The model followed in Pakistan in the design of curricula is basically based on rearrangements of popular course names that correspond to some established (typically foreign) text books. A typical university in Pakistan designs a program by copying and pasting course names from some of the foreign universities and prominent local universities, making a semester-wise list of courses and throwing a few electives for each specialization. In the end the course descriptions end up being summaries of table of contents of selected text books. The final program mainly represents a rehash of the personal experiences of the academics of that university. Some of the universities may also invite a couple of people from industry or other universities to tweak this program in a forum pompously named as Board of Studies, which mainly involves playing with the names of the courses and their rearrangement. When HEC (or PEC) invites a curriculum meeting, it ends up rounding up the usual suspects (using the famous quote from Casablanca) i.e. university professors linked to the discipline. Industry executives and societal representatives are seldom invited/present in such deliberations. Major issues in such meetings revolve around courses, credit hours and the prerequisites. There is neither time nor the energy to go down to the contents of any of the courses.
This curriculum design has led to a state where our curriculum is sadly out of sync with the aspirations of our society and industry requirements. It is no wonder that the first thing on the minds of our graduates is ONLY to work for multinationals or leave Pakistan, ASAP. To appreciate the disconnect, consider this fact that none of the HEC prescribed courses for business curriculum is delivered in the language spoken in over 98% of business environments in Pakistan for interacting with customers and employees. Remember over 90% of Pakistani businesses are micro, small or medium sized.
from the model whose basic building block is a course to a bottom up model in
which the building blocks are the “knowledge” units and the
“skill” units. This model is followed in other disciplines such
as the ACM for the design of the CS curriculum and we need to study the process of how they develop the curriculum which often takes about a decade for each major revision. This often involves extensive surveys, participations, conferences and meetings of hundreds and thousands of public and private stakeholders, industry organizations, user organizations, professionals, designers, futurists, academics, and businesses, and which has resulted in the famous drafts known as the Strawman, Ironman and Steelman Drafts of the curriculum recommendations over the last several decades.
Following the same vein, the process of business curriculum design in Pakistan should be owned by one or more of the professional associations such as the
Management Association or Marketing Association or HR Association or other
business associations. This needs to be an ongoing process where researchers
extensively survey the industry professionals, practitioners, executives and
academics who are member of these professional associations and regularly
present the industry requirements in conferences, seminars and workshops. Based on such surveys,
researchers should build area-wise taxonomies of knowledge and skill units and
organize them according to their relationships. These should then be classified in
terms of core and non-core, time duration, categories, types and other
parameters. Typically this taxonomy would have thousands of knowledge and
skills units identified by the industry executives. The researchers depending
upon their interests then form interesting groupings of these concepts and
skill units which are then labeled and quantified in credit hours and given
course names. This bottom up process of course design starting ab-initio from
input from the industry is our critical need.
|Taxonomy of Concepts and Skills: A Representation
C’s are the knowledge concepts, S represent the skills
never followed this process of curriculum development which has led to our
curricula being greatly out of sync with the requirements of the industry. This
is the reason why industry thinks that bookish knowledge is not relevant to its
real-life concerns. The student on graduation feels that he is a fish out of
water and the only thing he/she wants is to immigrate to the Western world for
which he has been prepared using the text books that were developed to address
their problems. Unless our curricula design trains our students to grapple with
the problems of Pakistan, our graduates would keep on running away from the
challenges of Pakistan and immigrating to other countries!
- The disconnect with real problems of the society is further detailed in my post “Curriculum’s Relevance to Social Impact: Why do our graduates want to leave the country“. One way of connecting it with a course based intervention is described in my post “How to Create Impact on Society: A Case Study of Experiential Learning Intervention in a Course on Social Advocacy“