Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Pervez Khattak in December 2015, promised, while addressing an event held at Shuhada-e-APS Memorial Library in higher education department Peshawar, that KP government would establish a university campus in each of the provincial districts.
The establishment of public university in each district has been mentioned in the 2013 general elections manifesto of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). According to PTI’s elections manifesto, they promised KP residents, if voted into power will establish public university in each district in collaboration with private sector.
This was part of ‘Education for All’ component of the manifesto to provide standardised education to the society. The manifesto stated that quality of higher education had deteriorated with the exodus of qualified professionals, facing continuous decline in the absence of professional capacity of faculty members.
Furthermore it read: “Applied research is almost non-existent. For a country of 160 million, there are only 85 universities with approved charters, of which only 8 in the public sector and 18 in the private sector are degree-awarding institutions.
“The PTI is determined to launch a national education movement based on equity to achieve increased access and improved quality of education at all levels,” the manifesto read.
While talking to Truth Tracker, the Awami National Party (ANP)’s Central leader Bushra Gauhar sees PTI’s government as an engineered plan by certain ‘actors’ to make every sector worst including education.
She said the promise of establishing universities in each district wasn’t fulfilled for their incompetency. She accused PTI for allocating funds for seminaries and therefore extending an open support for ‘militants’ but failing to invest in the education sector.
ANP, in the past tenure in KP, has established total of 10 universities in the province. The campuses includes up-gradation of Islamia College Peshawar to University, establishments of Bacha Khan University Charsadda, Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan (AWKUM), University of Swabi, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University Upper Dir, University of Haripur, Khushal Khattak University Karak, Women University of Swabi, sub campus of AWKUM in Lower Dir and Chitral.
“This [establishment of university campuses portray clear vision of ANP for promotion of education which we have achieved rather than offering hollow promises,” Gauhar said, adding that those having agenda of promoting extremism couldn’t invest in education sector.
When asked about lack of resources, she said after 18th amendments it was responsibility of the provinces to increase resources and provide education to the people at their doorsteps.
“Establishment of fully functional campuses in districts have vital role in increasing provincial literacy and higher education rates particularly of females who are reluctant to join universities in metropolitan for varieties of reasons.”
According to the budget documents of 2016-17, funds have been allocated to establishment of various campuses in Mardan, Swabi, Buner, Upper Dir and Chitral.
This includes establishment of Women University campus in Swabi with an allocation of Rs900 million, and that of Women University at Mardan, for which Rs100 million have been earmarked.
Furthermore, for strengthening of AWKUM Buner campus, total of Rs50 million have been allocated but it’s not the establishment of new campus. For establishment of sub campus of Peshawar’s engineering university has been reflected in the Annual Development Program (ADP) but no funds have been allocated for it.
Similarly up gradation of Chitral university has been mentioned in the ADP, but no funds have earmarked for its establishment.
Talking to the Truth Tracker, Advisor to Chief Minister for Information and Higher Education Mushtaq Ghani said the promises made by PTI were in the stage of fulfillment.
He said already Swabi’s Women University has been established while full pledge universities at Lakki Marwat, Chitral, and Buner districts are in process while sub campuses of universities will be established at Batagram, Shangla, Hangu and Tank will be established in near future.
When asked if it could be completed in PTI tenure, he said all projects are expected to be completed in the current tenure of PTI in the province. “All the projects are in the process of completion and will be functional till end of tenure of PTI government.”
Ghani said University of Technology at Nowshera and Abbottabad University of science and technology have already been established by the incumbent government.
When asked about PTI promise of establishing campuses in each district which is 25, he said when the on-going projects become completed, this would be campus in each district but he didn’t clarify what would be happen of the rest of the districts including Tor Ghar, Swat, D.I. Khan, Upper Kohistan, Lower Kohistan, Lower Dir, and Bannu.
However, some experts believe quantity is more important than quality when it comes to opening campuses in the districts. Speaking to Truth Tracker, Nasir Jamal Khattak, Chairman Department of English and Applied linguistics, who also served at Kohat University as vice chancellor, said that the developed countries are more focused on quality rather than quantity.
“I personally believe the intellectual capacity in KP and in the whole of Pakistan wouldn’t be sufficient to run campuses properly in all 25 districts of KP,” he commented, adding, “in the developed countries students are expected to spend at least a semester in foreign countries for strengthening their understanding for cultures of others alongside academia.”
When asked if campuses were important particularly for females, he said there is no need of segregation on the basis of sex, cast or gender and everyone should be allowed to get education from anywhere in the country.
Keeping in views of officials and independent observers, Truth Tracker rules that PTI has failed to establish university campuses in each district of the KP in over four years of its government in the province.