The progress of any nation relies heavily on nurturing and cultivating the inherent intellectual prowess of the youth through higher education. However, for millions of students in Sindh living through the grim circumstances befalling the college network, the aspirations of bringing change in the country face a dead end.
Despite the Sindh government allocating an annual budget worth billions of rupees for the maintenance and upgradation of the public higher education system, the on-ground state of affairs at several colleges in the province presents a detestable picture. This is due largely to the unavailability of teaching staff, dilapidated infrastructure, shabby sanitation, paucity of scientific equipment in laboratories, and non-purchase of compulsory books in libraries.
“The condition of government colleges is deplorable. Basic furniture, infrastructure, and amenities are missing, and most books are unavailable in the library. No wonder why students no longer wish to study in these colleges,” deplored a teacher at the Islamia College for Arts and Commerce, which has been listed in the Zone A category of educational institutions for its substandard facilities.
According to details gathered by the Express Tribune, 88 out of 153 government colleges in the province, including the Superior Commerce College, Jamia Millia Government Degree College, Islamia Arts and Commerce College, Government City College, Siraj-ud-Daula College, Ship Owner College, Premier Government College, Riaz Government College, Government Girls College Al Noor, and Daughter East Government Girls College, have been assigned the categorization of Zone A for having the worst teaching and campus facilities.
“Colleges that have been put in the Zone A category upon thorough inspection have a severe shortage of academic facilities like scientific laboratories, do not have adequate teaching and administrative staff available, have poor hygiene, and also have very low student attendance,” revealed Suleman Sial, Director General Colleges Karachi.
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Interestingly enough, the Sindh government’s plans of introducing a four-year bachelor’s degree in government colleges too were sabotaged by the maladroit supervision and maintenance of the public higher education system.
“Apart from two colleges that were in a slightly better condition, the majority of government colleges, including Ship Owner College, Abdullah Girls College, DJ Science College, and Saeedabad College, were unsuitable for facilitating higher education. “The library only had three books of Urdu, which too were brought by one of the teachers. Apart from that, the entire facility was relegated to dust,” said Dr. Anila Amber, University of Karachi’s Secretary Affiliation, who further informed that she had sent letters to the Directorate of College Education Department explaining the gravity of the situation.
It is worthy of mentioning here that following the emergency basis inspection of colleges, the College Education Department had classified government colleges into three different categories of Zones A, B, and C, with the A category classifying third-grade colleges.
Speaking to the Express Tribune on the matter, Suleman Sial, Director General Colleges Karachi, said, “According to the document released regarding three different classifications of colleges in connection with the meeting held at the Chief Minister’s House, inspection of each of the 88 government colleges of Karachi with Zone A category has been made mandatory twice a month, while inspection of Zone B colleges is mandatory once a month and Zone C colleges once every three months.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th2023.