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Gaga: Rest in Peace (b.2002 - d.2010)

Monday, November 21, 2011

National University of Modern Languages (NUML), Pakistan

NUML (NIML) was established in 1970 as a language institute and under a presidential order in the year 2000, it was given a status of a university of a public sector in Islamabad (Pakistan) which benefited many students since its inception. I could never understand why it was called National University ( or formerly: Institute) of Modern Languages because most of the languages taught there and some of their very prestigious language departments such as: Chinese, English, German, Japanese, French and Persian etc. do NOT fall in modern languages category hence the name is misleading and now that all different disciplines are taught there so the name is very confusing.

Over the years, NUML has been embroiled in scandals, corruption charges, embezzlements, napotism and last but not the least a tug of war between the military administration and a civilian academia, staff and studentbody. It can be considered a good example of an institution that is destroyed by a very flawed system of governance in Pakistan per se. It's victims were the students of NUML - who have suffered the most.

NUML made headlines in February, 2010 - when a teacher was beaten by a registrar named Obaidullah Ranjha, a retired army officer. This had to happen because  Pakistan is a country where lawlessness prevails. If we look at the history of NUML we will see that this institution was established to provide foreign language courses for the those in foreign service or in the armed forces and used to be under Quaid e Azam University - a leading university of Pakistan. Then for a short period of time, this institute fall under Allama Iqbal Open University. During Zia ul Haq's dictatorship, NIML came under the direct control of Pakistan Army and all the major posts were filled by them and finally during Musharraf's dictatorship in the year 2000, it was upgraded to a university and had a fair share of involvement of Pakistan army.

It is understandable that during the military governments, many institutions were headed by army officers however,  nothing changed during the short spells of civilian governments either.  All these civilian governments were overshadowed by the military cloud and might and hence they invested all their energy to rob the country and completely ignoring the educational sector..

Back to NUML, it does NOT make sense that the military personnel join the civil institutions after their retirement (they have a quota allocated for them in every ministry in Pakistan) - they are entitled to the best of both the worlds, isn't it. While at NUML they acted like a mafia and were involved in foulplay. Nobody was ever apprehended becuase it amounts to a sin. Moreover, the men from the armed forces knew  that they were above the rule of law. This explains what ails Pakistan to the core for years and years.

In a country of 200 million people - I wonder why we could NOT find anyone from academia to fill in these jobs and why after retiring from one public office these same people got the jobs again? As we all know that in Pakistan, unemployment is extremely high (always) and hence, the rule of hiring retired army personnel is unjust and unfair. We should follow the example of Germany where men and women who retires and are experts in their field become volunteers for the government to help them train the new officals,  help in consultancy for the institutions, a few hours every week but they do NOT takeover the jobs of new talent. Recently at NUML, a shamful incident was uncovered where people are holding jobs without qualification or where their degrees have been challanged. Unless their are heavy punishments things will NEVER change because punishment is a sort of deterrance.

On NUML's website - I was amazed to see that the English Language Department's faculty is comprised of more than 150 teachers . Yes. Over one hundred and fifty teachers! I have never come across a university with this huge a faculty in just one department in one university at one campus - even at the world's famous Ivy Leagues that have billions of dollars of budget per university. Neither have people questioned such rules and practices nor will they ever raise their voice for transparency and fairplay which is more of myth than a reality. Under successive dictatorships and severe censorships we have been brainwashed or trained to stay quiet. Raising a voice is synonymus to making enemies! I am very keen to know  how many students are enrolled in English Language Department at NUML and how many hours are allocated for teaching besides the office hours per week per teacher (professors or lecturers etc.) particularly in the English Department of NUML?

Last but not the least, the website of the said university is NOT regularly updated. Admissions or related information is NOT helpful enough for netizens. When one calls the admin office of NUML, they are  adviced to personally visit NUML - which is outdated in these times and age. Information on the faculty's academic background needs to be updated. All the teaching staffs should be required to upload their CV as is happening all over the world. The university needs transparency because it is the key to success of any institution - I suppose.

A very detailed post by Professor Sohail Masood on the matters of this university can be read here  and another post in a newspaper here which is an eye opener.

Pakistan has a great  potential, students are very dedicated and hardworking but the only thing that is lacking is the good governance with repect to these institutions. Merit system must be the only rule and system to enter university either as a teacher, staff or a student. Pakistan has produced people such as Dr. Abdus Salam a Nobel Laureate which shows that we have a huge potential but we lack honest people and visionaries. I still remember that when we went to schools and universities in 1980's and 1990's here in Pakistan - the standard of education was still very high and quite transparent but over the last 15 years or so, things have really fallen apart and the system has totally collapsed. To save Pakistan we need to save its educational institutions, revamp the educational policy and increase the budget for education.

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