By Muhammad Bashir Chaudhry
Jan 05 - 11, 2004



According to a recent press report, there is acute shortage of accommodation at the girls' hostel at Sindh University, Hyderabad. Four or five girl students are crowded into a hostel room meant for two students. The university has only Marui hostel for girls. There are about 150 rooms, of which 114 rooms were constructed in 1965. In 1965 only 50 girl students were residing in the hostel but presently their number has jumped to about 1,000. Due to increased number of the girl students, the university authorities have converted the TV and sports halls into living quarters. Due to overcrowding the hostel rooms give the look of dormitories. It is said that a large number of girls had applied for hostel accommodation but due to limited space many of them are on waiting list. Girl students from the four provinces, Northern Areas and foreign countries are also residing in the Marui hostel.

The university, due to resource constraints, is not in a position to overcome shortage of residential accommodation for girl students by adding a new block to the existing hostel or construct another hostel. A few months ago, the Chairman, HEC had visited the hostel and reportedly promised funds for the construction of another block but so far the funds have not been received. However, the press report is silent about the efforts made by the university authorities to complete the paper work including submission of a project document with capital cost details for formal consideration and approval of funds by the HEC, which is known to be moving fast under the dynamic leaderships of its chairman.

The students need peaceful, safe and congenial atmosphere during their stay at the hostel. Due to overcrowding it will be difficult if not impossible to live and study in a relaxed manner in the hostel. Non-availability of TV and sports hall might have added to their difficulties and frustration. Due to such high occupancy, other facilities at the hostels would also be under stress. The students might be living under tension and could be easily irritated. In such situation, verbal and physical fights among the students cannot be ruled out. The prevailing conditions in the hostel would also adversely affect their attendance and comprehension during classrooms lectures or research. It is feared that due to these reasons, the government efforts for improving the quality of higher education might also be thwarted to an extent.



The girl students, who could not get a room in the hostel, might not easily succeed in making alternate arrangements for accommodation in the city. There is only limited accommodation in the hostel for working women, if any, and it would be impossible for the girl students to get accommodated there. Private accommodation in the city would surely cost more and every student might not afford that. For a short while one might live with a family of close relatives but this is not feasible in the long run. Some girls might not have such an option available. Girl students living in city might also face security problems or social taboos. Due to these factors, a few bright students might have to discontinue their university education. All these students deserve encouragement and the society must offer them opportunities for higher education including safe accommodation at the hostel. These days at various levels of the government and the multinationals there is lot of talk about women emancipation. It would be difficult to visualize any emancipation unless obstacles described above in the way of higher education are effectively removed.

The university authorities are urged to compassionately look into the whole issue and pursue the case diligently with HEC. It is presumed that the authorities have already submitted the project details in the desired format to HEC and also made arrangements for providing their own share of funds for the purpose. In case there are shortcomings in the provision of requisite details to HEC, the same may be provided at the earliest. Also, if the university is not in apposition to easily meet the prescribed conditions attached to HEC funds, the same should be discussed and resolved. If need be, the university can seek financial assistance from different industries and institutions who might help for such a good cause. Sometime, such institutions agree to construct for free a block to the hostel or the school/college/hospital building.

The HEC authorities are also urged to kindly look into the project pertaining to addition of another block to the Marui Hostel of the Sindh University and release the necessary funds so that construction is taken in hand for providing accommodation to the girl students from the next education session. The concerned people from the Sindh University may also be guided and supported in the execution of the project. HEC by provision of proper hostel accommodation with peaceful atmosphere to the girl students would be making available an important ingredient for quality education.

Due to paucity of funds generally with the public sector universities and professional institutes, it is presumed that hostel accommodation for girls is normally not sufficient. The HEC authorities might consider instituting a nation-wide survey to assess the adequacy of hostel accommodation as well as other facilities found in good hostels for the girl students. Hostel rules & regulations, expenses and mess charges might also require rationalization. Based on the survey results, fresh grants might be considered for construction of the requisite accommodation and other facilities for various hostels for the girl students. HEC might possibly secure additional funds for the purpose from other ministries/departments and grants from international agencies and institutions. HEC might consider selling them the concept of 'Women Emancipation through Quality Education' for mobilizing grants for financing of more hostels for the girl students.