The BA/BSc results declared on August 20 by the Punjab University show that not a single public sector college in Lahore or elsewhere in Punjab got any of the top three positions in the examinations.
All top positions went to private colleges. For example, in the BSc examination, first and third positions went to the girl students studying in private colleges of Gujranwala and Lahore, while the second position was grabbed by a private college of Chakwal. Similarly, in the BA examinations, all the three top positions went to the students studying in private colleges of Lahore and Sheikhupura.
Officials in the education department have their own explanation on the subject. Director Education of Colleges, Lahore Division, Nasim Akhter Anjum told TNS: “You can’t compare public sector colleges to the elite private colleges. They charge high fee from the students whereas public sector colleges charge only three or four thousand rupees annually. Ninety-nine per cent private colleges are not showing good result. Only one or two private colleges are obtaining top positions.” Furthermore, “these colleges attract toppers by giving them incentives. I think public sector colleges of Lahore should be compared with public sector colleges of other cities of Punjab”.
But they are cognisant of their shortcomings, he said adding that Lahore Division Directorate Colleges kept holding meetings with principals of the city colleges. “We are analysing the results and will take measures to further improve the academic standards of the colleges of Lahore.”
Education researcher at Punjab University IR Department, Dr Professor Rafaqat Ali Akbar, said there was no proper mechanism of accountability of teachers of public sector colleges. They are not promoted on the basis of performance.
“There is a so-called ACR on the basis of which a teacher is given promotion but the principal rarely prepares an ACR against his teacher,” said Akbar.
There is no incentive for the teachers who perform well nor is there punishment for those who don’t. “Teachers giving poor results are not censured or transferred as a punishment. Public sector college teachers depend on guide books and remain selective in teaching their students; they don’t even bother to see the curriculum,” he said.
They are not pushed to go to libraries or send their students to library for extra study. “Unfortunately, the public sector colleges don’t have clear learning standards. It is true the government-run colleges charge nominal fee from the students but their teachers do get high salaries,” said Akbar adding that the world over, intermediate education is taught in school but in Pakistan it is given in the college putting extra burden on the college. He was of the view that only higher education should be imparted in college.
Commenting on the BA/BSc results, a public sector college professor said, on condition of anonymity: “I don’t think top positions should be a yardstick to gauge the performance of a public sector college. These colleges ensure more and more enrolment of students; otherwise hundreds of students may be deprived of admissions each year. So, the overall result does matter. If a college has a good pass percentage and majority of students get first division, I think, that college should be viewed as a good institution because good results are a proof of hard work from both teachers and students.”
Political interference remains a bane for public sector colleges. Teachers’ transfers are made under political influence and they are harassed by bureaucrats in one way or the other, resulting in their bad performance, he said. “More importantly, the class size in public sector colleges is too big and, ultimately, it becomes difficult for a teacher to give students individual attention; this is an advantage that private colleges have,” said the professor.