Mushroom growth of IT institutes

Quality should come first

By Khurram H. Kalia
Sep 03 - 09, 2001

Chairman (Youth Wing) Ko-ordination Group

Mushroom growth is characterized to be speedy, uncontrollable, haphazard and in an unorganized manner. These qualities are the very antithesis of what education is all about. Education advocates organizing, planning and structuring. Hence, if attempt is made to mix Education with Mushroom growth, the result can only be chaos and disaster and nothing else. Therefore, the idea of this current article is not to discuss whether the impact of Mushroom growth is positive or negative. It is bound to be devastating. However, we must discuss.

a) Why mushroom growth.
b) How adverse the impact actually is.
c) Remedial and preventive actions.
d) Benefits gained from Mushroom growth (?)

Preamble- IT Trend:

Currently IT trend is going on in Pakistan and is in its boom stage. Several institutes today are offering BBA & MBA in MIS; BCS, MCS, BIT, MIT, DIT, E-commerce, M-Commerce etc. Every where you go you'll find IT institutes offering Diplomas and short courses. Not only this many existing institutes have started teaching IT courses and are offering Degrees and Diplomas. Short and crash courses are being offered for tools and languages such as Java, visual basic, C++ so on and so forth. These course offerings keep changing from time to time. As soon as a new tool or computer language comes in demand, it starts being offered in almost all the institutes, without any structured syllabi or curriculum.

Why Mushroom Growth:

Where ever a negative practice is carried on in a society or in a country it can never flourish unless and until the people of that society encourage it intentionally or inadvertently. Social practices cannot be stopped by government and legislative bodies, since they are not legally binding and thus cannot be subjected to punishments if they are wrong. An institute can never issue a degree without any authentication by a Government or UGC. Since issuance of degree is needed to be authorized therefore diploma culture is in full swing. The following are the main reasons:

No Authentication Required:

These days this is a very lucrative business. All you have to do is to rent a small place, hire two three teachers and you can have an institute of your own. Your institute needs not to be authorized by anybody and you can make good money out of it. Diplomas are not considered as degrees even though most of them cost equal to or some times more than degrees.

Low rate of Literacy in our Country:

The literacy rate of average Pakistani is very low. Due to which these simple people get tricked by these fake institutes very easily. Pakistani culture is as such that people in our country do not think before acting. They are in a habit of following the trend blindly no matter whether it actually offers a potential for them in future or not.

Difficult To Acknowledge The Official Status of Genuine Institutes:

And every where one can find IT institutes offering degrees and diplomas. Few of them are officially authorized and producing real good IT professionals. However due to the presence of so many IT institutes it's very difficult to acknowledge the official status of genuine institutes.

Short Cut Mania:

The major problem our country is facing today is the lack of struggle among our youth. The young generation of our nation is looking for short cut and they want to acquire degrees irrespective of any university. All they are interested in acquiring a piece of paper of degree and to put the degree in their resume.

Many of these Universities and institutes are not even looking for any prerequisites. Even if a person is matric passed he can be enrolled in a BBA or MBA program. With these admission criteria one can well imagine what kind of professionals they must be producing.

How adverse the impact actually is:

We shall now discuss the negative impacts of this kind of mushroom growth in detail:

Portraying a Negative Image of our country in the International Market:

Just by saying that we have so many IT institutes in our country, if a foreigner would hear that he/she would be under an impression that Pakistan has a high literacy rate, however the situation is not as it sounds. And when these "false" professionals represent our country one can well imagine what sort of impression they must be leaving. It is a matter of national image being tarnished.

Wasted Resources:

The so called IT institutes are not only charging humongous amounts of money for their virtually useless diplomas and certifications, thereby depriving poor individuals who fall prey to their lure of hard earned money but the real loss comes in terms of the "human resource" the "talent" that is WASTED which if properly trained and educated could have become an asset for our society and nation .

Frustration among Youth

These institutes which are popping up on daily bases are creating a sense of uncertainty among our youth. Moreover, when the outcome of these institutes enters the market and fails to get any decent jobs and all the dreams of instant riches that were shown to them by these institutes to lure them, explode with a band that resounds in their mind 24 hours a day. This, plus the expectations of others, such as parents, siblings etc. all cumulates and increases their frustration.

Education not Complete.

Another major problem is with those Institutes who are offering Diplomas to people and ensure a bright future to them. These diplomas are very expensive too. However only few of them providing quality education to students. In search for a bright future several students who were enrolled in school colleges quit studies and enrolled in diploma classes, All these students are in search for a shorter way through which in minimum time and cost they can get good jobs.

Now question arises if people are not willing get proper degrees and are looking for easy ways towards success, will they be able to achieve any success? Nations do not achieve success over the night. A successful nation has several generations' effort behind them. Their people strive hard to make their nation a successful nation.

However, due to the bright dreams of greener pastures shown to our gullible youth, they fall for the trap and instead of acquiring complete education which as a MUST to make them a useful member of the society, they embark on this short cut path which more often than naught leads them to disaster and failure.

Demand and Supply imbalance

On the one hand Pakistan has a dearth of IT professionals. By way of example when we talk about competing with India, India has more than 300,000 IT professionals and currently is producing more than 100,000 Professionals annually. In contrast Pakistan can claim only 15,000 IT professionals with the capacity no where near that. So we NEED IT professionals badly. However, we need QUALITY professionals who can be utilized for producing export quality software and provide international quality services.

On the other hand so much human resource is wasted after being processed from these fake Institutes as the motive behind these institutes is to earn money and not to provide education. The crop of these horrid lands is a waste and nothing else. Many a talented people go a waste. So the damage is not one sided its manifolds. That person who gets admitted loses. His/her family loses. The society and nation loses. The damage is so profound and its repercussion so horrifying. If you really think about it, it's something to really make a person cry.

Low Credibility of Local Universities:

Due to so many institutes the over all credibility of IT institutes has gone down so badly that it's affecting the student's credibility in the local and international market.

Inferiority Complex and discrimination:

Due to low credibility of local degrees many students prefer studying abroad where they spent a huge sum of money for the education which they could have acquired in their homeland at a lower fee. Most of these students study in the U.S. because they did not have access to a quality university education in their home country.

For every one foreign student studying, there are three to five students who would, if they had the resources or the access. So not only precious foreign exchange is wasted, it also leads to frustration among those who can not afford to go abroad for studies. Because of the loss of credibility caused by this mushrooming growth anyone who gets a degree from even a third class institute from abroad is preferred over a person who is much better in everyway but has a local degree. This also leads to inferiority complex among our youth.

Preventions and Remedies:

To prevent a wrong practice the reasons for it must be known and its desired outcome must be known. Since these IT institutes are required to spread the education specially the IT Education among the masses. Thus we must first realize the worth of education for an individual and for a nation.

Value of Education

Education plays as a foundation in the life of an individual and the backbone of any country. Just like one can't expect a building to be strong without a strong foundation similarly without a strong backbone one cannot ensure the success of any country or nation. History of mankind has witnessed the condition of states which have not given importance to education. Education thus is the soul of a nation. Education is the stairway to success and without acquiring it all efforts to achieve success is worthless.

The Value of Education cannot be denied by any means. With the passage of time the world is getting more dynamic and to survive in this era one requires quality education in the utmost manner.

Role of Educational Institutes:

To educate any nation its educational institutes play a very pivotal role. All great nations possess the most legendary, popular and credible Educational Institutes of the world. For Instance we know the names of Harvard (UK), Stanford (USA), Oxford (UK), Cambridge (UK), Burnhall (US); WaterLoo (Canada), California Institute of Technology (USA), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA), Georgia Tech (USA), University of Michigan (USA).

Education is the fuel for a Successful Economy; the great Economic Giants possess the most credible Professional Institutes which produces several successful professionals every year. These professionals with their academic skills enter into the economy and contribute for the well being of their nation.

What can and should be done:

Regularize the institutes:

The Government interference in this respect is very important. Education sector must be subject to proper rules and regulations so as to ensure that proper education being given by genuine institutes. Even though we have University Grant Commission (UGC) to give authorization to educational institutes but even their presence is not effective. The reason is

a) Even those regulations that are there are not enforced properly

b) Back hand and under the table tactics and practices have resulted in many undeserving institutes being awarded University status.

c) There are no follow ups to ensure continued quality of education being provided. Even if there are, many reasons prevent them from being effective .

The value of IT awareness and basic IT literacy can not be over emphasized. And for this purpose short courses are very effective. However, these short courses need also be regularized. We have two bodies in Sindh right now, viz: Sind Board for Technical Education (SBTE) and Skills Development Council (SDC). Although they are doing some work but even they need to be made more effective. As there is too much red tapism and even the course outlines are outdated. In the field of IT this is ridiculous that they are teaching obsolete courses or contents. So these bodies need to be overhauled as well.

Accreditation Body:

There needs to be a body which should evaluate and constantly monitor all the institutes and give them a rating. It can be a simple approved or non approved rating or a rating on a scale of lets say A to E etc. This body can be at the government level or preferably at professional's level. However, this will at least ensure that people don't fall prey to institutes which are not accredited by this body which basically are out there to deprive people of their hard earned money and nothing else. This work is actually in progress under the Sind IT board. We hope that this body is made effective as soon as possible.

E-Commerce for the purpose of Education

Internet Technology provides opportunities for filling unmet education needs, creating the ability to reach more students with more targeted content at a lower cost. It will allow Educational Institutes to provide and students to acquire Education irrespective of Geographical Boundaries.

In the past few years, there has been a dramatic up tick in the number of public and private colleges and universities. These Institutions are seeking ways to. develop education delivery systems that combine the best of traditional classroom instruction with the power of technology.

This is illustrated by the growth in students enrolled in distributed learning and the number of distributed learning courses offered by two and four year institutions.

Career Counseling and Awareness:

We must also bring about awareness and do counseling to ensure that prospective students of the IT field not only know which particular course(s) to select but also should have a general idea of what to look for in an institute before getting admission. This will serve as a filter in which many of our youth can be prevented from falling pray to the so called institutes.

Social Responsibility to be shouldered:

It is not fair to put all the blame on the Institute owners or management. Sometimes, even though they want to provide quality contents, they don't get guidance from anywhere. Hence, all the IT houses and IT professionals should take up as a social obligation to provide consultancy or supervision to institutes to enable them to organize their courses and system as per the required standards.

Benefits Gained from Mushroom Growth(?):

Although the phenomena in itself is inherently negative and a recipe for disaster, however, we have derived a benefit from it in the form of side-effect. This is bringing IT awareness among the masses. The definition of Literacy has changed and anyone who doesn't have the basic IT knowledge will NOT be considered literate even if he has multiple degrees or doctorates. And this goal of making everybody IT literate is being aided by the IT institutes everywhere. The point is not that this goal can not be achieved or could not have been achieved without this Mushroom growth. But as we stand today this is something that has been derived from this definitely negative phenomena.

Conclusion:

Mushroom growth has done a lot of damage. This is a foregone conclusion. Many of the damages done are irreversible and this is something that hurts very badly. However, what needs to be done is that to prevent it from doing more damage. Take this up on a war footing, because we are looking at disaster of catastrophic proportions. Destroying a person's career and future is no game. But when not only is the career at stake but his whole family is at stake things become worse. However, this doesn't end there. With each person being subjected to these so called institutes and being literally destroyed, our country and nation loses a valuable human resource. This HAS to be stopped and the sooner the better.