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November 30, 2015

Only 34pc of those who passed matric admitted to Punjab public colleges

Lahore

 
November 30, 2015

Only 34 percent of the total students who had passed Secondary School Certificate (Matriculation) Examination in Punjab this year have secured admissions to 700 public sector colleges of the province for intermediate (1st year) level education.
While official data about admissions to private colleges was not available, the background discussions with the officials concerned suggest that around 40 percent of those who passed SSC were ‘attracted’ by private sector institutes.
This low percentage of enrolment in government institutes exposes capacity of public colleges to accommodate students and also the growing tendency among students vis-à-vis their choice to select private colleges for further education.
For admissions to intermediate (1st year classes), the public colleges follow a merit based criteria and each college independently decides as to how many students it can accommodate keeping in view its faculty strength and available infrastructure including classrooms. This clearly shows that even the public colleges did not have followed merit based criteria for admissions; these colleges don’t have the capacity to accommodate rest of the 66 percent students or even double of the existing enrolments, leaving majority of the youth to go for expensive private education or study privately at homes.
The data regarding enrolment in government colleges (division wise) across Punjab and the number of students who had passed the SSC exam from all the nine Boards of Intermediate & Secondary Education (BISEs) of the province was collected from the HED Punjab and office of Directorate of Public Instruction (DPI) Colleges Punjab using the Right to Information (RTI) law.
According to the data, a total of 698,359 students had passed SSC exams in July this year and out of these only 240,081 got admissions to public sector colleges which makes it to 34 percent of all the students who passed SSC exams in Punjab.
The data analysis shows that in

Lahore division 51,122 (38%) students got admissions to public colleges of the division whereas 135,336 students had passed SSC exam from BISE Lahore. The highest percentage (45%) vis-à-vis admissions was recorded in Dera Ghazi Khan division as 19,201 students out of total 43,069 students who passed SSC from BISE DG Khan got admissions to government colleges of this division for intermediate level education.
Multan division recorded lowest percentage (30%) of enrolment in colleges as against 67,881 students who passed matric exam from BISE Multan only 20,677 students got admissions to public colleges of the division.
Bahawalpur division (49,282 passed and 17,973 enrolled), Faisalabad division (93,868 passed and 30,928 enrolled), Gujranwala division (128,377 passed and 41,747 enrolled), Rawalpindi division (84,352 passed and 27,297 enrolled), Sahiwal division (41,564 passed and 13,480 enrolled) and Sargodha division (54,630 passed and 17,656 enrolled).
It is pertinent to mention here that in total there are 682,509 students currently enrolled in intermediate, bachelors, BS and masters programmes in 700 public colleges of Punjab. The sanctioned teaching posts at the colleges for all these academic programmes are 21,708 while over 6,000 posts are vacant as against the sanctioned posts over 14,000 posts are filled. In order to meet this shortage the Higher Education Department (HED) Punjab hires College Teaching Interns (CTIs) and pays a monthly stipend of Rs30,000 to each CTI.
There are over 1,400 private colleges across Punjab and though infrastructure wise most of these colleges are far poor than public colleges still they attract a major chunk of students primarily because of their huge numbers and also choice of the students and their parents. The 40 percent admissions (around 280,000 students) to private colleges in 1st year seem justified keeping in view mushroom growth of private colleges over the years and growing sense of dissatisfaction among the general over ‘governance’ and ‘management’ related issues at most of the public colleges which, indeed, directly affect the quality of education.
According to sources in the HED, one-fourth of public colleges are working without regular administrative heads (principals) across the province and are being looked after by junior faculty members. There are other issues too such as public colleges are sometimes overstaffed or understaffed. For example, Government Degree College, Shahkot, district Nankana Sahib has two teachers for journalism subject with around 20-30 students while in Government MAO College of the provincial metropolis there is shortage of teachers for journalism and this shortage is met by engaging local journalists as visiting faculty members. The private colleges; however, are oblivious to such problems and are well-managed especially in terms of rationalisation of teaching staff.
Punjab Professors & Lecturers Association (PPLA) President Dr Zahid Ahmad Sheikh said there was a dire need of opening new public colleges and providing teaching staff to existing. He regretted that only 14,000 to 15,000 teaching posts were filled against over 21,000 sanctioned posts. Also, unlike only a dozen of two public colleges offering second shift (afternoon classes), almost all private colleges operate from morning till evening. Their fee structure varies as per shifts but still cost of studying at a private college is pretty high as compared to a public college.
The public colleges charge fee annually which presently is between Rs3,000 to Rs4,000. The students enrolled in computer science programme or second shift pay additionally Rs300 per month.
Whereas at a slightly better private college monthly fee (unlike public colleges) ranges between Rs3,000 to Rs6,000 and even more per month depending upon science or arts group of studies. This is enough to understand the difference between cost of public or private college education in the province and still most people prefer sending their children to private institutes.
This is an open secret that many of the private colleges, especially those owned by big private education groups, have their ‘visiting’ faculty from public colleges. Some private colleges in order to attract SSC (Matric) high achievers offer them complete fee waiver and even financial rewards if they (the students) get admissions to private institutes. And when these students perform well in exams the private colleges ‘cash in’ on these achievements to attract more and more students.
Talking to The News, DPI Colleges, Punjab Khalid Javed said the private colleges were operating under the Punjab Private Educational Institutions (Promotion and Regulation) Ordinance 1984 and action was always taken against violation of the subsequent rules. He said the teachers of government colleges used to teach at private colleges, adding however now the HED Punjab has made their presence mandatory within their respective colleges during the college hours.
Answering a question, the DPI Colleges said at the time of registration and renewal etc private institutes present list of regular faculty members and other facilities available. Replying another question, he said since a government teacher was a full time employee of the department he/she was not expected to teach at a private college in the evening too.
Aftab Ahmed, whose son goes to a leading private college, says he preferred private college over public one for his son because of quality of education and discipline at the college in terms of attendance of both, students and teachers. “Mostly the students would get enrolled in public college as a mere formality of being a regular students in terms of college roll”, he said while adding “No one cares about attendance of students in public colleges. The private colleges are well-managed and well looked after, both in terms of students and teachers.”
The students enrolled in public and private colleges together make it to 74 percent of the students who passed SSC exams this year. The question is where do the rest of the students go? Almost six percent students who passed SSC exams got enrolled in 670 Higher Secondary Schools of Punjab (higher secondary schools offer intermediate classes besides middle and matriculation programmes etc). Similarly around one percent of the students were accommodated in public universities offering intermediate level classes such as Government College University (GCU-Lahore) and Lahore College for Women University (LCWU) etc.
Around eight percent students got admissions to technical education programmes such as Diploma of Associate Engineering (DAE) etc (both at private and public institutes) while rest of the 11 percent students are either pursuing further education privately at homes or have abandoned studies altogether.
When contacted, Punjab Education Minister Rana Mashhood Ahmed Khan said this time slightly less students were admitted to public colleges as compared to last year keeping in view capacity of the colleges, including available teaching faculty. “We had received more applications this year as compared to past”, he said, adding but since the government was now focusing quality education, effort was also made to get good stuff in terms of students. “We don’t want our students just to get a certificate or a degree”, he said and added “This time our only focus is quality education.” He further said the government was also working on a teachers’ training programme this year.
The minister also said in order to discourage government teachers to teach at private colleges strict measures were being taken and it was being ensured from this academic year that no teacher left his/her colleges before 2pm.

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