By Khadeja Masaud.
Research shows that there is only half as much variation in student achievement between schools as there are among classrooms in the same school. If you want your child to get the best education possible, it is actually more important to get him assigned to a great teacher than to a great school. Bill Gates
There are number of articles which talk about lack in research or not much work in research. But there are few which discuss and debate about inside story of those students who aspire to be researcher and take first step with their thesis in their final year of study. Universities are producing thousands of graduates every year but unable to produce credible research and researcher. Most of the known reason is institution’s focus on quantity than quality. In 2002, Higher Education Commission (HEC) introduced reforms in universities and thousands of scholars were sent abroad for higher studies.
Although HEC makes sure that scholars do come back after completing their education in foreign countries by signing a legal agreement with them, however HEC has set no criteria for the number and quality of publications produced during the course of these PhDs. Another cruel fact is that the trend of research is on decline in the public-sector universities because these universities are making all-out efforts to give affiliation to as many colleges in order to earn money in the form of examinations and other fees being charged from the students.
“research culture in Pakistan is generally out of fashion among graduate and postgraduate students”
This race of collecting money and commercialization of institutes give birth to more issue related to qualified and well-equipped teaching staff. Normally it is seen, that when a student comes to a teacher for purpose of supervision of his research work (thesis) supervisor is unable to guide student throughout the process because he has not enough experience or his research work isn’t on a better scale. Students often complain about supervisor’s lack of abilities in research field especially in terms of technical matters.
Most of the teachers are not able to guide their research students on the basics of research methodology. Although, Universities do offer Research methodology as a course but on ground reality this course doesn’t conduct in such manner that fulfil an aspiring researcher needs because instructor mainly focus on theory then practice. Most of the instructor teach their students only general and very basic concept of research methodology, which includes sampling, questionnaire, population etc. A student can understand these simple things but most of the teachers do not focus on techniques and strategies of research methodology which are very important to know for those who do thesis in their final year. Although these topics do exist in a approved course outline by HEC, but main problem is the way teachers and instructors teach this subject.
Research culture in Pakistan is generally out of fashion among graduate and postgraduate students as students predominantly are not introduced with the meaning of critical thinking and analysis. Students are more focused on reading material provided by the universities rather than developing their own opinions and arguments which are based on research works. However, research work in Pakistan starts from universities level for graduate or post graduate programs which is very difficult for a student.
“students complain that supervisor do not cooperate with them in terms of value of time, material guidance, wastage of student’s money”
Research work should be introduced from the college level, so student can get an idea how it works. Pakistani education system is already behind from all over world, that is why students are not being introduced with the current education system. Another issue is that universities have few research centers, which are not well equipped research conduct is of very low quality work. Specially in the field of social sciences, there is a huge gap of research labs for social scientists.
There is another issue found about egoistic and non-cooperative behavior of supervisor. Most of students complain that supervisor do not cooperate with them in terms of value of time, material guidance, wastage of student’s money. Many female students even complain about harassment from their male supervisor. Research advances curiosity and develop an eagerness to look for, and find, better solutions to our everyday problems or better explanations for whatever happens. During the selection of topic for student’s research work supervisor tend to force student to choose topic according to their expediency rather than his own will or area of interest.
“allocation for research and development expenditure have always remained low in Pakistan, with only 0.29% allocation of GDP”
During the course of student’s thesis, a big sum of money also spends which is way more problematic itself. Financial needs can be overcome by giving a chance to students and companies to work together. In this case both parties can get benefit in form exchange of ideas and money. Companies or interested parties can get their demanded research and in exchange student can get reasonable amount. This chance will not only provide solution of finance, breeding of new ideas but also gives an opportunity to students to do practical work at first hand.
Another issue which is a big obstacle for students is sufficient availability of material resource. Specially in library. Students often complain that they can’t find any specific book related to their topic or there are not variety of books, journals in library. Allocation for research and development expenditure have always remained low in Pakistan, with only 0.29% allocation of GDP, much less than the average expenditure in developing countries (2.4%) of their GDP on research.
The pretext of higher or tertiary education is rest upon primary and secondary education in Pakistan. Which itself is skinned into social and economic muddle including poverty and unemployment, jerry-built evaluation system, lower allocation of budget, lack of facilities and infrastructure, high dropout and lower enrolment and security concerns are ascribing towards its deposition. Due to these issues, students enter universities, carrying weak concepts and understandings of academic subjects. Further they face problems at university level and these confused students become instructor and teachers of other confused university student who aspires to be a researcher.
Khadeja Masaud, a graduate in International Relations, her area of interest is conflict, strategy and development.
She can be reached at facebook at khadeja.masaud