The female university teachers may be considered on merit for various administrative and other positions
By Muneer Ahmed Mirjat
Higher Education plays a significant role in developing the society in any country. Universities and Degree Awarding Institutions in Pakistan produce graduates for fulfilling the market’s demand for jobs and inventions. Every government focuses on improving the infrastructure, laboratories, library, and technology and provides capacity-building opportunities for youth and other stakeholders involved in the teaching and learning process. The statistics on Higher Education Commission’s website reflect that Male enrollment in Higher Education Institutions is around 55%, whereas Female enrollment is approximately 45%. Interestingly, these figures were of 2013-14, and there was no change even after seven years – i.e. 2020-21.
If we consider female teachers’ case, it is observed that, from subject selection to exam duties, they are discriminated against most of the time
Our urban population has more learning opportunities than the rural. Students from rural villages and towns cannot afford access to the Higher Education Institutions due to ever-increasing transport charges, living costs in city, and continuously increasing education expenses. Even those female folks who can afford it will face difficulties in daily commuting due to people’s staring, comments, and discouraging behavior of commuters and by-passer. Mostly, female students face such man behavior en route to the University and in Universities. Right from the Admission process when multiple people become instructors and invigilators who check credentials with a deep observation and feel that students are thieves who may have uranium with them. The test hall becomes a Fish Market where one cannot find peace to focus on the question paper. The man thing continues with female students when they cannot find their names on the list and must visit Babu’s office to check the reason. If anyone is lucky enough to make her place on the list, then the admission fee challan is to be collected from finance where some men will observe and question them about the female students’ origin, cast, and creed. Mobile numbers will be voluntarily shared, and some will become ‘Bhai’ (Brother) for all future interactions. Next comes the bank, where one will be compelled to develop contacts for timely submission of the challans, and as per the economics rule, everything has some price. The female with good looks is facilitated, whereas those with typical features will feel either they were not supposed to be here for study or they are misfits although they came joined the University to be Miss Fit.
The man thing doesn’t stop here; in the classroom, some male peers and few teachers will not leave any stone unturned to develop a depressive learning environment for the female folks. Many such cases surfaced in newspapers where some University Teachers reportedly tried to cheat, and the story becomes more miserable when any complaint is lodged against any such individual. A committee comprising senior professionals with only one or two senior professionals will try its best to prove that character of a female has some issue, not the individual against whom a complaint is lodged. Such a one-sided power show is exercised against students and some faculty members. If anyone dared to complain about such behavior, they would feel the heat when developing an environment where everyone is given equal respect. The story continues for students to the next stage of Assessment and Evaluation, where some students may have to pay the price for marks differently. Many female students silently bear such behaviors as they were allowed conditionally so that they would not create problems for their parents and tribe. Surprisingly, female folks from different class in society are dealt in different ways. The influential students will get the best possible guidance, and they are the only ones who will remember University days after graduating. Rest will tell the true side of those teachers who exercised double standards during their teaching and learning.
If we consider female teachers’ case, it is observed that, from subject selection to exam duties, they are discriminated against most of the time. As they will need some relaxation in their career due to the support family system, they would not resist any decision about teaching and learning activities. This behavior will strengthen the dominance of male teachers in administration, and female teachers will be considered lenient and lacking leadership skills. Female teachers rarely get a seat as Head of Department, Dean, or elevated to Vice Chancellor in public Universities where majority belongs to males. Even if we talk about female Universities, it is observed that positions in finances, security, examination etc. are given to males, as these are considered tough and difficult jobs that females cannot perform. In some cases, female Vice-Chancellors prefer males in all administrative positions because their tasks need some seriousness, stubborn looks, and leadership qualities.
Let us become more responsible in our behaviors towards our female students, staff, and teachers
There is a need to change such stereotyped behavior among female students, staff, and teachers. They may be considered on merit for various administrative and other positions. The process at Universities can be digitized to make life easier for female folks especially. Respect and confidence be given to female colleagues in the classroom, office, and other places. Our religion asks all Muslims of both genders to keep on learning right from the cradle to the grave. In another Hadith, it is made mandatory for all males and females to acquire knowledge. Let us become more responsible in our behaviors towards our female students, staff, and teachers. It will create a peaceful environment where better teaching, learning, research, and other creative activities can be performed.
Muneer Ahmed Mirjat is Director, Higher Education Commission Islamabad