The deteriorating standard of education in Sindh’s universities is an issue of grave concern
Prof Dr. Abdullah G Arijo
The academic performance of Pakistani students in universities has been a concerning issue for quite some time. Despite having a wealth of potential, many students seem to be underperforming. Results show a significant proportion of students failing to meet the minimal academic standard. Several incriminating factors like outdated educational infrastructure, inadequate exposure to research and applied knowledge, poor teacher training, and low levels of motivation contribute to this plight. Additionally, rote learning, students’ lesser interest in their chosen fields, and a lack of language proficiency also play a significant role. Such a distressing situation calls for immediate action to stir a revolution in the educational practices and the broader outlook towards university education in the country.
The universities are producing robots adept at spitting out rehearsed information
It makes me feel shame when I look at the standard of education in the universities of Sindh desperately declining. This unfortunate turn is heavily influenced by the burgeoning practice of pseudo-research, a grave concern that questions the legitimacy and quality of academia. Instead of promoting genuine scholastic exploration and critical thinking, educational institutions are becoming hotbeds for counterfeit intellectual inquiries. This dubious pursuit is resulting in a generation of graduates who are under-equipped and poorly skilled for real-world challenges. The universities are producing robots adept at spitting out rehearsed information, rather than independent thinkers who can innovate for the betterment of society. To revive the falling standards, these institutions must curtail pseudo-research and foster a culture of true scholarly inquisition.
Attendance in universities is an alarming issue and requires immediate attention
Students in the universities of Sindh in particular, have the lowest attendance against the so-called 75% government condition. Efforts are all-time in the field to engineer the student presence though they seldom attend the classes.
Attendance in universities is an alarming issue and requires immediate attention. To improve this, several measures must be implemented. Firstly, institutions should engage more interactively with students, using practical modes of learning to stimulate interest. Additionally, institutions must introduce flexible study plans catering to the needs of students.
Online learning platforms and employing technology, a more accessible learning environment could be created for students unable to attend physically. Further, universities should focus on student well-being, providing appropriate mental health support, and counselling and fostering a diverse and inclusive campus community. More so, financial barriers must also be addressed. Scholarships (that are very few), financial aid, or subsidized tuition could help students who cannot afford the heavy cost. Combating low university attendance depends on these multifaceted improvements, enhancing the overall student experience.
One more factor behind the low presence is due to a severe shortage of funds, the university laboratories are facing a dire situation where teaching practical sessions has become almost impossible. The labs are drastically undersupplied, lacking crucial practical materials necessary for enriching the student’s learning experiences. Moreover, the situation has also disheartened the teachers who are finding it challenging to conduct without the required resources. Consequently, they are showing a declining willingness to teach practical classes. This is a critical scenario that is impeding the overall educational process and precluding students from acquiring hands-on experience.
Providing scholarships or financial assistance programs can make education affordable and increase attendance
Low attendance in Pakistan’s universities is a pressing issue that needs remediation for a better learning environment. One female student told me why she could not make her present for a full four-month semester. A male student from Mithi Tharparkar wept and told me that he could not afford three times meals because his parental earnings were hardly sufficient to let the family live.
The solution rests in addressing core challenges such as financial constraints and lack of motivation. Providing scholarships or financial assistance programs can make education affordable and increase attendance. Moreover, offering flexible course timings and more online lectures can accommodate students with varying schedules.
Universities should also create appealing course content and enhance teaching methodologies to keep students engaged. Participation in practical projects should be encouraged to foster students’ interest and improve skills concurrently. In addition, improving campus facilities, transportation, and security can make the university environment more appealing and conducive to learning. Regular counselling sessions can also help students to tackle academic pressures and keep them motivated. Therefore, a multifaceted approach focusing on financial, academic, and logistical aspects can improve overall attendance in Pakistani universities.
The urgent need is for a significant boost in research funding to foster genuinely educated minds for Pakistan’s future
Currently, our universities are producing an army of illiterate graduates. The deteriorating standard of education in Sindh’s universities is an issue of grave concern. One significant cause is the spread of ‘pseudo-research.’ The focus is more on quantity rather than quality of research carried out, stimulating an overproduction of poorly executed studies. These pseudo-researches, often showcasing manipulated data and unverified findings, plague our educational institutions, paving the way for intellectual malpractice. Worryingly, they tarnish the reputation of our academic circles, undermining genuine research efforts, and diluting the overall quality of education. As a result, the universities in Sindh are struggling to match global academic standards. This decline calls for decisive action, including stringent checks on research quality and academic integrity, to halt this downward educational spiral.
Pakistani universities are currently in a detrimental phase, due to a shortage of budget allocation, particularly a lack of funds for research. As a result, these institutions are churning out a considerable number of individuals who, despite their academic accomplishments, are still fundamentally illiterate in practical areas. The zero allocation for research activities is crippling the academic platforms and may severely jeopardize the intellectual growth of the nation. This underfunding is curtailing the actual purpose of education, i.e., to explore, innovate and contribute to progress. Unfortunately, the universities are now mainly producing individuals who are mere certificate holders, but devoid of the crux of applicable knowledge and skills. The urgent need is for a significant boost in research funding to foster genuinely educated minds for Pakistan’s future.
Prof. (R) Dr. Abdullah G. Arijo is Advisor and Visiting Professor, SBBUVAS, Sakrand, Pakistan. He is Ex-Chairman, Department of Parasitology, Sindh Agriculture University and Ex-Advisor Academics & P&D to Vice Chancellor SAU Tandojam