Honest and dynamic leadership is essential for the development of any organization or country. It is aptly stated that “an organization without effective leadership is like a deep-sea ship without a captain.”
While PM Imran Khan often provides examples of countries such as Singapore or Malaysia and how committed leadership in these countries has made their respective countries quite prosperous in recent decades, what Prime Minister Khan and his team have achieved so far: let it be decided by jury (people) in due time.
There is currently almost no good news about most public sector organizations and their performance. In particular, the news from the public sector university paints a bleak picture of the overall situation. Occasionally we hear that some of the oldest and largest public universities do not have funds to provide pensions for retired employees. These high chairs of study, especially at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, often ask the government to provide them with bailout packages so they can provide their staff and faculty with salaries and pensions on time.
Recently, Peshawar University, the oldest and largest state-run higher education institution in the province, issued a notice informing its employees that the organization was unable to pay them full wages due to financial constraints. “It was informed to all interested parties that due to financial constraints, the university was unable to disburse full salaries to its employees for January 2021. Only base salary plus personal salary will be disbursed for the same month,” the notice said.
Unfortunately, the fate of Gomal University in DI Khan, the second largest and oldest institution in the province after Peshawar University, is no different when it comes to financial sustainability and an increase in abuse cases.
And not only these old and prestigious places of study, but also a number of new universities – particularly those founded in the current millennium – are making headlines for mismanagement, cases of harassment, corruption, nepotism, and undue political interference.
Among the new universities in KP and elsewhere across the country, several are successfully delivering quality education to students at their doorstep. Several new universities have outperformed many of the oldest and largest universities in the country.
For example, it is heartening to share with readers that among new universities, the University of Malakand has accomplished a number of achievements that many older and larger educational institutions in the country have not been able to achieve – despite relatively more resources and privileged locations.
Malakand University is the first public sector university in the Malakand Division, founded in 2001 through a charter issued by the late governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Iftikhar Hussain Shah. The award was given to the first vice chancellor Professor Dr Jahan Dar Shah who confirmed meritocracy as the only criterion for faculty appointments. Fortunately, at that time the university was not considered a place to provide employment opportunities to political cronies as is the case today in most universities and other public sector organizations.
Today, this institution has made great strides in the field of education and research. Under the highly dynamic leadership of the current vice chancellor, Prof. Dr. Gul Zaman, the university has made significant progress in several areas. When I rejoined the university in 2018 after completing my post-doctoral studies from Germany it was indeed a different place from when I left it in 2016.
For example, to make effective use of resources, the administration is currently building 35 shops connected to the university. Likewise, 75 houses that were no longer used (legacy in very dilapidated condition from FDC) were renovated and handed over to employees. It is also now a permanent source of income for the university and has facilitated faculty and staff to live on campus.
During his tenure, the current vice chancellor has completed a number of projects. Within three years, a seven kilometer long parapet, a female dormitory for 200 female students and a male dormitory of the same capacity had been built. In addition, new staff dormitories, academic blocks, test centers and various other facilities have been established.
The Vice Chancellor has also taken concrete steps to establish a women’s sub-campus. The PC-I project with an estimated cost of 1497.35 million was approved by HEC recently. The establishment of a women’s sub-campus at the University of Malakand is a long-standing need.
Professor Dr Gul Zaman is not only a brilliant researcher who has been awarded a Research Productivity Award three times from the Pakistan Council of Science & Technology (PCST) and a recipient of the HEC Best University Teacher Award in 2011, he also has the ability to lead from the front to encourage and promote research. quality. To this end, to build lasting academic and institutional relations, the vice chancellor has signed numerous MoUs and agreements with national and international organizations aimed at promoting mutual cooperation in education and research.
Despite being located in a somewhat remote area and a less privileged location, the University of Malakand has excelled in both national and international rankings, which is proof that hard work, commitment and dedication definitely pay off. The university secured second place in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 12th in Pakistan and 483th in the world, as the Most Sustainable University in the World according to the UI Green Metrics World University Rankings 2020.
Likewise, according to the QS University Ranking, it is ranked first in KP, 17th in Pakistan, and 351-400 in Asia. In addition, according to the Times Higher Education Impact Ranking 2020 (UK), the University of Malakand got first place in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, fifth position in Pakistan (General Category University), ninth position in Pakistan (Special University plus General Category) as well as 401- 600 in the World.
During my regular interactions with colleagues from other universities across the country, they say when they hear about ‘Malakand’, it reminds me of the image of Talibanization, militancy and backwardness. There is no doubt that the wave of Talibanisation and the ensuing crisis of militancy has dealt a crushing blow to the overall law and order situation in the area and has profoundly affected the education sector.
While the crisis of militancy affects every segment of society and every sector of the economy, educational institutions are the main targets of this dark and evil force. In a post-conflict survey conducted by the government with support from aid agencies, it was found that a total of 664 Taliban had destroyed or damaged in five districts of the Malakand Division. While normalcy has long since recovered in the region, with the completion of the Swat Toll Road, the distance between Malakand and the city center has decreased considerably. Even before the completion of the Swat Expressway, more than 30 percent of students studying at Malakand University were from other districts.
Now that almost every district has its own university, it is truly a proud moment for those associated with this institute as it is the student’s number one choice and priority to be admitted here.
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The author holds a PhD from Massey University, New Zealand. He teaches at the University of Malakand.
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