Ineligibility of BS Software Engineering Graduates for the Position of Computer Science Educator

Recently, the School Education Department, Government Punjab has announced various positions of Senior Elementary School Educator in Computer Science & Secondary School Educator in Computer Science. Unfortunately, Software Engineering graduates are declared ineligible for these jobs due to the word “Engineering” which appears in the title of their degree. It has created a depressing and heart breaking situation for these graduates. In this regard, I would like to submit following humble submissions for kind consideration of concerned authorities.

Computing is an interdisciplinary discipline that crosses the boundaries between mathematics, science, engineering, business, and social sciences. Before 1990’s, computing was limited to three disciplines – Computer Science (CS), Computer Engineering (CE), and Information Systems (ISs). By 1990s, the global community realized that the field of computing had grown in many dimensions and the discipline of Software Engineering was added in the computing domain. By the end of 1990s, once again, the academia realized that the existing computing degree programs were not producing graduates who had the right mix of knowledge and skills to meet organizational challenges. Consequently, the discipline of Information Technology (IT) was introduced.

Presently, almost every public and private sector university offer various degree programs in computing disciplines. Two National Accreditation Councils evaluate, scrutinize and monitor the standards of education in these institutions. Pakistan Engineering Council monitors Computer Engineering discipline, whereas National Computing Education Accreditation Council (NCEAC) looks after matters regarding, Computer Science, Software Engineering, and Information Technology.

It is important to point out that the term “Engineering” present in the title of “Software Engineering” degree does not make it an engineering degree.  According to ACM and IEEE-CS, the most prestigious international bodies, Software Engineering is a computing discipline.  At international universities, Software Engineering degree is offered by their computing departments.  Due to these reasons, Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) does not deal with SE programs. PEC develops curriculum for Computer Engineering programs.

It would not be out of place to mention that HEC has constituted the National Curriculum Revision Committees of CS, IT and SE.  These committees jointly publish the curricula of BS/MS/Ph.D. programs in CS, SE, and IT. Through an extensive consultation, these committees have identified some areas of unification among curricula of CS, SE and IT and have defined a common nomenclature for BS programs based on two criteria: i) Common courses in all disciplines. ii) Domain specific courses in respective discipline.

Body of Knowledge (contents) covered in these common courses aims to build essential knowledge, skills, and background that can help students to study advance courses and to join a variety of professions that have employment opportunities for computing graduates.  Whereas, Domain specific courses provide a more in-depth knowledge of the domain and develop advanced skills required to perform specialized task.

A comparison of general recommendations made by NCRC in Revised Curriculum 2009 regarding BS programs of CS, SE, and IT is listed in table below:

Category of Courses Name of Program
CS SE IT
Credit Hours Credit Hours Credit Hours
Common  Computing Courses
Core 43 70 43 70 43 70
Supporting Areas 12 15 15
General Education 15 12 12
University Electives 12 12 12
Doman Specific Courses
 Core 18 18 18
 Electives 21 21 21
 Supporting Areas Electives 9 9 9
Total Credit Hours 130 130 130

 

The table shows that out of 130 Credit hours, almost 82 Credit Hours Courses fall in the category of common courses. In particular, the common computing core courses of 43 credit hours mainly focus on developing students’ knowledge and skills which are required for Senior Elementary School Educator in Computer Science, Secondary School Educator in Computer Science and Computer Science Lecturers in Colleges.

In the light of above stated facts, it is requested that, similar to BSCS and BSIT graduates, BSSE graduates should also be consider eligible for computer related  jobs, including Senior Elementary School Educator in Computer Science, Secondary School Educator in Computer Science, College Lecturers, Computer lab staff, Web Masters, etc . It is also requested, in their job advertisements, the Government of Punjab announce BSCS, BSIT, and BSSE graduates equally eligible for the advertise position.

At the end I would make a humble suggestion that Software Engineering graduates must not be declared ineligible for the positions of Senior Elementary School Educator in Computer Science & Secondary School Educator in Computer Science. I am sure the kind consideration of concerned authorities will save the future of a large number of Software Engineering graduates in Punjab, Pakistan.

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Preparing Students for the Knowledge Economy

Knowledge Economy is the latest term inspiring the every nooks and corner of human Pasha  Picsociety. Although, there is no consensus on the definition of this term, it is usually referred to an economy that focuses on the production and management of knowledge in the frame of economic activities through the use of knowledge technologies. The key resource in Knowledge Economy is knowledge which is the driver of productivity and economic growth (Kogut & Zander, 1992; Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995; Choo & Bontis, 2002; Zítek &  Klímová, 2011). Yet, success depends on the effective use and exploitation of all types of available knowledge in all manner of economic activity. (DTI, 1998).

The Knowledge Economy is different from the traditional economy in several aspects. One of the key aspects is that it considers that the application of knowledge adds more value than the traditional economic factors like capital, raw materials and labour.  It is the phenomena which is transforming conventional time and space bounded business world into a boundary less 24/7 business arena offering economic opportunities for those who have the capacity to use available knowledge in innovative ways.  As a result, the business world has become deeply innovative and global in nature (Chichilnisky, 1998).

Houghton & Sheehan (2000) have identified the three defining forces behind knowledge economy: (i)  the rise in knowledge use in economic activities, (ii) the increasing globalization of economic affairs, (iii) the high pace of technological advancements particularly information & communications technologies.  Whereas, Dahlman & Andersson (2000) have identified four key pillars of Knowledge Economy:

–    An educated and skilled labor force that continuously upgrades and adapts skills to efficiently create and use knowledge;

–    An effective innovation system of firms, research centers, universities, consultants, and other organizations that keeps up with the knowledge revolution, taps into the growing stock of global knowledge, and assimilates and adapts new knowledge to local needs,

–    An economic incentive and institutional regime that provides good economic policies and institutions, which promote efficient creation, dissemination, and use of existing knowledge.

–    A modern and adequate information infrastructure that facilitates the effective communication, dissemination, and processing of information and knowledge.

The knowledge economy has given a new dimension to the business world. Production is being rationalized globally, with organizations combining the factors, features and skills of various locations in the process of competing in the global market. Most of the organizations with a dominant position no longer belong to just one leading country. They are multinational and transnational. To compete with their rivals successfully organizations must now compete head-to-head in all markets. In this new global competition, competitiveness  depends increasingly on the coordination of, and synergy  generated between a broad range of specialized industrial, financial, technological, commercial, administrative and cultural skills which can be located anywhere around the world.  These challenges compel organizations to become learning organizations; continuously adapting management, organization and skills to accommodate new technologies to grasp new opportunities. Also they need to promote inter-organization and intar-organization linkage to strengthen their system of innovation (Houghton  & Sheehan,  2000; Powell  & Snellman, 2004; Cooke & Piccaluga, 2006).

Information and Communication technologies (ICT) serve as the technical backbone to the knowledge economy (Henderson, 2000). Yet, Knowledge economy primarily reliance on intellectual capabilities and knowledge-intensive activities which can be offered either as a product or a service (Powell & Snellman).  A higher level of knowledge and skills which cultivate creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship are much demanded from individuals and organizations to survive in knowledge economies.

While there is growing agreement on the importance of skills per se as a key engine for economic growth, there is far less agreement on which competencies and skills make the difference.  Some of the most agreed upon workplace competencies reported by Houghton & Sheehan (2000) are: Inter-personal skills, team work and the ability to collaborate in pursuit of a common objective, leadership capabilities, intra-personal skills, motivation and attitude, the ability to learn, problem-solving skills, effective communication with colleagues and clients, Analytical skills,  ICT skills.

Trent Batson, the Executive Director of The Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence-Based Learning has listed following 12 important skills required in today’s knowledge economy:.

  1. Being an innovator in      thought and action
  2. Thinking      like an entrepreneur
  3. Communicating      in writing in all mediums and forms with varying groups of people and a      wide range of purposes
  4. Communicating      via speaking in all the mediums available to us today: telephones, Skype, conferencing      systems, and even in face-to-face meetings or conferences or hallway      conversations
  5. Finding      the right Web 2.0 tools to enable or improve a particular business need,      understand the business model of the provider of the tools, and assess the      cost and benefits including maintaining the Web site associated with the      tools over time
  6. Working      cooperatively across distances in ways that benefit all
  7. Identifying      a core service, staying with it, and resisting the abundance of      opportunities and side paths in this highly fluid knowledge economy
  8. On the      other hand, maintaining a reflective and integrative approach to new      trends, new ideas, and new opportunities from anywhere in the world–what      fits and what doesn’t fit with the core service?
  9. Being      able to research quickly and find what is useful within minutes, not hours      or days. Knowing enough about many disciplines so you can settle on search      terms to find the rights kinds of knowledge for your purpose
  10. Staying      nimble and ready to re-think all that you do
  11. Staying      attuned to our culture
  12. Being      as literate in Web 2.0 as in reading books

Formal education, lifelong learning and fundamental research are central to economic progress in the new economy. At the same time, growth in the knowledge economy is founded on discovery and innovation, in which the research carried out in educational institutions, has a central role. As a result, educational institutions are considered as the key driver of knowledge economy.  This role demands a paradigm shift in the mindset of educationists, students, policy makers, and other stakeholders   to equip students with appropriate knowledge and skills of knowledge economy.  On the contrary, too often students walk out of educational institutions without having clear understanding of the knowledge economy’s challenges.  Many of them are confused with the terms like “Global economy”, “flat world”, “knowledge economy”, and “21st Century Skills”, ‘information society’ (Giddens, 1994), the ‘learning society’ (Commission of the European Communities, 1996), the ‘network society’ (Castells, 1998), the ‘learning economy’ (Field, 2000; Lundvall & Borás, 1997), and ‘economies of expertise’ (Venkatraman and Subramaniam, 2002), etc. Consequently, they often fail to meet the challenges of the employment market. It is an undeniable responsibility of educational institutions to eradicate students’ intellectual ambiguities about these terms and prepare them to face the challenges of knowledge economy.

The knowledge economy generates a strong demand for university graduates because of the very nature of scholarly activity in a university.  According a latest report, by 2018, the economy will create 46.8 million new jobs. Nearly two-thirds of these will require workers with at least some college education, with a slight majority requiring workers with a Bachelor’s degree or better. Therefore, students have to be trained to work in today’s technology driven, knowledge intensive, complex work place. It will require to motivate students to learn multiple skills related to science, math, technology, and engineering. Mastery in communication, soft skill, standardized professional practices, and social engineering are some other areas which ensure students’ success in the knowledge economy.  At the same time, students must be trained to quickly acquiring globally available knowledge.

As a matter of fact, whether prepared or not, no nation can afford to ‘delink’ from global information connectivity and the knowledge economy. Countries like Pakistan have to take serious measures to convert conventional educational institutions into as the key driver of knowledge economy.   It may require multi-dimensional measures including changing mindset of policy makers and other stake holders, restructuring of the national ICT infrastructure, and most importantly inspiring students to learn multiple skills required in the knowledge economy.

Inspiration usually comes from seeing people working in professional world. Generally, students see their teachers as their role models. Therefore, it is equally important that teachers should be equipped with the knowledge and skills which are required to understand the challenges and opportunities of knowledge economy. On the contrary, there are serious concerns about the capacity of teachers. Academic institutions have to prepare teacher training programs to upgrade teachers’ knowledge and skills related to the knowledge economy. These training must focus on: (i) increasing educational opportunities to learn appropriate skills for knowledge economy; (ii) changing the mindset of teachers towards technologically based global entrepreneurial competition; and (ii) to upgrade the core KE skills base of teachers to improve their pedagogical skills.

Aftermaths of HEC Devolution

Many students ask about the aftermaths of HEC devolution. Much debate is underway on this issue, please watch any talk show. Scholars like DR. Atta, Dr. Lagri and many others are trying to convince this nation about HEC current position. In contrast, less knowledgeable people with a doubtful career are trying to prove that they are more intelligent. As HEC is ineffective now-a-days so the incompetent and corrupt mafia has started exploiting the situation. The situation of UE is a living example about the aftermaths of HEC devolution. From the last four months UE is functioning without any vice chancellor. Now-a-days, there is no vice chancellor, no registrar, no controller, no treasurer. Corrupt mafia is taking the full advantage of this situation through making Illegal appointments, purchases, transfers, etc., Ph. D. degrees are distributed like anything. Both offices, Secretary of Higher Education and Governor House, are supporting them. Even in the presence of documentary proof no action is being taken. Who is suffering? You know better than me. The idea of devolution was perceived in 1973 but we are living in 2010 which is altogether a different world with totally different challenges and opportunities. I wish people could understand this simple point. But someone right said “if wishes were horses beggars would ride?”.

Due to HEC efforts Pakistan was making a little progress in higher education. Some people do not appreciate this! Let’s prey for a miracle but my recent experience has created many doubts. Just you imaging a Ph.D. student of the same University who was even not eligible for associate professorship were appointed as a care taker vice chancellor. Not only this, she is facing charges of financial embezzlement of more than Rs. 200 millions. What happened then? You students are facing the consequences; is there anybody who listen you. Just one person sitting on a key position in the Department of Higher Education is making the whole government fool just for his Ph.D .  As our politicians are incompetent, so in future every province will see such practices as a routine matter.   This is just a start of HEC devolution…………… What do you thing about the quality of your education and recognition of your degrees at international level?

Some people makea point that Dr. Lagari and his group is doing all this just to save their jobs. I personally know the professional competency of Dr. Lagari and his team.  It is a blessing for HEC and Pakistan, if they are working here. Much better opportunities are waiting around the globe for them; as is the case with me.

No to HEC Devolution

Under 18th amendment Higher Education Commission (HEC) is being devolved to the provinces. HEC is the primary autonomous regulatory body of higher education in Pakistan and its main purpose is to help universities improve their quality of education, research and development. We strongly condemn the transfer of the functions of the HEC to the provinces because it will create devastating consequences on the future of higher education in Pakistan.  We submit a humble request to the concern authorities of the Government of Pakistan to maintain the current status of HEC for a better future of our next generations.

Please sign this online petition and pass the address of following website to as many people as you can. This is a national cause we have to act now otherwise our future generations will curse upon us.

http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/hecdevolution

HEC: The only Hope of a Bright Future

Recently, under 18th amendment Higher Education Commission (HEC) is being devolved to the provinces. I must appreciate government’s approach of strengthening provincial governments which will certainly bring multifold benefits. But the matter of HEC is totally different.  Many people have shown their concerns regarding the verification of degrees, distribution of foreign grants and government funding. Although these aspects are importent but the issue of HEC is more than that. To me, the role of HEC towards the prosperity and compatibility of Pakistan is more crucial than any other institution. Particularly, in today’s Knowledge Revolution, this role has become more decisive. Pakistan needs a centralized body responsible of devising & executing national educational strategies so that knowledge workers of international standards could be produced. The production of such knowledge workers will be the guarantee of Pakistan’s prosperity in forthcoming knowledge economies.  

Since its inception, HEC has been playing very pivotal role towards the promotion of educational standards.  Promotion of research culture, introduction of educational standards for quality assurance, foreign scholarships for human resource development, making higher education more accessible through opening new educational institutions are some of HEC initiatives which have revolutionized Pakistani higher education.  Few people may have their apprehension about the role of HEC, but Rome never built in one day.  The whole credit goes to Dr. Lagari, Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman, Dr. Sohail Naqvee and their dedicated & competent team who worked day-n-night for the promotion of higher education and research in Pakistan. I pay my special tributes from the core of my heart to these three dignitaries whose visionary approach and competency brought higher education up to this level.

Now-a-days, Pakistan is facing the most crucial challenge of it survival. It is globally accepted that quality education, stat-of-the-art technology and cheap energy are the most important pillars of today’s knowledge economy.  Pakistan has already failed to grasp the benefits of Information Revolution. Today’s political instability & cultural alienation that is fostering political, ethnic, ideological, and religious extremism is the result of this failure. The challenges of 21st century’s knowledge revolution demands Pakistan to make its human resource base as one of its core competency. For this we need to give right education to our youth and place them in intellectually challenging environments so that they can excel themselves in all areas of today’s knowledge Economy. From the day first, HEC is working in this direction and producing encouraging results which have brought a positive change in Pakistan. Therefore, the existing role of HEC is very crucial for Pakistan.

I have no doubt regarding the positive efforts of the current government towards the progress of Pakistan. Politicians are just like us and they are trying their level best to make Pakistan prosperous. Unfortunately, they cannot foresee the challenges of 21st century’s knowledge revolution as this is not their area of expertise.  They need to realize that the country is already facing a sever scarcity of visionary & competent educationist.  The very few available are working at HEC day and night. They are not only devising strategies to raise the standards of higher education but also promoting research activities in universities all over Pakistan.  Due to their untiring efforts Pakistan has started gaining its credibility among the international academic community. Devolving HEC to the provinces will essentially sabotage the whole process. Dr. Qadeer Khan rightly said that the destruction of HEC through its fragmentation will have devastating consequences for Pakistan. I wish the government could realize the importance of HEC and maintain its current status which is not only crucial but very essential for Pakistan. I am sure there are many people in this country who can convince President or Prime Minister that the issue of HEC is not only related to degree verification or distribution of foreign grants and government funding rather it is more important for the future of this nation.  I am sure; their timely effort could save this country from a disaster.