Pakistan’s Haier Edukation Instillations, Kwality Ashorance and PTCL Broadband
I read about HEC's discounted rates for the PTCL broadband for people affiliated with their institutes, and was going to ask my younger brother (who teaches at NUCES) to get me a connection, but it turned out that their ONLINE subscription form link is dead. Sad irony. Stripping down the port :88 from the URL takes you to a page with no information besides a login form, but since I'm not a subscriber, so its a Catch-22 situation.
As my broadband dreams can wait for a few more months, and because I was irritated by the typo (left bottom – 'Useful Linkss' – typos are my (one of many) pet peeve) on the HEC/DSL page, I decided to check the current situation of our higher education on the HEC website… after all, that's what websites are for, right?
A major portion of the taxes I pay, and a huge chunk of the national budget towards HEC, so one would expect them to take care of their website after flaunting their IT endeavors for the last 5-6 years… but after looking at the mandatory picture of our beloved president on the homepage and browsing a few pages, I got a very clear impression of the state of our Higher Education.
Pakistan is probably the only country that has degree-awarding 'instillations'. Not many countries can claim that!
"The HEC has launched the scheme to provide Partial Financial Support to around 50 teachers/researchers of public sector universities / degree awarding instillations as well as other Pakistani students who are in the final stages of completion of their (respective) Ph. D. studies abroad."
So they do know about spell-check and can find the 'Replace All' button.
They have a Pakistan Research Repository, whose aim is to "promote the international visibility of research originating out of institutes of higher education in Pakistan". Its probably the only interesting thing I could find on the website. Now imagine a decision-maker from an international university who is visiting the site to see what Pakistan has to offer in terms of research collaboration… he visits the PRR page, and reads the following:
Systematic mechanism for collection and digitization of MPhil and PhD level thesis
Website providing a single-entry access point
Theses made accessible in high-quality digitized format
Full-text of over 1096 Ph.D. theses is available
100 thesis are in the process of being uploaded
Estimated to hold approximately 2000 PhD in number upon completion
What would that visitor think? The commission that is supposed to educate the whole nation can't get their spelling and grammar right? In the last line, they're so confused on whether to use 'thesis' or 'theses' they have actually skipped the word. With all the foreign qualified people heading the commission, I certainly expected better content than above.
Of course, there are other technical problems like
- At least three different layouts in different parts of the website, like this and this that make the website totally inconsistent.
- At least one broken main menu link – Research and Development->Industrial Liaison… So industrialists can't find the relevant information either.
- Their main menu is invisible in FireFox, until you mouse-over the navigation area – works fine on IE… but I, like a lot of people, don't use IE.
- The homepage banner INTERNAL links (including the DSL offer) open in new windows. Irritating.
Some may call this nitpicking, but I believe that attention to such small details is absolutely necessary if you want to create a good brand image, either as a 'Commission' or as a country.
I have been consulting for the EPFL Switzerland initiated Blue Brain Project this year, which is a huge effort to model/simulate the mammalian brain, with main funding coming from IBM. Now those guys are going international very soon, and are establishing collaborations with universities and companies all over the world to outsource parts of their research and support projects. I was thinking of pitching the idea of having a larger group in Pakistan helping them out, perhaps in official collaboration with such government organizations as HEC, but looking at the condition of the HEC website, I think that may not be a wise idea after all.
About a month ago, we found (by looking at the HTML source) out at Lahore Metroblogs that the Official Website for Lahore is a rip-off of the State of Connecticut Official Website, developed by the software firm owned by our city mayor. Since then, the alt texts that pointed to the CT website have been removed, along with the link to the designer's personal website. The website still remains a rip-off.
To conclude my rant, here's the link to a (funny) recent press release that says: "HEC is also member of the highly prestigious international quality assurance and accreditation networks"