Corruption in PU

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There is no bigger tragedy than corruption knocking the doors of educational institutes. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has arrested Punjab University ex-vice chancellor Dr Mujahid Kamran and four other former administrative officials. The main charge they are facing is 550 illegal appointments, mostly grade 17 and above between 2013 and 2016. The allegations are that most of the jobs were given on a contract basis and no selection rules were followed and the contracts were renewed. This is extremely troubling as this puts the future of the generations at stake. Corruption, illegal appointments and nepotism has no place in educational institutes.

In his address to the Constituent Assembly, the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah termed corruption as the biggest evil in existence. One of the biggest curse is bribery and corruption. That really is a poison. It needs to be put down with an iron hand, said the founder. Unfortunately, the iron hand that Mr Jinnah had referred to in his notable quote is nowhere to be seen in the Pakistan of today.  Corruption is now a culture in Pakistan. If one in a thousand is not committing corruption, he  is actually suffering from a loss.

In this particular scenario, students are being deprived of the best education that they expect when entering our educational institutes. Unfortunately, many teachers are not being hired on merit; rather favouritismf. This is not a precedent that the university chancellor could afford to set for his students.

The quality of education in the public sector is plummeting in Pakistan and the entire education system is facing institutional decay. It appears that the factors responsible for the sorry state of affairs of education converge on a single point corruption. Corruption in education is not a problem tormenting Pakistan alone. It pervades the whole world, even countries that are the flag-bearers of modern learning and boast of a top-class academia. Unesco in a 2007 report examined in detail how corruption damaged universities and schools around the world. Koichiro Matsuura, the then director-general of Unesco, remarked that “such widespread corruption not only costs societies billions of dollars, it also seriously undermines the vital efforts to provide education for all.”

While corruption in education is a global issue, an objective comparison between corruption trends in Pakistan and other states reveals marginal differences in terms of nature, means and methods. In Pakistan, corruption in education is institutionalised in such a way that it has become the norm, whereas in other countries rogue elements are involved in corruption at the individual level and in a clandestine manner. This arrest can break this trend. The NAB needs to conduct a thorough investigation and reach to the bottom of this. Moreover, court and government need to take an exemplary stance against this, so that this brewing culture can be choked. It is high time to clean our educational institutes from this deadly virus.