You ViewsVOLUME 18 ISSUE # 27

BS programme in Sindh colleges

About a couple of years ago, The Sindh High Court (SHC) had ordered the resumption of four-year Bachelor of Science (BS) programmes in all colleges of the province to provide equal opportunities to students. Disappointingly, no progress has been made in this regard so far.

The committee of professors was formed in January this year to analyse the matter and send a report to the policymakers in the College Education Department, but it has not finalised any report even after four months. It is important to commence the said programme in colleges because of several reasons. No new public-sector university has been established in the last 5-10 years. In contrast, several private-sector universities and institutes have been set up in Karachi during this time. They are not affordable for middle and lower-middle classes due to high semester fees. These families rely solely on public-sector universities to get higher education due to their limited resources.

It is no secret that the University of Karachi has been bearing all the burden for a long time. It also offers an evening programme to accommodate the maximum number of students in the four-year BS programme in various faculties. However, despite all these efforts, many students are still left out. They are turned down or rejected and have no other affordable option to fulfil their dreams. They are either compelled to rip their pockets off and enrol themselves in private universities or compromise on their education.

The proposed four-year BS prog-ramme in colleges of Sindh will provide another opportunity to the remaining students, and will ease the burden on government universities that are already struggling with their share of problems. The programme will enable the government to fulfil its obligation of providing quality education at an affordable cost to all segments of society.

The SHC order was in the right spirit because it would save the cost and eliminate the need for building new structures to accommodate more students. There are almost 360 colleges in Sindh, and most of them have infrastructure good enough for the purpose. The government has to provide necessary facilities in these buildings to commence BS programmes in various faculties, such as Arts, Sciences, Social Sciences, Commerce and Humanities.

The two-year Associate Degree programme, previously known as the BSc stream, is already being offered by many colleges in Sindh. This means that science laboratories are available in these colleges. The government only needs to upgrade them to meet the requirement of the new programme. Similarly, it should establish digital libraries in all colleges of the province. Thousands of students pass each year from seven intermediate boards of Sindh, and only a few thousand get admission to public-sector universities due to limited seats. Therefore, it is high time the four-year BS programme was launched in colleges to make higher education accessible to more and more students.

The BS programme in colleges would also help utilise the potential and services of PhD teaching faculty. A large number of PhD teachers are already serving in the College Education Department. Therefore, by offering the BS programme, many students would be benefited by these PhD/MPhil teachers. Besides, the PhD teachers would be able to get research grants from national and international donors which may create a research culture in colleges because there is a compulsory research project for BS students in the fourth year of their academic programme. One can imagine how productive it would be for society at large.

The Sindh chapter of Pakistan Research Scholars Association (PRSA-Sindh), the largest association of PhD/M.Phil teachers associated with the provincial College Education Department, has always favoured the commencement of BS programmes in colleges. It is hoped that the provincial policymakers would pay heed to the SHC order and take due action immediately.

Dr Zafar Farooqui