Asghar Mall College decries ignorance, lack of facilities despite century’s educational history

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By Ali Jabber

ISLAMABAD, Oct 28 (APP): Woe betide … That in a country parched for knowledge and enlightenment, a country where educational institutions are so few and even fewer are sating the appetites of all those day scholars who thirst for academic excellence with quality education. I refer to none other than Government Post Graduate College Asghar Mall Rawalpindi. It is an institution that has mothered, fostered and nursed thousands and thousands of students who have gone on to achieve not only individual greatness in their chosen disciplines but have earned laurels for their country:
scholars, civil servants, soldiers, diplomats and sportsmen all honed their skills in this alma mater before proving their mettle to the world.
It all started in 1913 with the Sanatan Dharma (meaning seven religions) High School. Maybe the founding fathers wanted to send a message signifying inter-faith harmony despite the fact that this seemed highly improbable, nevertheless an attempt was made.
The college has a rich history. The current building in 1948, realizing the academic needs and the demands of the people of this region Sanatan Dharma was upgraded to the level of a college and named Government Post Graduate College Asghar Mall Rawalpindi. It was, hence, the first government-run college in the Rawalpindi division. At present, the college is offering five master programs in the disciplines of English, Urdu, Mathematics, Geography and Economics.
The Geography department has performed splendidly over the decades as it scored more than twenty gold medals in Punjab University examinations by scoring first positions. However, it also continued the journey of retaining the top positions by achieving numerous second, third and fourth positions. The department has unique significance as the program exists in the Punjab University and Asghar Mall College only. But astonishingly no government paid attention to upgrade the faculty and provide state of the art facilities. The story with the Mathematics, Economics and the Urdu Departments are not much different. And then The Department of English …Ah Yes! Where knowledge has always been nurtured with religious, almost ecstatic fervor, where talent is located, polished and sent out to the world to benefit. Great men have taught great students who have gone on to do great things.
Talking to APP, the college principal Prof Rana Muhammad Hafiz Khan said the college has 114 years marvellous history and 70 years comprising intellectual identity. The academic programs from the Intermediate to the Master’s level are running smoothly under the competent supervision of highly proficient, professional, qualified and most experienced teachers. The positions achieved by the students at provincial, divisional and district level in many co curricular events have added another feather to the very illustrious College cap. Prof. Hafeez seriously lamented over the shortage of facilities that are now beginning to take their toll on the academic ambience of the College. This also includes a serious shortage of the teaching staff. A case in example is The Department of Economics. This subject is being offered to students at all tiers: Intermediate, Graduation and Master’s as well. At present the Economics Department comprises 04 … Yes only four teachers and two are due to proceed on superannuation next year. The other Departments are similarly suffering. Almost 35 members of the teaching staff from his College were shifted to other Colleges in the name of Rationalization. I fail to understand the logic of short staffing one institution to run another instead of appointing new hands to reduce the burden of the existing ones. This is a perfect example of the havoc wreaked when the “Rationalisers” decide to become irrational.
Very similar is the plight of the Computer Science students. Roughly, 700 students are studying this subject and the numerical strength of the Computer Science Department is a rollicking One Teacher.
Prof. Hafeez, continuing the tale of woe, said, that some seriously indispensable facilities are lacking in the College. Albeit that the Principal is trying to make good on what he has by way of a vision, the shortage of funds curtail him from translating his visions into a reality. The College Library, home to more than 50,000 books is in shambles. There are some of the most rare books accumulated from various sources and libraries like the historic library of Gurdwara Rai Bahadur Sardar Soojan Singh in Bagh Sardaran one of the oldest religious heritage building left in the garrison city after partition. He regretted that all these books were lying in limbo in the 170 cupboards of a place called The College Library. There were two libraries existing in the college one in the post graduate block and the other in Jinnah block, he added that both libraries are being run by the clerks and lower grade staff of the college since the college librarian has retired and since then no qualified librarian has been sent to replace him.
There are numerous other issues pertaining to water and electricity supply which demanded efficient redressal, he said.
He urged the authorities to take notice of the college’s dilapidated condition as 26 kanals land of the college was also encroached which should be recouped.