Government colleges in Pakistan are seeing a drastic drop in enrollment this year. An estimated 30,000 spaces went unfilled in these institutions in Karachi alone as applicants rushed to be accepted and enrolled at private colleges. There are several explanations for students’ marked preference for private institutions, but all of them come back to the deterioration of public-sector higher education. The quality of instruction and value of degrees received from government colleges are becoming far inferior to the quality of a private education. This is true in students’ perceptions and, increasingly, in reality as well.
On August 13, just before the enrollment fiasco in Karachi, chairman Javaid Laghari of the Higher Education Commission revealed that not even “a single penny” of the $183 million allocated to the Commission by the government for 2010-2011had been received. Understandably, the money may be reallocated to address overwhelming needs arising from the nation’s flooding tragedy, but the natural disaster and its ramifications have left Pakistan’s public higher education in dire straits. Another disappointment arises from the lack of financial support being provided by other countries who have pledged to assist with the higher education crisis. For example, Hillary Rodham Clinton pledged $45 million last October, but none of this money has actually been given to Pakistan. If Pakistan is going to be able to improve its government colleges, it will need significantly increased funding.
The Higher Education Commission has recently been obliged to spend its time and energy verifying the university degrees held by 736 parliament members and over 25,000 professors working in Pakistan’s educational system. This responsibility was delegated to the Commission after complaints and accusations that some parliament members held fake degrees were heard. So far, 37 of the 736 degrees held by parliament members have been declared fraudulent, with 136 deemed genuine and the rest awaiting confirmation. Without distractions like this one, the Higher Education Commission could be working to resolve the issues that are plaguing government colleges across the nation.
Failure to Recognize Growth in Developing Sectors
Current Pakistani students are looking for higher education opportunities in the sciences, but government colleges don’t have sufficient faculty in this area of study to attract students’ attention. Because of the high cost of building laboratories, among other factors, the government has neglected to address the deficiency of scientific instruction available in public sector institutions. The imbalance of supply and demand in Pakistan’s public higher education needs serious attention in order to approach a solution to the problem.
Bio: Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer, model and the resident blogger for OnlineNursingDegrees.org, a free informational website offering tips and advice on online nursing schools.