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January 9, 2017

Who is accountable for students’ lost years?


January 9, 2017

Having waited 10 months for KU to announce their second year results, many students have been pushed back two years for flunking even one or two papers

“Is it too much to ask for supplementary examinations instead of pushing us two years back in our five-year degree programme?” asked Bilal Mangi, a student of the Sindh Muslim (SM) Government Law College while protesting along with his batch mates outside the Chief Minister’s House on Thursday.

Founded in June 1947, the SM Government Law College, which once had Pakistan People’s Party founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in its faculty, now appears to be in shambles. The protesting students, who were enrolled in a five-year BA LLB (Hons) programme in 2013, had to wait for 10 months for their results after appearing in the second-year examinations at the University of Karachi in December 2015. “This is our fourth year in the degree programme,” said Mangi, who is from Dadu district. “Students who failed even in a single paper are being pushed back two years.  It will cause irreparable damage to our careers.”

As the college is affiliated with the KU, the examinations are conducted there and the results are prepared by the university’s administration.

To appear in the third year examinations of the BA LLB – the first year of the LLB- the candidate is supposed to clear all the papers of the first and second year (BA Law), according to the rule book.

“We have been approaching everyone but nobody seems to be taking notice of our dilemma,” said Sarmad Sehto, a student of the college and an active member of the People’s Students Federation.

“Neither does our college take responsibility for the tedious delay in announcing the second year results, nor has the KU administration admitted its fault. We also met provincial law adviser Murtaza Wahab, but it didn’t yield any fruitful outcome.”

Who is to blame?

Talking to The News, SM Law College’s principal Professor Muhammad Humayun regretted that the students of his college were suffering. He said the procedural delay by the KU in announcing their second year results had put their future at risk. “Most of the students are failing in one or two papers – that too by a few marks. I’ve requested the KU administration to address the matter on a priority basis,” he added.

But the KU controller of examinations, Arshad Azmi, has a different story to tell.

“We normally take 20 days to prepare the results and in any case, a maximum of one month,” he maintained. “The fault is at their end. We sent them reminders to make it early but their teachers took a very long time to assess the papers.”

Professor Humayun, however, said: “To set the record straight, I reject the KU’s claim. The college isn’t responsible for the delay. I can present all records to prove them wrong.”

But the protesting students are more interested in finding out a way to save their years instead of the blame game of the two institutions.

 “I don’t know who is responsible for the criminal negligence of delaying our results,” said a female student, who did not wish to be named.

“All that I know is that my educational career will come to a halt if I’m not given a chance to sit in the supplementary examinations or awarded grace marks to appear in the third-year examination.”

Confusing programme?

The BA LLB (Hons) programme was started in 2011 by the SM Law College’s former principal Khurshid A Hashmi, who was at the helm of the college’s affairs for around 16 years.

Now the officials at the college call it a “confusing programme”.

“It’s not a reasonable condition for students to clear all their second-year papers for appearing in the third-year examinations,” said a college official.

As many as 82 undergraduates appeared in the second-year examinations in December 2015. After completing their third year, they came to know in October 2016 that 38 of them had failed in the second year results – ending their opportunity to appear in the next examinations.

For Justice (retd) Dr Ghous Muhammad, the dean of the KU Faculty of Law, the protesting students had fallen prey to the flaws in policies and delays in the announcement of results.

“I’m trying my best to help out the affected students but arranging supplementary examinations for them is beyond my jurisdiction,” he said. “It’s only been a year since I was appointed as the dean. The programme was approved before I took the office. It is indeed a confusing programme.”

‘Kisay wakeel karen?’

Many of the students come from families of lawyers, who themselves are looking for a counsel to file a petition against what they term sheer injustice.

“My son should have been told to repeat the second year before he completed the third year and started attending classes in his fourth year,” said Pervaiz Tanoli, an advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

A senior advocate of the Sindh High Court, Syed Khizer Askar, has moved his son to a private law university amid this confusion.

“I don’t know what’s going on over there,” lamented Askar, whose son was among those who cleared all his second year exams. “Despite having passed all papers, my son has transferred his degree programme to a private university. That seemed the right choice given that here (at SM Law College) the third year examinations haven’t been conducted yet and students have been attending fourth year classes since August 2016.” Pakistan Bar Council vice-chairman Barrister Farogh Naseem told The News that he was ready to help out the students if the council received a letter from them. “They are our future. We cannot let them down,” he added.

Protest rally

Most the students at the college belong to the rural parts of Sindh. They protested for three days outside the Chief Minister’s House.

“We will stage a rally from the Karachi Press Club to the Chief Minister’s House on Monday (today) as well,” said Mangi. “We want the chief minister to take action,” he demanded. “We see him as a messiah. We hope that he’ll not disappoint us.”

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