Experts call for ‘quality assurance’ at state, institutional levels


LAHORE: Educational quality is fast deteriorating in the country and needs immediate mechanism of effective Quality Assurance at the state level as well as at institutional level. This was the upshot of discussion at a senior faculty workshop, ‘Challenges of Quality Assurance in Education’, which was organised by the Quality Enhancement Cell (QEC) of the University of Health Sciences (UHS) on Friday. Senior management, faculty members and students attended the session.
UHS Vice Chancellor Major General (r) Prof Muhammad Aslam emphasised the need for quality assurance in higher education. He said that the UHS was effectively pursuing Higher Education Commission (HEC) policies in order to meet the set standards in various programmes.       
Punjab University (PU) QEC Director Prof Dr Aamir Ijaz said that the HEC strived to create awareness and understanding of quality and that quality assurance in higher education was a necessary ingredient to national development. “Quality is a concept; it is a philosophy; it is a journey; it is also what we practice,” he added.  
UHS QEC Director Dr Arif Rashid Khawaja said that leadership and commitment of top management played a significant role in quality improvement. He emphasised the need of putting appropriate systems and processes in place as per needs of stakeholders.
Educational Quality expert Dr Kamran Moosa highlighted challenges of quality being faced by our schools, colleges and universities and how to address them through various institutional quality assurance processes.
According to UNESCO report, around 35 million students are presently studying in Pakistan’s education systems, from primary level to universities. Quality experts believe that around 20 or 25 million students are engaged in taking tuitions, which is a proof of poor quality of classroom studies.
Around Rs 20 billion monthly, or Rs 200 billion per year, are wasted for tuition lectures, which were 100 percent rework of regular classroom lectures. By using such amount, we can open 40 or 50 new universities every year or can achieve 100 percent literacy rate. Similarly, no accreditation system like the HEC is in place to keep a check on primary/secondary level education. India now has a full-fledged accreditation system and standards for schools and colleges resulting in control of quality at these levels.
The workshop highlighted process for development of academic standards and benchmarks for schools, colleges and universities. Presently, academic standards are not defined, monitored or used effectively in our educational institutions. Most institutions, which claim high academic quality, are un-validated and exaggerated, resulting in mass victimisation of students and their families. The government needs to have serious focus for development of national policy, regulatory framework for ‘Quality Accreditation’ or ‘Educational Quality’ to avoid massive deterioration of not just education from technical point of view but also loss of national and social values, which is one of the most important objectives of education system of any country.
The participants said that social and national values were almost ignored by our institutions. They said that military training (National Cadet Corps/ Women Guards), scouting initiatives and daily assemblies had been abandoned long ago. Schools were becoming factories without social build-ups; most colleges and universities were selling their prospectus from Rs 500 to Rs 2,000 and close their admissions even before Boards of Intermediate and Secondary Education announced results. Over 90 percent of such applications become void after results are announced and institutions claiming ethical values vastly practice this immoral act.

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