The University of Karachi (UoK) recently proposed a new admission policy with highlighted feature of abolishment of its K category. K which happens to be acronym for Karachi was a special privilege provided to the students of Karachi enabling them to compete in a relax environment and achieve excellence.
Located on university road, the main campus of UoK happens to facilitate around 24,000 in-house students. Being the premiere institution of the metropolis, UoK welcomes students from all over Pakistan. The campus has representation of every ethnic and religious youth group highlighting its openness.
However the alma mater to millions of individuals has recently found itself entangled in all sorts of controversies. It has become a place where call offs and protests happen to be a regular happening. In some recent incidents, academic staff has also been found involved. The latest took place in June and spanned for almost a week, with complete suspension of academic activities. The origin of this teaching staff agitation is the controversial Sindh University Act 2013; the act which passes control of provincial educational institutions from governor to chief ministers. It also paves the way for excessive involvement of provincial government in university affairs, an act only done in Pakistan.
The Vice Chancellor remains adamant that recent policy is a sole in-house initiative (itself a violation of Act’s article 6-A). One can easily attribute this development to the growing political influence. Why is it so that UoK is becoming hostile to its own backyard students? Blame the author for being racially motivated but counter arguments lose substance and only bow down to the fact that the bill remains a conspiracy.
The province of Sindh as per official provincial government website has a population of slightly more than 30 million. Karachi the capital is estimated to host around 20 million, the two third share of the whole population. There happen to be a total of 13 provincial universities; of which 4 are in Karachi. Basing the argument on population mapping, Karachi which deals with a load of 150,000 intermediate students yearly is only one of the 5 boards in Sindh. Hyderabad, Larkana, Sukkur and Mirpur Khas happen to be the other similar bodies. So how is it to be believed that a Karachi student who is already deprived from one of its basic rights of equal opportunity (as per ratio 8 universities should be housed in metropolis) is the one blamed of deriving extra benefit and enjoying cover of quota system. Shouldn’t a Karachite being aggrieved party be supported by its local institutions with an additional strong quota in other provincial universities? The norm across globe, where local students are encouraged by their local universities, is something a Karachite already lacks and is now being completely denied off.
Karachi which not only caters to its domestic supply but has also to accommodate both intra and inter-provincial load should now be eased off given its own growing demands. The burden only compels a Karachite to turn towards private universities which are costly and at times blamed for their environment.
The conspiring nature of the injurious Act also frustrates students of the city. As per Sindh University Act 2013, only 3 provincial institutions have been deprived of their power of devising their own admission policy; University of Karachi, Dow University of Health Sciences and NED University of Engineering & Technology. Their admission module would now be dictated by the government where remaining provincial institutions are free to do so as according to their wish.
Universities across globe function independently and are no where seen to be dictated or intervened by politics. This strengthens the academics, and leads to a productive environment which is free of politics and discrimination. Karachi University has its own supreme body; the syndicate which can do the required job but unfortunately finds itself paralyzed after promulgation of the Act. Universities are supposed to be a place where individuals should dwell in scholarly works; inventions should be the order of the day whose benefits a society should reap. We however find ours doing none to the normal course. State is not supposed to control every affair. Argument that individuals should learn politics in these noble places also happens to be unique as is carried nowhere around. Have universities such as Cambridge, MIT and Harvard grown in this fashion.
Universities happen to be a student’s last stop or gateway to practical life and lessons learnt are lifetime experiences and may completely change one’s course of life and/or ideology. A UoK graduate who already suffers from a hostile environment, living in a facility which looks little better than a prison with barbed wires and barricades at entrances and paramilitary forces roaming, demands a bit better. If we are to make him believe that he cannot enjoy a quota but will have him placed in some collective category only brings him a sense of satisfaction. A sane mind and enlightened thinking should completely reject quote system and support meritocracy. For Karachi students this remains partially true. Deprived of their quota now in their home they are supposed to follow the quota system elsewhere in practical and social life. Shouldn’t the case be of collective supremacy of meritocracy be it whatever aspect of growth?
What we might breed would be individuals who are already least competitive and shall carry stigma of being rejected and deprived. Students of Karachi University are always looking for that savior which can support them or favor them rather standing up to prove themselves on personal skills. If this remains the case UoK would soon become an institution of convenience, and fact of the matter is convenience is not a substitute of intellect.
For the plight of Karachi students support them or let them compete. For the sake of this noble institution called University of Karachi, free it from political pressures, let it breathe, or kill it in one strike rather this painful slow death.