What’s going on at NCA!
UPDATE: make sure to read the comments from students and teachers presenting various aspects of the story below. Seems like many political forces are in action now and the situation is getting very messy indeed.
So there seems to much furor going on at the National College of Arts, NCA.
I have mentioned before in my posts about the confusion regarding the NCA Principal appointment controversy. After Principal Naazish Ataullah retired, Fauzia Qureshi (Head of Department Architecture) was posted as the Acting Principal. She retired from that position early this year. The year 2011 itself has been riddled with issues regarding federal or provincial ‘ownership’ of NCA and the fluctuating methods of assigning the new Principal - and I discussed them here in this post: Effing NCA Hullabaloo in February.
Now it seems that the situation has spiralled out of control. Over the summer vacations, Bashir Ahmed (Miniature ustaad extraordinaire/Department Head and also the last posted Head of Department Fine Arts) was assigned the position of Acting Principal. This has not been taken well by many of the students and the faculty due to various reasons, both personal and general. Some argue that he has superseded many other candidates that were senior and more suited to the position. Mostly people see this as a magnification of the problems the Fine Arts Department faced while he was the Head. That time period resulted in a complete breakdown of relationships and trust. Unfortunately, this was also used by the opportune to further their own interests in less than scrupulous ways.
I have acknowledged Bashir Sahab’s immense talent and also his immense amount of eccentricity, however I do also know that these qualities DO NOT automatically pave way for good administrative ones. Over the past few years, power politics within the senior teachers in the Fine Arts department have effectively translated into lobbying and partying of various groups. Many students in the Miniature department have been victim to the politics that have waged on between him and the progressive new, and also extremely talented, teachers.
But what has happened now?
There were all kinds of rumors flying around in the ‘Dengue-vacations‘, one that were as varying as they were stupendous! It was finally confirmed that the contracts of four teachers, in some cases very senior, have ‘not been renewed’. A polite way of saying: You’re Fired.
The teachers in question are Laila Rahman and Maryam Hussain from the Fine Arts Department and Irfan Ghani and Syed Aqeel Kazmi from the Architecture Department. Several news items and students also cite the names of Shireen Pasha (Head of Department Film & TV) and Sarwat Ali (Head of Department Musicology), but I cannot confirm that as yet. The four confirmed teachers hold important positions and have been instrumental in shaping student’s work and designing modern and more effective study modules and coursework. They also seem to have an ardent student following.
According to the Express Tribune, “The teachers said their contracts had been ‘terminated’ by the principal for personal reasons. The principal said the college Board of Governors (BoG) had decided not to extend their contracts and he had nothing to do with the decision.”
What a bloody mess! And for all of this to happen just months before the THESIS time is unbelievable and most of all UNFAIR to the students, who at this moment are already going through crunch time.
A large protest was organized at the NCA gates yesterday, Monday, September 27, 2011. Many members of the present faculty joined their protest and boycotted classes.
Photo courtesy Jaago NCA
JAAGO NCA is a student-run facebook group that is very active in reporting details and student feedback. It is also highlighting misreporting on the part of several journalists who say that the students were ‘forced’ to protest. Check it for updates and photographs.
The thing that I will ALWAYS love about NCA is the voicing of opinions through Non-Violent means. As students, we protested the attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan by the US Military by our silent protests and thought-provoking artworks on the Mall Road. The students today also chose to highlight a peaceful method of protest with messages of endearment towards the teachers that have been fired.
Many institutions in Pakistan have to take a page from NCA’s notebook when it comes to peaceful protests.
I don’t know what’s going to happen or if any corrective measures will be taken to address the student’s and teacher’s concerns. I don’t encourage maligning or blaming as good tactics either. But whatever happens, I do wish that the student’s get a satisfactory response and are able to continue their studies without these ridiculous and uncalled for hurdles. After all, it’s the students that make NCA.
I WISH THE STUDENTS THE BEST OF LUCK!
Always with a pinch of humor, always with a love for humanity. This photograph and the humorous twist on the famous slogan really had me smiling!
Here are a number of major news agencies covering the story in the past 2 days.
- NCA contracts: Students, faculty protest ‘termination’ of teachers - The Express Tribune
- NCA students stage protest against 4 teachers’ termination in Lahore – SAMAA Tv (make sure to click on the video link to hear the students talk.
- NCA students, faculty protest against teachers’ dismissal – Daily Times
- Students protest teacher’s sacking – The Nation
- NCA students Boycott Classes - Pakistan Today