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July 11, 2020

Paper-marking issue: Governor directives to public sector universities spark strong criticism

Peshawar

July 11, 2020

PESHAWAR: The strange directives of Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Shah Farman Khan to all the public sector universities have drawn strong criticism from academic circles and experts of higher education.

In a notification issued here on Thursday, Governor Shah Farman, who is also the chancellor of public sector universities said that answer sheets of the university students shall not be marked by their class teachers. They should rather be sent to other universities for evaluation and marking. The notification further stated: “It should be ensured that credible, honest and reputed officers are posted as head of secrecy department in each university.”

The directives, according to the notification, were made during the course of a presentation given to the governor by secretary higher education department. “I think these directives are not only a blatant interference in the universities. But they are also impracticable,” said a senior professor of the University of Peshawar, while talking to The News. He explained that the universities run two types of system – annual and semester. In the annual system, the universities already get their papers prepared by other universities and paper-checking and evaluation is also made by teachers of other universities and the system is in vogue since long, he said. But the semester system is altogether a different pattern of education, which involves mid-term, final term exams, assignments, class attendance etc, he said and added that the schedule during semester system remains very tough. Therefore, it is not possible to get papers for semester system prepared by other universities and answer sheets are checked, marked and evaluated by other institutions, he remarked.

“If such a practice is introduced, it would result in a waste of time of the university students as it takes three to four months to distribute papers and then recollect it after checking. The result preparation needs another at least one month. Also, how can a teacher of another university evaluate the students of some other institution,” a senior official in the examination department of the University of Peshawar told The News. President Peshawar University Teachers Association (PUTA) Dr Fazle Nasir said that the decision might be good in principle but relevant forums are there to take such decisions. “We have the board of studies, the board of faculty, academic council and then syndicate, which take such decision through a proper mechanism,” he remarked.

These forums cannot be overruled. For taking any such decision a proper proposal is initiated by the board of studies, which is then forwards to board of faculty and after approval from there, the matter is presented before academic council, which refers it to the syndicate. And the syndicate is the forum to accept or reject such proposals, the PUTA president informed. Some professors even ridiculed the decision. They said they did not know as to who was advising such silly things to the chancellor. “The chancellor without looking into the ground realities issue a decree rather a ‘Shahi Farman’ to the university without thinking whether it is implementable or not,” said a former vice-chancellor, while talking to this reporter. One senior academician recalled an old story when the current chancellor was a student of the University of Peshawar. Cheating was one of the major problems in the university, when Dr Abdul Mateen took over as vice-chancellor and he appointed Dr Haroon as controller examination, he said. “The administration at that time adopted very tough mechanism to curb cheating and it was the same person, who issued today’s directives, to form ‘Anjuman Tahaffuz-e-Naqal Maran’ in the university,” he said. The appointment of “honest officers as heads of secrecy department” also sparked criticism as every academician, who talked to this reporter, ridiculed the point. “Who would define honesty? Is the person issuing these directives honest enough for weighing the honesty of others? Who would determine as who fulfill article 62 and 63 of the constitutions,” were the frequently asked questions by all those who talked to The News.

However, the most appropriate were the remarks of Dr Fazle Nasir, who said that the universities were already functioning under an Act and every decision needs to be taken in accordance with the Act. Some professors said that the government was unable to appoint vice-chancellors of different universities.

Even the cases of appointment of pro-vice-chancellors were lying pending before the higher education department and the chancellors and they were busy taking meaningless decisions. It is a matter of concern that at least six universities are currently functioning without vice-chancellors, he added.