In some parts of the world technology has progressed to such a stage that people can talk about colonising other planets without it sounding out of place; in Pakistan, however, a recently launched intermediate level computer science programme in Sindh shows that the nation is lightyears behind.
Through a notification issued in September, a computer science programme was introduced in about 21 colleges of Karachi by the College Education Department.
However, the department neither allocated funds to establish computer labs at these colleges nor did it hire subject specific teachers to teach, which has resulted in the programme becoming ineffective right from the start. Professor Rauf, Principal of Government Degree Boys College, commenting on the matter informed, “the Central Admission Committee sent some computer science admissions to our college. However, we did not have any teachers nor was there any computer lab. We also did not have an affiliation with the Intermediate Board.” Therefore, the college ended up returning the admission entries to the committee.
The Express Tribune learnt that when the notification first came out for establishing computer science faculties, principals of the colleges conveyed their concerns regarding lack of resources to the College Education Department but to no avail. In this regard, Professor Khalil-ur-Rahman of Government City College Musa Colony, Federal B Area, said that his college had no infrastructure whatsoever to teach computer science.
“During the admissions process, we told the students and their parents that we did not have labs or teachers due to which some withdrew their admission but some chose to stay,” Rahman informed, adding that those who had chosen to stay had regular classes and labs for their other subjects but not for computer science. When asked if there was any temporary fix for the situation, Rahman replied: “some computer science teachers have contacted the college and expressed their desire to teach here. So perhaps the department could transfer them here to solve our problem.” However, even the transfers will not be able to address the funding issue for computer labs, as per Rahman.
“We have not been given any funding for the labs so far. Yet, we are still bound to follow the instructions of the department and teach computer science in the hope that help will come soon,” the professor lamented. Another college principal, talking to the Express Tribune about the situation in his college on the condition of anonymity, said, “we have not been given subject specific teachers by the department.”
Resultantly, the college has now hired part-time teachers on low wages from their own funds just to help out their students, as per the principal. “However, we do not have any solutions for something as costly as a computer lab.” Rashid Khoso, who is in-charge of the Central Admission Committee responsible for computer science placements in colleges, when asked about the troubles students and colleges were being put through, maintained that there was no problem at all. “The computer labs are needed before the end of the current academic session and the department will have set them up by then. As for teaching, several teachers have been promoted to colleges and others are being hired currently,” said Khoso while talking to The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 25th, 2022.
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