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[April 20, 2014]
The gift of education: Tablets offered to promote technological education
(Express Tribune (Pakistan) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) A private college is offering students a chance to win a tablet computer by registering for its short courses.
v The college administration say they intend to promote technological awareness through access to latest technology.
The Peak Solutions College offer ended on Friday. Every student enrolling in any of the six short courses being offered had an opportunity to win one of the three Dany tablets by being included in a lucky draw.
The lucky draw will take place on Monday. The administration said this was the first time it had offered tablets, but it had always had an admission gifts system.
Qayam Raza Naqvi, principal of the Griffen Campus, one of four Peak Solutions campuses, told The Express Tribune that the short courses were largely focused on IT. He said this was a factor in offering students the gadget.
Naqvi said such offers did not mean a compromise on the quality of education. The college, which has been operating for 14 years, charges Rs5,000 for each of the two to three month courses. He said 200 students were currently enrolled in various short courses at the Griffen Campus. Courses are offered in a range of disciplines, from information technology, computer hardware and networking, management sciences, to fashion and textile design and English.
Naqvi said that the college had always offered gifts to its students. In the past, these had included college merchandise like wall clocks, bags and pens.
"It goes without saying that the element of attracting business is present, but that does not have to be negative", Naqvi said. The private education sector, he said was already treated by the government like a business. "The key is to ensure that the marketing tools don't affect the quality of education." "Of course such offers attract more studentsit worked in my case," said a student who has enrolled in a web development course. He said similar short courses were being offered by a number of institutions, but not everybody was offering tablets. A tablet currently costs Rs7,000 or more. "I don't mind getting a chance to win a tablet by registering for a short course. What is wrong with that?" he said.
Sarim Raza, a former student who had enrolled in a graphic design course at the Shadman campus, said the course had given him a basic understanding of concepts but not much in terms of marketable skills.
"They had a discount offer, so the course fee had been cut from Rs3,000 to Rs2,500 if one enrolled by a specified date." Raza said if he was given a chance to enroll again and win a tablet, he would rather look for quality of education and not the fringe benefits of registering for a course.
"The problem is the failure to oppose the private education sector as a money making entity", said child rights activist Iftikhar Mubarak.
He said several colleges were using such marketing gimmicks. He said in the absence of regulation by government, the impact of such offers on education had never been determined holistically. "Personally, I don't see a negative impact, unless merit and quality are being comprised", he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 19th, 2014.
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