Only education can bring change in society: VC FJWU
Islamabad: Fatima Jinnah Women University has now completed its eleven years. In a short span of time the university has grown exceptionally and has earned a reputation for excellence in teaching and research nationally and internationally.
Prof. Dr. Saeeda Asadullah Khan was appointed as Vice Chancellor of the university in March 2007 and since then she’s striving hard for the promotion of quality education in the university as well as emphasizing on the tradition and values of our society.
For our proud profile column we got a chance to speak to her candidly about her personal achievements, aspirations and desires for the promotion of education in the country. She answered each of my questions comfortably and with great poise.
When asked how is Fatima Jinnah Women University different from other universities, she replied that they are not only giving degrees to the students instead the university besides education is equipping them to become a productive and useful member of the society. “In our annual art and craft mela which is held annually in the university premises, we encourage the students to display their products so that if they venture out with their product in the market they have the experience of entrepreneurship, boutiques etc. We also teach entrepreneurship in Business Administration Department. Besides this, the students have to show voluntary work of 20 credit hours in any field before acquiring a degree. It could be any voluntary work in the field of health or education or any community work like educating working class ladies, or community help like water problem or sanitation. As an institution, FJWU has contributed immensely in nation building and development by providing trained professional women as an important human resource for all fields in various capacities. FJWU graduates have been successfully working in all sectors and are providing support and leadership to their families and communities. Our students should understand that, this higher education that they are pursuing through public university and availing state-of-the-art facility is at highly subsidized rates through public tax payer’s money, they have to pay back through their community ownership and voluntary work for the society. Moreover community work and internship are compulsory degree requirement,” she said.
She said that we have a strength of 5,000 females who study now in the university and being the women university it is at par with other co-educational system. It has male faculty staff as well as visiting faculty staff who teaches at all levels. We compete with other coeducation or male universities with same strength. The university has its own day care facilities not only for the faculty but also for the students who are married and have kids. Education and health of the people are of critical importance in our country and cut in educational budget is very demoralizing for the universities, faculty and students. “It is a big setback because it is only education that the steer us to progress. We have the highest number of youth from 14 to 25 years of age whose basic requirement is education. She suggested that education budget should be sustained, instead of cutting it otherwise whatever that had been done earlier in this sector would be wasted. Our hostel facilities and our new campus on Chakri Road is drastically suffering because of the budget slash. Currently we are in dire need of two overhead bridges on the main university road as six of our students have met major accidents while crossing the road,” she said.
While talking about the international collaboration with the university she said that FJWU has been successful in attracting foreign qualified faculty with extensive training and experience from different countries who make use of latest pedagogical techniques for teaching the courses offered at the university. “The university has an extensive information resource in print and electronic media with a library that has a collection of more than 35,000 printed books. The university also provides access to over 45,000 e-books and 23,000 international e-journals through HEC digital library. It has state of art computer labs and laboratories. The students of the Mass Communication started off with half an hour FM radio station Voice of Women four years back. Now the air time has gone to three hours and the range is now 26 kilometers. The radio station broadcasts educational, entertainment and informative programs that provides practical knowledge to the students. After acquiring the Mass Com degrees students are hired immediately by commercial FM channels as they have the on-hand experience of radio broadcasting. Six universities are members of Educational Broadcasting Forum and FJWU is also one of them. Dr. Saeeda Asadullah is multi linguistic and has proficiency over six languages which are English, Urdu, Sindhi, Arabic, French and Turkish. “When you learn different languages you are open to knowledge thus creating an enabling environment for the faculty as well as the students. For a vice chancellor it is important to create knowledge and produce think tanks. We need to focus on research now. As a member of Modern Language Association she revealed that a debate is going on in the west nowadays that we need to ‘publish or perish’ but still we should realize that what we are publishing and who is reading our journals. We cannot bring about a change by criticising, instead we should be more constructive. We should become a role model for our students as we are constantly giving them silent messages,” she said.
Talking on gender equality she said that I don’t have to be apologetic just because I am a woman. “Islam gives me equal rights as men. In Pakistan at least we have our own voice. Like in West it took quite some time to recognize the value of women as they still indulge in domestic violence and gender disparity. I am an optimist and believe in my youth. We have a commitment to create knowledge and failure is not a failure if we learn from it,” she said.
The Vice Chancellor though lives with her mother, a fully devoted daughter still finds out time for unwind. She is a member of various organizations and finds time to attend their functions. She loves to eat at home and has a strong penchant for vegetables with broccoli being her favourite vegetable. Chicken roast and fish are occasional treat for her.