Dr. Asghar Dashti
Global knowledge Economy and Knowledge Workforce are part of the neoliberal agenda. Just like that of other World Bank-funded educational institutions in the world, the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan has also implemented Associate Degree Programs to suit these corporate interests in education.
According to the new policy of HEC, the two years degree programs of B.A, B.Com, BSC, completed after 2018 will be illegal and irrelevant. Similarly, 2 years of Master Programs i.e. M.A, M.Com, MSc completed after 2020 will also be deemed irrelevant.
This new policy of HEC is one of the examples of its educational enmity and short-sightedness. While implementing this policy, the HEC did not bother to consider the problems of students who are already enrolled in these programs. The new policy will close educational doors and put an end to the career of students belonging to lower strata of the society.
Colleges and universities are non-existent in the remote areas of the country whereas in cities they are without the basic facilities to meet the educational needs of the students. Instead of addressing these issues, HEC is bent upon creating new hurdles for poor students in the pursuit of higher education.
Abolishing two-year degree programs will strip working students of the opportunity to pursue further education as private candidates. Additionally, it will affect women who study and prepare for exams sitting at home and appear in exams at the end of the year.
Given the socio-economic context of Pakistan, the new policy of HEC is a mere demonstration of decision-making that is devoid of any rationale. It has rather demonstrated its sheer incompetency and ineptitude rather by implementing this shortsighted policy.
In view of this new policy, a number of questions may arise in minds that need to be addressed:
- What will be the curriculum for this new associate degree? what type of learning will be in such a policy?
- What will be taught in place of different courses i.e. BA, B.Com, and BSc? what steps institution will take to incorporate subjects i.e. Arts, Commerce, and Sciences in Associate Degree programs?
- Are Pakistan’s colleges and other degree-awarding institutions capable enough to undertake instruction as per new associate programs?
- Similarly, how would the institutions implement associate degree programs in the digital mode of education?
And then this basic question arises: who was consulted when these policies were formulated? Did HEC bother to consult key stakeholders i.e. students, teachers, parents before the formulation and implementation of the new policy?
They may make a point by saying that respective Vice-Chancellors or like were taken into confidence. One would ask if VCs getting funds for their universities could oppose such policies?
Is there any decision-making mechanism in HEC or it directly translates orders received from the World Bank and Global Education as its policies?
There is no doubt in saying that corporate education interests derive all such policies in education. The funded projects that HEC considers improvement to bring quality in education will actually be detrimental for millions of students in Pakistan.
This is the time for students across the country to raise their voices against HEC policies which are meant to deprive millions of students of their right to higher education. At the same time, this is also the time for society to stand with students in the fight for their rights.