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July 31, 2020

Karachi’s 60 govt colleges are without principals, six others entirely inactive

Karachi

July 31, 2020

Despite tall claims by the Sindh government about improving the standard of education at public colleges, the official statistics of the college education department show that around 60 of 148 such institutions in Karachi have been running without principals, while six others are entirely non-functional.

The inactive colleges are the Government Girls Degree College, Cattle Colony, Bin Qasim Town; the Government Girls Degree College, Block-N, North Nazimabad; the Government Boys College, Sector 11-A, North Karachi; the Government Degree College, Kamal Khan Jokhio, Gadap Town; the Government Girls Degree College, Darsano Chhanno, Gadap Town; and the Government Boys Degree College, Sector 9-E, Baldia Town.

No student is enrolled at these institutions, while the buildings of these colleges are also vacant. Meanwhile, a large number of functional colleges have no principals. Following the bifurcation of the Sindh Education & Literacy Department into the school education department and the college education department, junior teachers lacking the required administrative and teaching experiences have been found holding the top administrative positions of grade-19 and grade-20 at some 60 colleges.

Senior teachers who have been protesting against this in order to get their legal rights are of the view that academic and administrative activities are being adversely affected at such institutions.

They say that a majority of these junior teachers are in grade-17, while the position of principal is a sanctioned post of grade-19 or grade-20 in some colleges.

Therefore, at a large number of colleges, grade-20 professors are working as subordinates of those in grade-17. This situation sometimes creates conflicts between the teachers of these institutions.

Interestingly, the Sindh government has promoted senior college teachers thrice this year. On January 21, 184 teachers including 44 female teachers were promoted to grade-19. Following the seniority list, on May 19, 58 teachers including 27 female teachers were promoted to grade-20.

On July 20, 81 teachers were promoted to grade-20. At present, 152 grade-20 college professors and 910 grade-19 associate professors are employed at various colleges. However, the college education department has made no arrangement to appoint experienced principals at the colleges being operated by junior or incharge teachers.

This situation has resulted in administrative crises in colleges during the present COVID-19 pandemic. Also, none of the public colleges has been able to conduct online classes for its students. All of them have been observing a complete closure like other educational institutions.

‘Ad hocism’

Sindh Professors & Lecturers Association (SPLA) Information Secretary Prof Aziz Memon said that each government college in the province has a sanctioned post of grade-19 for its principal, and the chief secretary has the authority to appoint competent principals on the basis of their administrative and teaching experiences.

But, he said, such rules have not been complied with for the past many years. Generally, he pointed out, the Directorate of College Education issues a notification appointing someone as caretaker of a college.

He lamented that the officials do not play by the book. They appoint any of the college teachers as principal, overlooking the required criteria, rules, experience and seniority, he explained.

Prof Memon said that an incharge principal is supposed to fill in for a principal and look after the day-to-day administrative affairs of the college. But, he added, due to the pressure of field officers, they cannot operate these institutions effectively.

The irony, he remarked, is that the acting principals do not even consider themselves responsible for their jobs. “The government needs to follow the due procedure in posting college principals. All the principals should be notified, and the post of principal should be tenure-based.”

SPLA President Prof Munawar Abbas said their association has repeatedly approached the relevant authorities to put an end to “ad hoc-ism” and appoint permanent principals in colleges, but all to no avail.

He claimed that due to junior teachers being put in charge of colleges, that too in the presence of hundreds of senior professors, frequent complaints have been emerging about mismanagement, corruption and misbehaviour. However, he lamented, these complaints have not been taken seriously by the authorities concerned.

Prof Abbas said the SPLA recently discussed the matter with College Education Secretary Baqir Abbas Naqvi, who, he said, has assured the association that permanent principals will be appointed in accordance with the rules.

‘No knowledge’

Despite repeated attempts made by The News to get in touch with Naqvi to find out the official stance on the matter, the college education secretary remained unreachable.

However, while talking to The News on the issue, Education Minister Saeed Ghani’s media coordinator Zubair Memon referred to the minister’s latest briefing in the Provincial Assembly of Sindh.

Ghani had told the PA that there are specialists in 17 subjects, and that the province is facing a shortage of 1,148 such teachers, while 791 specialists are currently imparting education.

Memon said that since this post requires a grade-17 official and such an appointment is to be made by the Sindh Public Service Commission, the minister has been informed about it in writing. The coordinator, however, denied having any knowledge in the matter of principals, making the assurance that he will contact the relevant officials for the actual data before discussing the issue with the minister.