VMC critical of vet university in Bahawalpur

LAHORE:THE Punjab government’s decision to establish a veterinary university in Bahawalpur has invited strong criticism from the Pakistan Veterinary Medical Council (PVMC).

The PVMC, expressing concerns over lack of qualified faculty, deteriorating standard of veterinary and animal husbandry education and shortage of practical facilities in existing institutions, has questioned the establishment of a new university.

The council has also expressed resentment against the government for not taking it on board in the whole process on the plea that it had the mandate to establish and regulate uniform standards of veterinary and animal husbandry education and practice.

Talking to The News on Monday, Dr Alamdar Hussain Malik, secretary/registrar PVMC, said the University College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences at the Islamia University Bahawalpur (IUB) had already been established in 2006 and the college was still short of qualified faculty, practical and proper accommodation facilities.

’It is strange that a veterinary college has already been established at the IUB while a full-fledged veterinary university is being established in Bahawalpur,’ he said and added that in 2006, four veterinary institutions were established in Punjab without having the minimum basic mandatory requirements for such institutions.

Dr Malik said that presently 10 institutions in the public sector and one in private sector were offering five-year DVM degree programmes in the country.

‘Out of these institutions, the Veterinary College IUB, Veterinary Faculty Bahauddin Zakariya University (BZU), Multan, College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Jhang, and Veterinary Faculty Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi, are yet to get their accreditation and recognition of their institutions and degree programmes from the PVMC,’ he said.

Dr Malik further said the Gomal College of Veterinary Science, DI Khan, and the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, Uthal University, Balochistan, which got the provisional accreditation and recognition had not fulfilled the minimum required criteria yet which might force the PVMC to review its earlier decision.

‘What to talk about the newly-established vet institutions, the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore, an institution which has completed its 125 years, has yet to complete its faculty in some very important subjects, i.e. anatomy, veterinary public health, epidemiology and pathology,’ he maintained.

‘The veterinary sciences, is not an easy business like the upgrade of a middle school to a secondary level,’ the secretary/registrar PVMC said and added: ‘Veterinary medical science is the only which have the comparative anatomy and medicine and also it is much diversified profession than the human medical profession.’

He said for the sake of arguments, when the veterinary university at Bahawalpur would be established and recruitment for the faculty would be advertised, all trained faculty in the newly established institutions would prefer to join the university.

‘Then what will be the fate of the present veterinary institutions?’ he questioned.

To support his argument, Dr Malik said when in 2002, the College of Veterinary Science, Lahore, was upgraded to the university status, the qualified professionals from all over the country joined the university and the institutions which they left had yet to fill that positions.

Dr Malik further quoted an example regarding the glaring situation of brain-drain of the qualified veterinarians, saying when the UVAS advertised the post of Professor of Epidemiology there was only one applicant and the same was the case in most of the subjects.

‘When everybody, especially the political leaders in the country, believe in the supremacy of the Parliament, the mandate of the PVMC as a regulatory body, which is entrusted powers, through the Act of the Parliament, may also be given proper respect and the PVMC participation while making the decisions regarding the veterinary/animal husbandry education and practice,’ he said and added that there was no doubt that the Punjab chief minister was fully committed to strengthening the veterinary education and livestock sector to counter the poverty and unemployment in the province but without taking the PVMC on board ‘I am afraid this effort may not produce the desired results,’ he said.

Sources in the Punjab Livestock and Dairy Development Department said that DG Extension Dr Muhammad Irfan Zahid had recently written to the departmentís secretary about the plight of vet institutions of the province. They said the DG expressed displeasure over the standard of education in these institutes besides exposing the lack of facilities there.

About the standard of education, the DG had expressed strong concerns while saying some graduates had given ëridiculousí answers to simple questions in tests for different posts in the Livestock and Dairy Development Department and attached bodies, the sources said.

They further said the idea regarding establishment of a full fledged veterinary university in Bahawalpur was basically the brainchild of Punjab Chief Secretary Javed Mahmood. They added that all the problems faced by the vet institutes in Punjab were ironically ignored when the high-ups were ëponderingí how to turn the CSís dream into reality.

When contacted, Deputy Secretary (Technical) of the Livestock and Dairy Development Department Dr Iftikhar said the establishment of a university was a policy matter and the PVMC had no role in this regard.

‘Its role comes only for accreditation of degrees and programmes offered at vet institutes,’ he added.

To a question about the lack of facilities and shortage of qualified faculty at existing vet institutes, Dr Iftikhar said it was the responsibility of the Chancellorís Office to look after such issues.

‘We are dealing only with policy matters,’ he said and added that shortage of qualified faculty was there but we needed future veterinarians for commercial farming, leather industry and other such growing industries. He also confirmed that the establishment of a vet university in Bahawalpur was the idea of the chief secretary and added that a presentation was later given to the chief minister who okayed it.

To a question, Dr Iftikhar said that land had been identified for the said project which had also been approved by the Board of Revenue. He said the new university would be linked with the top vet institutes of the world.

DG Extension Dr Muhammad Irfan Zahid, when contacted, confirmed that he had recently written about deteriorating standard of vet institutions of the province. He said after establishment of a veterinary university in Bahawalpur, the faculty of the IUB College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences would be merged with the new university.

Agreeing that there was a shortage of qualified faculty, the DG Extension said the new university would be set up totally on a new concept, adding that it would have satellite link with the foreign universities.THE NEWS