It is the talk of town these days that new campuses of Karakorum International University would be established in Ghizer, Hunza and Diamer district of Gilgit-Baltistan. It is pertinent to note that Karakorum University has already been running a sub-campus in Skardu district for the last many years. For a population of mere 2 million, to establish a university with 4 sub-campuses is highly praiseworthy but people at the helm of power must also think of issues requiring their immediate attention.
The importance of education is undeniable. Irrefutably, education is the central pillar for the development of a society and without which a nation cannot move forth. Education builds strong characters and futures but is it education which is obtained for education’s sake or hunting a job? Setting aside all ifs and buts, I being a denizen of GB ask myself, is our school and college educations so strong and omnipresent to satiate the need of this university and its sub-campuses? Have these feeding units become flawless and perfect that we need to turn our guns towards tertiary education now? Are we really producing hundreds and thousands of college graduates with flying colors every year that remain education-less due to unavailability of a university? And above all, do we have highly qualified and competent people who could serve in these campuses as the teaching faculty?
Gilgit being the hub is at a few hours’ drive from Hunza, Ghizer and Diamer. All these districts have only one or two good colleges whose graduates mostly prefer to pursue education from universities in down Pakistan. Express news reported recently that government degree college in Gahkuch Ghizer has been awarded degree status several years ago but couldn’t start the classes as of yet. The results of government and private colleges in this region are also devastating with meager number of students barely crossing the threshold of 33% marks.
Keeping all this in mind, I wonder if it is the need of the hour to think about new university campuses or do we need to focus on strengthening feeding units, the schools and colleges? Let us appreciate and celebrate new university campuses but we must also build exemplary schools and colleges in these regions which could lay a foundation for higher education. Let the two campuses in Gilgit and Skardu work, strengthen its roots in research and higher learning and let other regions follow suit afterwards.
Imran Bashi is a Fulbright Scholar and has studied MBA from Syracuse University in New York in United States.