Higher Education

Higher Education

Unlike school education, higher education cannot be claimed as a right. However, the state has to provide equal opportunities to all citizens to obtain higher education of quality.

Higher education in Balochistan can be understood in two different ways. Firstly the mandate of the provincial Higher Education Department and secondly the more common understanding in education parlance. The former includes colleges managed by the Higher Education Department (both Intermediate and graduate), residential and cadet colleges which conduct classes from grades 6 to intermediate, the Board of Intermediate Secondary Education and the Balochistan Academy for College Teachers (BACT).

The more commonly used definition for higher education includes universities and professional colleges right up to doctorate. The Sector Plan covers only the mandate of the provincial Higher Education Department. As BISE links with school education also, it has been discussed earlier under school education. Also a number of issues discussed in the latter apply to the relevant levels managed by the Higher Education Department. In this section the primary academic focus will be on the undergraduate programmes in colleges managed by the higher education department. Universities and professional colleges have not been included in the plan. The BESP recommends a more detailed study focused on higher education, especially, universities and professional colleges.

10.1.1. Current Situation


The undergraduate level in the province forms the weakest link in higher education. Curriculum taught in colleges and the general environment does not conform to the needs of an institute of higher education. The two year programmes are not recognized internationally as adequate for recognition of the degree as equivalent to a bachelor’s. degree. In addition to the limitations of the curriculum that has, among other things, remained unchanged for years, problems of discipline also plague college campuses. Both student politics and teacher absenteeism impact the quality of programmes imparted.

Language weaknesses (specifically low proficiency in the English language) was identified by students and teachers alike as a major impediment to the ability to pursue higher education courses. The latter, along with other weaknesses of the graduate courses, results in low employability.

The teaching-learning process in the colleges is also impacted by the weaknesses in teachers capacity, an assessment system that promotes rote learning (similar to the BISE) and high levels of teach absenteeism.

BESP targets a transition of the college sector into quality undergraduate programmes that prepare students for the world of work as well as further studies.

10.1.2. Strategic Objective(s)


Reforms in higher education (under-graduate) should target transition to 4year programmes in all faculties over a period of 10 years. During the transitional phase quality of teaching, examinations and facilities should be improved. Curriculum revisions and other approaches to improve relevance of studies for students should also be undertaken to bring a change in outcomes of higher education. The key strategic objectives are:

1.	Improve quality of undergraduate programmes through laying
	the basis for transition to a four year programme. 
2.	Improvements of outcomes of higher education for students. 

10.1.3. Strategies


The following strategies have been identified:

1.	Introduction of the 4 year bachelor’s degree in at least 
	two colleges during the plan period.
2.	Improve the teaching learning process in colleges
3.	Strengthen governance and management to improve internal efficiency
4.	Link courses to employability of the graduates

1. Transition to 4 year Programme
The Sector Plan recommends phase wise transition to 4 years bachelors programmes envisaged by the HEC in its revised curricula. In the first three years two colleges in Quetta may be picked: one male and one female.

The transition will require a number of changes, not only in the colleges concerned, but also the examination system, curriculum and textbooks. Within colleges it will entail up-gradation of facilities within the college.

The HEC has already prepared 4 year curricula for a number of courses for undergraduate. These should be focused initially for introduction in the selected colleges. It should be ensured that textbooks recommended in these courses are available to the students. The third problem will be provision of faculty. Here flexibility will be required and teachers from universities might be co-opted as visiting lecturers along with the current set of college teachers. To ensure sustainability professional development of college teachers will be pursued through the Balochistan Academy of College Teachers. This will require capacity development of BACT itself as it would not function merely as a teacher training institute but as the custodian of a ‘Faculty Development Programme’ for colleges in Balochistan.

Transitional factors will involve political resistance from current student and teachers’ bodies in the college sector. The government will need to negotiate with these organisations, involve political parties and ensure that campuses, especially of the selected colleges, are free of political interference.

The transition must be overseen by an independent body advised by officials from universities in Quetta as well as the Higher Education Commission (HEC). These organisations will have to be included in the process from the outset.
2. Improving the Teaching Learning Process
Three steps will be required. Firstly development of a programme for teacher professional development based on needs identified. Secondly strengthening of BACT as a teacher professional development institution and thirdly revamping of the current assessment system from rote inducing to conceptual testing.

The Higher Education Department will coordinate with the University of Balochistan’s department of the Controller of Examinations to standardize the current examination process for improvement of quality of the examination papers, conduct and marking. A special strategy will be developed for eradication of cheating.
3. Strengthen Governance and Management
Two key areas would be: firstly capacity development of the Directorate of Colleges to not only be involved in pure administrative and financial issues but also academic oversight and secondly elimination of politics linked to mainstream political parties from college campuses.
4. Improve Outcomes for Students
Three set of actions have been identified. Firstly a study on the market outcomes or employability of the graduates. Secondly involvement of the employers, specifically the chambers of commerce and industry in development of courses. Thirdly special provisions for enhancement of the English language proficiency for college students on the campus and also review of the current English language courses to shift to language learning from the current literature heavy courses.

Download Balochistan Education Sector Plan whole document