Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The State Of Higher Education In Pakistan

Physicist Pervez Hoodbhoy writes in The Express Tribune:

Pakistan’s university teachers and researchers have roughly the same ethical standards as its politicians, generals, judges, and shopkeepers. Hiding in the shadows is even easier because it is hard for non-academics to tell the difference between trivial and significant works. So once the PCST and HEC announced cash awards and other perks, almost overnight a research-poor country started producing a bumper crop of “research articles” year after year. The HEC claimed victory but many papers were tired repetitions, contained fake data, were plagiarised, or published in fly-by-night journals. Dr Isa Daudpota, an intrepid academic trouble-shooter has, over the years, documented the academic sleaze. Such stark evidence has, unfortunately, had scant effect upon the HEC.

Prof. Hoodbhoy has been harsh before about the state of science education in Pakistan and has gotten into trouble danger of being harmed physically.. over teaching human evolution at a University.

Kenneth Chang wrote an article about that incident in the New York Times a while ago-

Pervez A. Hoodbhoy, a prominent atomic physicist at Quaid-e-Azam University in Pakistan, said that when he gave lectures covering the sweep of cosmological history from the Big Bang to the evolution of life on Earth, the audience listened without objection to most of it. “Everything is O.K. until the apes stand up,” Dr. Hoodbhoy said.

Mentioning human evolution led to near riots, and he had to be escorted out. “That’s the one thing that will never be possible to bridge,” he said. “Your lineage is what determines your worth.”

Its disheartening to see that Prof. Hoodbhoy judges it as something that will never be possible to bridge. Religious fundamentalism is destroying science education.  I doubt the cancer will be going away any time soon.

HT: Nanopolitan

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