DIR: A sprawling building that sits on a foothill provides infrastructure for the lone girls degree college in Dir, but it hardly serves the purpose of providing education to women due to flawed and ill-conceived policies of the Higher Education (HEC) and the government.
The HEC’s hastily prepared policy to switch from the two-year BA courses to the four-year semester-based BS programme has brought the college to the brink of closing at a time when it was just taking off.
The college finds itself unable to switch to the BS programme due to a shortage of staff and proper preparation. It is, therefore, not offering admission to students, not even in a single discipline.
The college is not allowing admissions in the BA programme either and thus deprived hundreds of students to get education, literally closing down the college despite the presence of a large building.
According to sources in the college, it has 42 sanctioned teaching positions including two professors in grade 20, six associate professors in grade 19, nine assistant professors in grade 18 and 23 lecturers in grade 18 and 17.
Out of the sanctioned positions, the sources said, only five assistant professors and four lecturers, one among them on long leave, were posted at the college currently.
Among the available lecturers, two are for Islamic Studies and one each for Computer Science and Mathematics.
Assistant Professors for English, Zoology, Statistics, Health and Physical Education are available. However, they are neither taking classes for BA with students nor have they started B.S. classes, forcing second year students to migrate to other areas’ institutions or discontinue education.
A great number of female students were compelled to take admission in the degree college for boys in a conservative and remote district like Upper Dir. However, not everyone likes girls to get education in boys college and a large number of students has dropped out.
“We support the BS programme but the government needs to provide the required teaching staff for this,” said Inayatullah Khan, member of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly from Dir.
“We are opposed to co-education though,” he said and added that he would talk to the secretary of the HEC and raise the issue in the provincial assembly.
Former Tehsil Nazim Mir Makhzanuddin assailed the government for failing to provide the required teaching staff for starting the B.S. programme and said it was the right of the girls of Dir to get higher education in their area. “The BS programme has been shut down at the college and that’s wasting girls’ precious time,” he added.
The Girls Degree College Dir has been without its principal and an Islamic Studies teacher has been officiating the position.
On the other hand, the influx of girl students to the college for boys overburdened it and it is also reeling under shortage of some teaching staff.
Once the government ran campaigns and incentivized girls to bring them to schools and discourage dropouts, but now it is the government’s failure that is depriving girls of higher education and causing dropout of girl students.
Residents Bilal Majid Yousafzai, Matiullah Jan and Israr Yousafzai said they would go to any extent to ensure staff at the college and start a BS programme. They warned of protest if the BS classes were not started. “The government on one hand announced the education emergency and on the other hand shut down BS classes in the girls college. This is a huge contradiction,” said Bilal Majid.
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