Tuesday October 03, 2023

Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University on road to self-reliance: VC

March 18, 2018

PESHAWAR: Vice-Chancellor Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University (SBBWU) Dr Razia Sultana on Saturday said that donations to educational institutions for research, innovation projects and infrastructure development could bring a positive change in society.

Talking to The News, she said that media could play a role in raising awareness regarding the social responsibility practices in the society.

“There is hardly any contribution or partnership from individuals or organisations in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa towards educational institutions. I didn’t see any philanthropy in education sector, including higher education,” she added.

She said that philanthropists have been constructing academic buildings and hostels in the public sector universities in Punjab. “It is a general practice the world over that people make donations to universities. The idea of donating to public sector institutions is unknown to our people,” she added.

The media should play a role in raising awareness among the masses for making contributions to public institutions.

She said the SBBWU management had started efforts for sustainability and self-reliance. “The university is managing eight projects and we are taking steps to get more projects that would help in establishing labs and fulfilling other requirements of university,” she said.

“We are planning to establish diagnostic labs. We also intend to expand the reach of legal cell. The clinical psychology centre could also generate revenue. We are taking steps to take projects from UNDP and other UN agencies,” she added.

She claimed that she can change the entire outlook of the university in terms of research, academic and infrastructure with a fund of Rs2 billion.

Dr Razia Sultana said the perception about women’s role as housewives was changing. The society is realising that women should be allowed to get higher education and careers, she said.

She noted that two decades ago the concept of working women was alien to the society and women had to face tremendous socio-cultural pressures due to which parents were unwilling to allow their daughters to join professional careers.

“It is an opportune time in terms of professional and academic opportunities and options. Scores of avenues are open for female students not only in Pakistan but abroad too,” she added.

Now institutions arrange job expos for students, help them in interviews and curriculum vitae preparation and arrange internships for students, she pointed out.

She said there was no concept of female sports in co-ed universities, but now at the women specific university they are given plenty of opportunities to engage in sports activities. She said the university also provided opportunities to students of affiliated colleges to excel in sports.

“More than 4,000 students are enrolled at the 22 departments of SBBWU, with 165 faculty members, including 40 PhDs. Nine departments have research programmes and in the next three to five years, 80 percent of the faculty would be PhDs,” she explained.

“We want to give back to the community. We completed an English micro-scholarship programme in collaboration with Comsats Institute of Information Technology in which 200 girl students were provided English and Computer Science training,” she added.

She said they also provided training to schoolteachers in the community to introduce them to new trends and ideas in teaching.

“The Legal Cell established at the Department of Law provides legal advice to the community without any fee. Though it is not working on a wider scale due to the lack of infrastructure, it is moving forward gradually,” she said.

After graduating from the University of Peshawar in 1988-90 from History Department, Dr Razia Sultana completed her PhD from Area Study Centre and post-doctorate from New York University as a Fulbright scholar.

She started her career as a lecturer at the Department of History in UoP and joined Quaid-e-Azam University in 2000 as assistant professor where she later became a professor. Later, she assumed the responsibility of vice-chancellor of SBBWU.

“It took me a year to understand the work and gender dynamics. However, I feel confident at the last leg of my career that I have been able to build a team and have streamlined the affairs over here. It was all because of the teamwork what we have achieved during these four years,” she said.

She said that the SBBWU campus presented a deserted look till 2015. “The area was facing electricity outages. We obtained a separate feeder for the university and gas supply before 2016. We had two mini campuses in University Town that cost Rs20 million per year. I shifted these departments to the main campus and reduced the expenses,” she added.

She said SBBWU arranged 150 seminars, 33 workshops, five international and three national conferences in the last one year as it was the responsibility of university to discuss new ideas and arrange debate on issues facing the country.

She said the university was planning to establish a community college to provide education and skills to women of the community of any age.

She said the government had allocated Rs193 million for construction of an academic block, auditorium, medical centre and a building for the women development centre. The government had also approved construction of two hostels for the university that would accommodate 400 students, she said.