11 ways Pakistani universities should transform to adopt the startup culture.

We all love to hate Pakistani educational sector. Our institutes have been teaching us outdated orthodox curriculum for decades, and will probably continue for the next 20 years as well. Whatever suggestions I am going to write here are not going to make a difference on the mindset of some very old people in authoritative positions. But heck, who cares? Freedom of speech is tax-free (yet), and I like to rant.

Update the curriculum

Our faculty has been teaching us obsolete topics in an obsolete way. Stuff that was relevant 5 years ago, is no longer relevant, or even mainstream. We all know that our field of technology changes overnight, and we can either adapt it, or dissolve into eternal abyss.

Appoint young executives in administration

It’s practically impossible to convince 60 year old people that whatever conservative ideas about education they have, are making factories, not startups.

Discard mandatory attendance

I’ve never heard anything more ridiculous than universities expecting students to achieve 80% attendance, while they are working on startups, jobs, or as freelancers or interns.

(Well, except for the Church of Flying Spaghetti Monster, that’s way more ludicrous.)

Remove the red tape

Most of the admin processes in a university are so tightly coupled to rules and regulations, that a simple 1 hour task takes weeks to get approved and then worked on. Removing all that red tape will get stuff done ASAP.

Plus, a simple student can’t really approach a rector, or even a director. Everything has to follow a proper channel, or else - it’s not difficult to imagine the consequences…

Give up reliance on standardized testing

I personally do not believe that all the creativity, innovation, hard work, grit, attitude and acumen, can be defined in a single number - GPA (or %age).

Forcing students to conform to a standard only kills their creative spirit. Take example of Finland: free education, stipends for students, no standardized tests, teachers being paid like doctors - and its producing extraordinary results.

Scholarships beyond GPA

Encouraging people for their mainstream conformation, not just creates robots, but also discourages the inner artist hidden inside the young students. I want to dream of a day when colleges provide free tuition to students who go beyond - like for creating some innovative app, making a useful simulation, publishing a paper, volunteering for an organization, etc… But I guess that won’t work for institutions that operate like businesses.

Hire faculty based on their teaching skills

It’s a good idea to get renowned Ph.D folk onboard. But a better idea would be to hire lecturers who can explain extraordinarily complicated concepts in simple words.

Let go of some faculty members

Going against faculty members is unarguably the most difficult thing to do in (most) Pakistani universities. Teachers evaluations are just a formality, for getting a good HEC ranking; they are absolutely useless in practical life.

Pay the faculty

Some of the well-known universities in Pakistan are not rewarding their faculties enough. As a result, lecturers quickly lose their motivation, well-qualified teachers leave for a corporate world, and classrooms turn into zombie market places.

Get real!

Pakistani institutions are doing an incredibly great job of glorifying the not-so-awesome history of Pakistani/Muslim people. Whenever someone talks about the current crisis, a random guy stands up and starts explaining the ‘800 year old Muslim rule in sub-continent’. And to be honest, it doesn’t matter! What matters is how we learn from the past, act in the present, and plan for the future. Universities should immediately cease teaching sugar-coated history, and bombard students with the cold hard truth of how the world actually works, and what wrong have we been doing for centuries (not to the extent of pessimism, ofcourse).

But does that really matter?

Take example of Nokia, they were doing an amazing work of following their decades old corporate mindset, and eventually they got wiped out and replaced by some cool guys. The fast fish takes the bigger fish.

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