THIS is with reference to the editorial ‘Students in Kyrgyzstan’ and news report ‘Pakistani students flee Kyrgyzstan after mob attacks’ (May 19). In the last few days, hundreds of Pakistani students have been repatriated from the central Asian Muslim country where they were beaten up and severely injured by angry mobs, as can be seen in the accompanying image. What actually happened and what was the extent of the incident are elements of a different debate. At the core of the matter is one simple question: why such a large number of Pakistani students have to go abroad to study medicine?

The truth is that many, if not most, private medical colleges in Pakistan routinely demand ‘donations’ merely for admission that are worth about three years of tuition fee in any Kyrgyz medical college. Besides, ever since the gender-based quota was abolished, boys have generally struggled to get admission into medical colleges. People wonder how more than 90 per cent aggregate marks are so routinely obtained by so many so easily in intermediate examinations that are not entirely based on multiple-choice questions (MCQs).

From paper leaks ahead of intermediate examinations and the Medical and Dental Colleges Admission Test (MDCAT), and from fee structures to availability of seats in medical education institutions, we need to have proper monitoring of all issues related to medical education in the country.

As such, paying for Pakistani students in foreign lands every month is a huge financial burden on the country’s foreign exchange reserves. When our students will not have education opportunities in their homeland, they will naturally opt for education abroad from where they may not even return to serve the country. We must take due steps to reverse foreign exchange outflow and brain drain.

M. Shaikh
Islamabad

Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2024

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