So according to various news outlets government has decided to reduce 50% budget of government universities and has instructed VCs to run universities on charity. Major universities have halted their development projects and faculty enhancement initiatives to manage monetary deficit. This is a very surprising and risky move by the government.
Running universities on charity is not a new idea. In United States most universities are run on Alumni funds and Industrial funds for education. Students who pass out from universities are convinced to add to their Alumni funds, business community pays so that they can have well equipped work force to run industry. And some universities meet their major expenses through these fundings.
But why such a step in Pakistan can be a huge detriment for education expansion, as an educationist in a recognized university, these are my observations:
1.Most of our university kids are sent to this system to get degrees and to get jobs. So unintentionally they have this business concept of education, you pay fee and you learn knowledge. And as you get degree, now you have to earn back the spent money. Therefore giving back to university for them would mean to delay recovering the spent amount.
2.Secondly, in foreign countries most students are financially responsible for only their own selves. They don’t study because they have to earn for an entire family, so for them to give a small amount from their earnings is easy. In our universities, especially government sector, students are sent by parents to be able to support family financially. So they have huge financial responsibilities.
3.A major part of charity in foreign universities comes from business community. Most of their business community is a well-equipped educated class who is aware of importance of education both in terms of societal uplift and industrial requirements. Our business community has majorly those people who quit education because they already had forums to earn money so why to study, so to expect major funding from such a community is a doubtful hope.
4.Moreover, with the kind of assistance we are providing to our business community from government in terms of taxes and import export regulations we are making hard for major businesses to run successfully so if they are struggling with their own expenses, they might contribute to some extent but not to a large extent.
5.Most importantly, with no proper law enforcement and transparency system in educational institutes, this charity slash funding concept will further reinforce already existing major corruption and sifarish/favoritism culture in government institutes. People who will give heavy funding to universities will get their kids and relatives admitted without merit, they will get people of their choice to be appointed at such places.
To establish this system, before cutting off the funding, you need to develop a mechanism. A mechanism which develops awareness among people about importance of giving money for education, a mechanism that will ensure that those who give funding don’t use it for personal advantages. Without a mechanism rather than reducing education disparity we would be further enhancing it. If government universities are not able to collect enough charity to afford expanses they will raise tuition fees and middle class and lower middle class that is already struggling will further struggle to get their kids educated. Corruption in education will increase in hiring, in admissions, which is already there, and frustrated youth is a ticking bomb for any society and same will happen for us.
Good political parties across world get popularity on the basis of their visionary mandate and only those governments get to actually change conditions that live up to their vision. PTI had equal education and education for all as its major feature in its mandate and yet this drastic move seems very opposite to its own core values.
Sad part about such a step is that neither there is an uproar or anger from educationists, students or local community. That strongly reflects how much we are ready to invest in our education