At a session on higher education held on the second day of the Karachi Literature Festival on Saturday, participants agreed that universities needed autonomy and academic freedom in order to create good citizens. Several speakers also called for major reforms to the country’s higher education policies and system.
The session, titled ‘Higher Education: Creating Good Citizens, not just Good Students’, was moderated by Fauzia Shamim, who asked Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC) Chairman Prof Dr. Tariq Banuri to explain how the varsities could create good citizens, not just good students.
Our education has not focused on creating good students or good citizens, the HEC chairman said. He added that we are paying the price for the mistakes we have committed over the years.
He explained his point by pointing out that to contemplate this issue properly, one should consider several things. In the first place, he said, knowledge is something that a community produces together. The creation of knowledge is not a one-person exercise, as people learn from each other all over the world, Dr. Banuri explained, adding that human societies built common knowledge for the development of shared narratives.
He said knowledge was composed of various types. For example, epistemic knowledge is what students learn in classrooms while technical knowledge is acquired through practice, experience, involvement, and interaction.
The HEC chairman said that both the epistemic and technical knowledge had different directions and they needed separate approaches in teaching.
Need for autonomy
Adding that there is a third type of knowledge that is neither taught in classrooms nor acquired through practice and experience, he explained that it is the knowledge of justice that can only be acquired through empathy.
He explained that, for example, the experiences of a woman growing up in a Pakistani society, or being a member of a minority community or a black person in the West cannot be learned or taught.
Dr. Banuri said imparting different types of knowledge required different approaches and communication techniques. He added that if we wanted a better and more prosperous society, we should understand the medium of knowledge and the universities had a central role in all these processes.
He said university teachers can involve students in practical activities and exercises so that they can grasp the medium of knowledge, and thus become better students and citizens. To achieve this, it was necessary to ensure the autonomy of universities, he remarked. He advised the teachers and students should keep their struggle continuing for the autonomy of varsities, academic freedom, and due rights.
Read More: The Reality Of Education In Pakistan
Story Courtesy: The News
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