PESHAWAR: Thousands of people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will not be able to sit examination for the degree programme in social sciences subjects as private candidates from next year due to the replacement of the Bachelor of Arts programme with the Associate Degree’s.

The Higher Education Commission had formally informed the provincial government on July 11, 2019, about its decision to introduce the Associate Degree programme in place of the BA’s, sources in the higher education department told Dawn.

They said the HEC asked the government to stop its universities from enrolling private candidates for BA examination from the next academic year beginning in Sept.

Bar on private candidates to deprive thousands of access to degree course in social sciences

The sources said the HEC had also decided to bar private candidates from sitting the Master of Arts examination from 2020.

They said the BA programme would be replaced with the Associate Degree’s and the MA’s with the Bachelor of Studies’.

The BS is a four years degree programme already introduced in 30 public sector universities and 120 government colleges of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The sources said thousands of people, especially women, got gradation and post-graduation degrees in social science subjects every year after sitting exam as private candidates.

They said the people, who were unable to study in colleges and universities as regular students for one reason or the other, got further education by appearing in exam as private candidates.

A senior teacher of the University of Peshawar told Dawn that most of the male private candidates worked in private or government organisations, so they prepared for exam at home in spare time.

He said female private candidates were either not allowed by families to go to colleges or they got married before the completion of education.

The teacher said the universities, too, had reservations about the bar on private exam candidates as it would deprive them of a handsome amount generated through fee collection.

When contacted, adviser to the KP Quality Assurance Cell Shafiqur Rehman said the province’s universities were not ready to introduce the Associate Degree’s programme forthwith.

“We are in constant contact with the HEC to seek at least one year delay in the introduction of the Associate Degree programme as it needs a lot of efforts,” he said.

The adviser said the HED’s officials met the HEC’s high-ups few days ago to sort out the matter but the latter was unwilling to delay the programme’s enforcement.

He said the abolition of the BA degree was decided in 2017 but the universities didn’t take it seriously as the HEC didn’t issue instructions for it.

“Now all of a sudden, the HEC started implementing its decision for which the universities haven’t done any homework,” he said.

The adviser said the department had categorically told the HEC that it was not possible for KP’s universities to abolish the BA degree in the upcoming academic year.

When asked why private candidate can’t sit the Associate Degree examination, he said BA was an annual degree programme in which self-studies was possible, while the associate degree course was based on semester system, which could only be done by regularly attending classes.

The adviser said the Associate Degree programme was far better than BA’s as the latter had ‘outdated and low-quality’ contents.

He, however, said the universities needed time to prepare courses and scheme of studies for the new programme.

“We have to design new scheme of studies, which will be market-oriented,” he said.

Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2019