The quality of education, to
be imparted, is more important than the number of graduating students
By SHABBIR H. KAZMI
Oct 25 - 31, 1999
Establishing and running business schools in the private sector became
possible only because of inadequate facilities in public sector universities. But,
establishing business school became a commercial activity in the country. However, there
are some institutions both in the public and private sectors which appear to be a role
model for others.
Graduates from Institute of Business Administration (IBA), set up over
45 years back, established a niche market for the MBAs and their higher level of
remuneration. Since IBA has a physical limit with a higher demand for business graduates,
the demand and supply gap paved way for others to step into the sector and establish
While the institutions like Lahore University of Management Sciences
(LUMS), Hamdard Institute of Management Sciences (HIMS), Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST), College of Business Management (CBM) and
Asian Management Institute (AMI) came up with proper infrastructure, a large number of
business schools are Pakistan/Karachi chapter of foreign universities. Some of these
campuses have been recognized by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and others are
still in the process of getting a formal recognition by the Commission. Similarly, many
public sector universities which did not have faculty of management sciences have also
started BBA and MBA courses and specialized programmes in banking, finance and information
IBA has the longest history of imparting education in management
sciences. It is the oldest centre for business education in the country. It has a history
of over 45 years. Many reputed local, multinational and transnational companies operating
in Pakistan looks towards IBA for their need for professional managers. The Institute has
been constantly reviewing its curricula and introducing new disciplines to meet the
increasing demand. However, IBA has never compromised on quality.
LUMS was established in 1985, since its inception it has emerged as one
of the leading centers of excellence in management education in Pakistan. LUMS aims to
improve the quality of higher education in the country in the areas of management,
economics and computer sciences. Its mission is to leave on impact on the theory,
thinking, practice and performance in the fields of management, economics and policy,
technology and related areas.
LUMS is in the business of knowledge generation (research) and
knowledge dissemination (teaching). The University serves and strives to make an impact on
diverse groups. Its reputation stems from the value, excellence and relevance of its
programmes, the expertise and commitment of its faculty and the dedication and quality of
SZABIST has a very brief history of around 4 years and many Pakistanis
know relatively little about it, but the institute has been termed as number two in
Pakistan and number 28 in Asia on the basis of a survey conducted by Asiaweek for the year
1999. The Institute is among the first few educational institutes who developed their
website to facilitate the students to know more about the Institute and the courses
offered. Another feature which distinguishes SZABIST from other institutes is that at
present nearly 40 students are busy in preparing their doctorate theses at the Institute.
The College of Business Management (CBM), Karachi has been making
efforts to excel in all the four areas. These are quality of teaching, regular updating of
curricula, quantum and quality of research and training for the faculty. CBM is the only
business school in Pakistan, which offers foreign language courses (Arabic, French and
German) as part of its BBA (Hons) curriculum.
Asian Management Institute (AMI) was established when there was a trend
to establish Pakistan/Karachi chapter of foreign universities. An effort was made to
establish a local institution which could offer the best curriculum, have its own
infrastructure for imparting education and establish its own identity. Instead of starting
it in a bungalow they first constructed a 'custom designed' building, got affiliation from
a local chartered university and then only students were admitted. Now AMI is a
constituent institute of Iqra University which has been awarded charter by the government
The Institute of Business Administration, Sukkur is affiliated with IBA
Karachi. It has adopted the same curriculum of IBA as well as introduced some new
programmes. The institute is trying to establish linkages with Applied Economics Research
Centre, Karachi University and National University of Science and technology.
Institute of Business Administration, Jamshoro, was established in
1979. It started operations from I. I. Kazi Library building. Later it was shifted to new
building at the main campus.
When one looks at the curricula and process of evaluation at present,
it is evident that it is much different from what it used to be 25 years ago. Now many
business schools admit students in BBA after intermediate and there are plans to start
this education after matriculation level. The purpose to induct the students after
intermediate is to enable them to go through a unified process of higher education.
One may have a different opinion, but, it is true that the process of
teaching separate curricula to students of medicine and engineering starts from class 9th
which continues up to intermediate level. This is because these students need different
basic education and should also possess a minimum qualification to be admitted in the
professional colleges. According to an academician, previously the students with BA, BCom
and BSc degrees were admitted in BBA (Hons). Their basic knowledge about accountancy,
economics, management etc. was not comparable. The result was while some of the students
enjoyed advantage many others were at a disadvantage. The entry into business schools
after matriculation may help in resolving this issue to a larger extent but previous
medium of instruction would continue to have its adverse impact.
What frustrates the graduates the most at the time of employment is
that the graduates from certain institutions are given preference on the graduates
qualified from other universities. It appears that MBAs from various institutions are not
treated at par which also results in a significant variation in their remuneration. To
some extent, UGC is responsible for the mushroom growth of business schools but to a large
extent the whole education system in the country can be blamed for the discrimination.
According to some academicians, the quality of finished products
largely depends on the raw material. Parents and students have their own preferences for
institutions. When they are not able to get admission in the most preferred institutions
they opt for the second best and so on. Therefore, the 'education standard' of entrants
vary drastically in these business schools. Then comes the quality of educators, the
curricula and the quality of appraisal of students.
However, the real issue is basic education system in the country. The
students desirous of seeking admission in these institutes come from different media of
instructions, regions or localities. They have a visible difference in vision, knowledge,
perception and the ability to comprehend the text books mostly published outside
Pakistan. But, the real problem remains the previous media of education. The students
belonging to two distinct media Urdu and English even if they hold the same
degree just cannot match, simply because one cannot comprehend the western text books
efficiently and unable to express himself lucidly as some other groups can do. Therefore,
most of the time and energy of students from Urdu medium are wasted in learning English
language rather than concentrating on the subject. Not only this, the Urdu medium students
always remain suppressed due to inferiority complex before the English medium students.
One of the IBA graduates narrating his story said: "I did my basic
schooling at a government school with Urdu being the medium of instructions. While I was
doing my F.Sc. (pre-medical) I faced the worst time as all my text books were in English
and that resulted in poor percentage in final results. Doing my B. Sc. was no fun because
a simple graduate had no prospects for job. Fortunately, I qualified the IBA entry test
which was possible only because of the efforts of my teachers at schools and college who
gave me a vision. I may be an exception, how many students being taught at Urdu medium
schools really get this opportunity?"
Some very interesting observations were made at 'National Conference on
Restructuring IBA Curriculum'. But, the most important suggestion was 'training of
trainers'. It is very pertinent and it was pointed out: "Some of the teachers are
still using outdated textbooks and notes which they had prepared or given to them by their
teachers when they themselves were students. Teachers have little interaction with trade
and industry. We need to produce managers who should be capable to face the challenges of
next millennium. Therefore, there is a need to refresh and refurbish their knowledge
enabling them to understand and meet the demands of present day's students".
Another observation was that while most of business schools in Pakistan
use western textbooks and foreign case studies, the students must be exposed to the local
environment. There is a wide gap between the bookish knowledge and the working environment
in Pakistan. It was pointed out that internships were not properly planned and executed.
The duration is also not sufficient and the minimum period should be one year. The
students should be awarded degree only after they successfully complete the internship and
their detailed report is thoroughly evaluated.
According to a senior business executive, "There is a wide gap
between the bookish knowledge of graduates and the realization of working environment in
the country. Once these graduates start working, they have a very high level of
expectations but very shortly they experience very high level of frustration. Many of
these students are educated and groomed to be the decision makers but in real practical
life, when they join, they are not the decision makers. In reality they are often treated
as not more than 'dignified clerks'. Many companies even do not use those decision making
tools which they have been taught to use. This elusion is mainly due to 'Seth culture'
prevailing in trade and industry. The same is also true with a large number of public
limited companies. The entry level at multinational and transnational companies is also
very low trainee and then their policies, extensive procedures and methods
do not allow the graduates to really use their 'brain'.
According to one of IBA graduates, "While we are ready to enter
the next millennium, we still have agrarian psyche, we are afraid of education and using
modern decision making tools. We do not believe in long-term planning." Most of our
plans are reactions rather than being proactive. Research and strategic planning are
unknown and unheard words. Therefore, allow me to say that only good quality business
schools can provide the vision of managing the business it should have been run. It is
also the responsibility of business graduates to apply their knowledge. If this knowledge
is used skilfully and in an appropriate manner even the most autocratic decision maker
will be obliged to consider it before making his final decision.
While the world now uses participative decision making, in Pakistan
many companies still make the decisions at the top level and then the executives are made
to implement these decisions. The world is changing so fast that now it is physically not
possible for an individual to remain equally conversant in each discipline of business
management. The need for professional managers, specializing in various disciplines, is
increasing and the demand can only be met by imparting education in management sciences to
a larger number of students. This will not only help in controlling production of
graduates in the areas having little employment opportunities but run Pakistan's trade and
industry in more efficient manner.
In this regard the words of Dr. Javaid Leghari of SZABIST must be
remembered: "We have entered from information era to speed era. With the accelerated
rate of globalization and availability of information the success lies in processing the
information and then making prompt decisions. Therefore, the growth and development of
business is in the following of proactive approach and not reacting to the changed
According to a senior business executive, when a Japanese asked some
Pakistani officials that what were Pakistan's plans for next fifty years, he very
innocently said, "We do not have 50-year planning, at the best we work on 5-year plan
but mostly we work according to annual development programme." One may say that
Pakistan is rich in all types of resources but it is a very badly managed country.
Therefore, be it a government official or a business executive, it is necessary that every
one should study modern management sciences and then apply them in the day to day
management to make Pakistan an economically strong country.
One should have the courage to accept the fact that there are 'white
collar' crimes and corruption in Pakistan. At a recent seminar on "The Role of
Accountants in Eliminating Corruption", Frank Harding, the President of International
Federation of Accountants, was the chief guest. This seminar was jointly organized by
Institute of Cost and Management Accountants (ICMAP) and Institute of Chartered
Accountants (ICAP). At the seminar it was suggested that Pakistan should follow
standardized and international accounting systems. These systems provide more disclosure
and 'qualifying notes' by the auditors. It becomes easier to compare one company with
another within a sector and find out if an entity is not being managed in an effective and
efficient manner. This can help the regulators to issue timely warning and also facilitate
hostile takeovers, mergers and acquisitions to stop the unit from going sick.
In many NBFIs and DFIs, business graduates work in project appraisal
departments. The increasing number of sick units shows some structural weaknesses in the
process of appraisal. It is due to two reasons: non-availability of authentic data about
various sectors and inadequate exposure to local business environment including demand and
supply situation in any particular industry. Another issue is the ever changing policy of
the government which changes the economics of an industry over night.
All these weaknesses emphasize the need for higher quality of business
education. The aim should be to produce the business leaders not the business managers. If
these schools are not able to groom future leaders, it is their failure to deliver a
product demanded by the market. While enough attention is being paid to redefine the
curricula less attention is being paid on the quality of faculty. Business schools just
cannot attract higher quality teachers as their remuneration is much below their real