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Waziristan education city.

Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, while chairing a high level meeting, has principally agreed to the proposal of establishing an Education City at the tribal district of North Waziristan. He has directed to include this project in the 10 years development plan for the uplift of tribal districts. The higher facility of imparting higher education shall be established at an area of 1000 Kanal at Pir Kaley Tapi. It will consist of a campus of Agriculture University, Medical College, Teaching Level Hospital, Sports Complex and Hostels. Initially, a sum of Rs. 1.5 billion shall be allocated for this project. Private sector shall also be invited to invest human resource development.

The total outlay of tribal districts 10 years uplift plan has been estimated to be Rs.100 billion. If the proposal of Waziristan Education City does materialise then it will be another milestone in the mainstreaming of these less developed districts. Majority of these districts lag far behind in social sector development. At present there is only one university which has been established in FR Peshawar for the merged districts. The situation there in Elementary and higher education is also not satisfactory. The enrolment ratio is dismally low except two tribal districts and gender gap is alarmingly wide. That is why the provincial government has to relax the criteria of Primary School teachers' appointment. The issues of ghost schools and lack of punctuality of teachers are yet to be effectively tackled.

The planning for opening of public sector universities in the tribal districts is worth appreciation. But merely establishing the institution of higher education will not realise the goal of knowledge promotion unless and until a viable source of government funding is in place for the salaries of teaching and other staff, expenditure on academic and research activities. The current financial crisis of a number of government universities in the settled districts severs a lesson for the decision makers. The old universities have meager financial resources to release salaries to teaching staff and other employees in addition to the disbursement of pension to the retirees, although three times increase in tuition fee has been made. The student of tribal districts will not be able to pay the exorbitant tuition fee. The teachers of universities have called off their strike but they have given a deadline October 4 for the acceptance of their demands. The provision of funds to public sector universities is the constitutional responsibility of the provincial government.

The standard of education had degenerated in the universities of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa. It is a matter of great concern for the educationist, students and their parents that the ranking of public sector universities has declined over the past eight years. Not a single government university has been able to break into the top 10 institutions which are included in the Higher Education Commission (HEC) list. The issue of dismal ranking had once echoed in the Provincial Assembly in March, 2018. But higher education department did not initiate necessary corrective measures. The policy of encompassing appointments on merit, overdue curriculum reforms and improvement of research infrastructure needs to implemented for enhancing the quality of higher education.

Currently, in the 24 public sector universities, the academic and research facilities are far from satisfactory. Senior faculty members do not show even the least interest in academic and research activities of students of BS Honour and M. Phil study programmes. The poorly equipped science labs and dearth of chemicals are other major factors impacting the quality of education. There is acute shortage of equipments and the existing ones are obsolete which are not beneficial in the purist of modern research. It is the high-tech instrumentation of science labs and skill development of students to easily and efficiently operate state-of-the art instruments that enhances the quality of education. Moreover, the students of higher education institutions have no access to top notch international research journals. Apart from funding requirements the glaring inefficiencies have to be overcome both in the existing universities and the ones that are to be established in the tribal districts.

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Publication:Frontier Post (Peshawar, Pakistan)
Date:Sep 25, 2019
Words:714
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