Griffith College is the largest independent college in
Ireland. The Karachi Campus is an outreach facility or a branch of the college
in Ireland, and it offers a totally European degree in Pakistan. The programmes
offered include Computing Science, Business, Management, and Finance. The
programmes are approved by both University Grants Commission (UGC), Pakistan,
and the National Council for Educational Awards (NCEA), Ireland.
When Noel Daly first boarded a plane to Pakistan, he
had little or no idea of the land he was going to. This was his first trip to
the East and his first time in Asia. Clearly, life for Daly was going to be very
different as Principal of Griffith College, Karachi. But it was a challenge he
approached with a spirit of both adventure and determination. And for a man for
whom "23 degree is a hot day," he's managing fairly well.
So here he is, a seemingly young 32, running an Irish college
in the rather less benign climes of Pakistan. But Daly dismisses the age factor
lightly: "If you're good enough for the job, you're old enough for the
job". And going by the fabulous relationship he has managed to build up
with his students during his one year here, Daly's age has been more an asset
than a handicap. Students respond to his informal manner with rather less fear
and more of a sense of responsibility. "To me my students aren't children,
they are young adults. And that is the way I treat them and want them to
Well accounting is an extremely rewarding career financially
speaking. Let's just say you never see an unemployed accountant! Five years ago
a friend asked me to teach a class. I was dead nervous at first. But once I
stood up there I knew it was my true calling. So I withdrew from mainstream
accountancy and went into teaching.
What do you think makes a good teacher?
To be a good teacher you have to be a good communicator. And
I found that I have the ability to communicate. My style of teaching is not
formal; it's very relaxed. I don't believe in sitting in a suite and reading
from a book. I believe in giving a large part of the responsibility to the
student. From what I have seen students here at first didn't understand the
informality since they weren't used to it. But I've had an open door policy from
day one. The students at Griffith know me on a first name basis and that's the
way I like it. And after the initial hesitance, the students have responded
warmly to the new way. Maybe some parents would like a stricter approach, but in
Europe we believe in the development of the individual. We must give the
students a sense of responsibility. They aren't children; they're young adults.
Do you find a difference between Irish and Pakistani
I must admit that I do find a difference. I think that a lot
of Pakistan students are not coming from as strong an educational background.
Frankly, the educational system here has to be caught from the throat and lifted
up. But I have noticed that students here are very eager to improve themselves.
Once you give them the benefits of a new system and a better education they
respond extremely well. I'm proud to say that every student in Griffith passed
his or her examinations this year. Same course as Ireland, same books and same
grading system since all our papers are marked in Ireland. So we have a better
record than even Griffith College, Ireland! I think there is a lot of hunger
here amongst students for a good education.
The degrees offered by Griffith are largely IT and Business
oriented, how do you find the female students are doing in what have
traditionally been male fields?
Actually the female students at Griffith are among our
brightest and best. They are very conscientious. It's nothing specifically
Pakistani or Irish. Boys are more laid back all over the world and female
students tend to take the lead. Actually if you look at our results the highest
GPA in all the subjects we offer were achieved by women.
You've been lecturing at Griffith College, Dublin, the
Munster Business Institute and the Academy of Public Relations in Ireland. But
this is your first experience as a Principal. How have you adapted to this new
Being a Principal has been a totally new experience for me. I
work much longer hours now just to catch up with the administrative part of the
job. It requires a great level of commitment but it's also a labour of love. I
have the ability to manage people well and I'm not dictatorial or autocratic. I
believe in my students and I have faith in my lecturers. Some lecturers were
initially aloof because they were used to the old way of working but now they
take interest in their students consistently. At Griffith you will see students
sitting with lecturers in the Staff lounge and discussing issues. There is a
cordial atmosphere between the teachers and the students. And that is where I
believe true learning begins.
What do you think of the dozens of new colleges that have
sprung up all over Pakistan?
In Pakistan a lot of colleges have sprung up that may be
interested only in making money and cramming as many students into the place as
they can. But at Griffith I've made sure the student is number one. They can
come to me with opinions and I will listen to them. They can come to me with
criticisms and I will listen to them. But I never want them to be scared of just
walking in to my office. Otherwise how will I know what they need? My first year
in College I was told that half of what you learn in the next four years won't
come out of a textbook. And I sincerely believe that. That is why at Griffith we
understand the need for a well-rounded education.
What do you do with the little spare time you have left over?
I'm a keen soccer player — not good but keen. What cricket
is to Pakistanis soccer is to Ireland. I'm in a Pakistani team called the Soccer
Casuals and we play lots of young teams who run much faster than we can! I've
also taken to squash since I've come here. In Ireland I was involved in
Taekwondo but haven't had much opportunity to do it here.
So what has becoming Principal Griffith College, Karachi,
meant to you in the larger scheme of things?
Ten years ago I was at a College reunion and like the other people around me
I was walking down a normal sort of path. Ten years later I wake up in Karachi
as Principal of Griffith College. If I can go back at the end of it all to
Dublin and say I started something that I followed a different path and made the
way for others to follow, then I will be more than satisfied. If I can look back
many years from now and say that I was involved in building the reputation of a
fine college then I will look back on this time and feel I have contributed
something. Actually it's started already and watching Griffith and my students
develop these are the things that make it all worthwhile.