PMDC’s 50:50 quota – Playing with our lives and our future

Published: September 30, 2014

Students take the medical and dental colleges’ entrance tests under sprawling tents at Grassy Ground, Saidu Sharif. PHOTO: EXPRESS FILE

The candidates are competing for 6,455 MBBS and 931 BDS seats at 20 public and 40 private colleges. PHOTO: EXPRESS FILE Students take the medical and dental colleges’ entrance tests under sprawling tents at Grassy Ground, Saidu Sharif. PHOTO: EXPRESS FILE

Two hours ago, I was sitting with my family watching TV and enjoying the show. Now, two hours later, I am typing this while my eyes are red and swollen.

Why? Because two hours ago, I picked up my cellphone and came across an email that had a scanned copy of a letter from the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) saying that there should be a 50:50 quota for men and women in all medical colleges. And now everything is uncertain.

There is no notification on the website of PMDC as I search frantically for any piece of news that I can get my hands on while trying to make sense of it all.

This new policy affects me greatly as I am a repeater. I applied to National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) last year and fell short of around 0.3%. And as I didn’t apply to University of Health Sciences (UHS), I had to repeat a year. This year, I gave the entrance exam again in April and scored well. I calculated my aggregate and compared it with the minimum required last year and figured out that I had high chances of getting in. Since I didn’t want to go elsewhere, I didn’t care much about the UHS test but decided to give it anyway.

Now, when the admission process is about to end, especially for UHS, a letter has been issued to all public and private medical colleges saying that the quota system is to be implemented from this year onwards. As a result, the merit for women doctors will increase in the public and private sector medical colleges of Punjab. Had I known about this restored policy earlier, I would have planned things differently and so would have thousands of other women. I would have prepared differently, just like female applicants next year, who will already know about this change in policy.

Now admissions to other universities are closed and the future of many is uncertain.

Personally, I think that the 50:50 ratio policy is a good thing, considering the fact that we are facing a crisis in Pakistan with regards to the number of doctors in general, and male doctors in particular. A lot of women now go to medical schools, finish their degrees but end up leaving the profession due to their personal preferences and men who have just a little less than the required aggregate marks, end up suffering. However, implementing the policy right in the middle of the admission process is downright unfair and farcical.

This decision was taken in February but the colleges were informed in September. It is unacceptable of the PMDC to not inform the students beforehand. If they have to implement the quota system, they should do so from the next academic year so that the students know in advance and can make better decisions.

I request the concerned authorities to take notice as the future of many students hangs in the balance, and it is unjustified to play with our lives like this.

Maryam Humayun

Maryam Humayun

A 19-year old who loves to eat, shop and read and is truly, deeply and madly in love with Pakistan.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • khobeb

    sorry to hear your story, i hope PMDC becomes more sensible in implementing this decision,Recommend

  • vaqas

    Regardless of what shortage of which doctors in the country, any form of quota should be unacceptable on the basis of sound principles. Across the board the only thing that should matter is who is more capable. What that person decides to do later is none of anybodys business, Least of all corrupt state institutions. Unless we bring merit as the sole decider, shunning race creed color religion and gender, no progress is expected in this country. But two things i have to point out which are on a slight tangent from the topic. First, the government has so for been unable to fairly compensate the existing lot of doctors for their services, second they have failed miserably to provide quality healthcare to the populace. Both facts are the direct consequence of metro bus getting more attention than health. Secondly, if the current batch of doctors is too small a number to effectively provide for the masses health advice, the number of state institutions educating doctors should be increased. But that is a problem since quality education takes a backseat to motorways, which for some twisted logic is a far superior thing than education. The jist, the country needs to give education and health top priority no matter what logic you use for the long term betterment of the country. All else is just hogwash.Recommend

  • Shoeb

    I totally agree this is outrageous!! how can they do this without prior notification, we should all condemn this and ask the government for answers. This is wrong on so many levels that I can not begin to express.

    I would like to ask our Government, administrative board and parliamentarians to take notice of this and if they want to implement such changes they need to give atleast 2 3 year official notice so students can make career choices according.

    Students have been studying year long there parents have been paying for the tuition fee this entire time and at the time of the examination this happens this.

    This decision needs to be revised and in a country in which the literacy is already low student trying to get higher education should not be discouraged irrespective of there gender.Recommend

  • Saad

    I think its a good decision given the fact that there should be an appropriate representation of women in all departments of the country. We all know that women don’t practice due to many obligations and the amount government invests is never paid back in any form. Its not about merit, its about the intellectual contribution of a person to its society in some form.

    I have personally met brilliant female in the engineering sector but as most of them join medical colleges, few are left behind to come into engineering schools. I believe this distribution will lead women to apply into engineering schools too, which infact is necessary for Pakistan and also necessary for equal representation of women in all other sectors of PakistanRecommend

  • Arshman

    Let’s wait for all the misogynistic comments masquerading as reason saying “Larkian rishtay kar leti hain, roti pakati hain, 50/50 to hay he equality” -_- They should have made service after graduation mandatory. That would have been the real solution to the problem and not impacted the female population like this either. This is unfair to all the girls with higher marks who will now be sitting at home. It’s unfair to Pakistan because it will now be deprived of potentially amazing female doctors who were going to opt to serve the country. It’s sexist. and it does not directly solve the problem. I can’t believe a group of sane people actually came up with this plan with none of them saw the pitfalls of this dumbryRecommend

  • Faraz Talat

    Your frustration is reasonable.

    PMDC is not exactly renowned for its fair and rational policies. The quota system makes no sense. If there is a culture of female doctors dropping out of practice after attaining their degrees (the dreaded ‘leaky pipeline’ conundrum), it’s appropriate to have MORE females in medical colleges, so we have a comparable male-to-female ratio later on.

    With the new quota system, we’re likely to end up with an over-abundance of male doctors and disproportionately few practicing female doctors!Recommend

  • noname

    Maryam, you call the entire decision short of fairness. Which in a way is right but it is the prevailing situation of shortage of doctors (which is only getting worse) due to which pmdc took this decision. The primary reason of this shortage is that majority of the female doctors do not practice after studies and sit at home raising kids. It perhaps more of a fault of the society that do not provide favorable conditions or perhaps some fault of those parents who favor girl’s studies so her marriage markets get better but are very against when that girl wants to practice after her studies or that husband who wants his wife to be at her disposal all the time.Recommend

  • adnan

    What is the memory span of PMDC? This issue was resolved by the supreme court in 1980’s. PMDC must stop going in circles! 50/50 seats are not the right policy, it is discrimination based on gender and hence is illegal. Since medical education is heavily subsidized by the government, the right policy would be a requirement of 5 year service after graduation or a payment of full tuition for those who don’t want to do that.Recommend

  • Syed Minhas Mahmood

    So mam what about the future of the medical profession of this country when the girls may be not you abandon the profession when they got married.What about the expenses spend by government on making a doctor. If you are intelligent and able to get admission in medical college it doesn’t imply that you have all the rights to become a doctor and then to leave it as easily as you want.But I am also supporting your verdict.A better solution may be to sign a bond in which doctors should be compelled to serve 14-15 years at least just like in armed forces.Recommend

  • siesmann

    Never heard that there will ever be a question of “male-discrimination” that needs correction,especially in a society that is overtly patriarchal.(on the other hand such a concern can only be raised in such a society)The truth is that women are better in studies if given a chance.This is true anywhere including India and Pakistan.Recommend

  • Eskay

    As a female physician who went through a public sector medical university , I strongly agree with this quota system *in the absence of* getting all medics male and female to sign a surety bond to serve until the cost of their medical education is paid off. Beginning first year, my female classmates started dropping out to get married. At this point I know barely 10% of my female former classmates are working in ANY capacity (yes, yes I know being a homemaker is also real work, but it does not require a medical degree). A waste of resources anywhere but specially in a resource-constrained country like Pak.

    Medical education paid for by the Pakistani taxpayer is NOT to spruce up marital CVs. As a feminist I strongly stand for equal opportunities. I also stand for the responsibility that comes with these. Sadly the irresponsible attitudes of many will make deserving women students sufferRecommend

  • Ali Chaudhary

    Very well put.Recommend

  • Kanwal

    I think what the writer says has a grain of truth but i will not be able to blame the new system either. Pakistan needs far more doctors than the current system is producing and the whopping numbers of female drop outs or career quitters are causing a big damage. I am a female and working professional. I have taken time off from work for having kids but i know numerous women who did use up the resources as me and are doing things that did not require the degree they earned. Consequently, the work they should also have been doing, is abondoned and this is a wastage of energy, time, tax payer money, etc etc. i strongly doubt MMBS doctors (who have quit) run an exceedingly better household. I think the loss to the medical profession in pakistan is so high that a measure like a quota system is indeed a need for us now. Or at least a strong bond that must be signed by all students so they have to serve a certain time after getting degree. Male or female, its only fair. Recommend

  • Shoeb

    This is a very irresponsible comment by a said “female physician.”

    This is not even about being feminist for anything this is about basic management of things how can you justify making quota immediately effective 10 20 day before the entrance test?

    This is a major decision and at-least an year notice should have provided for female students who have been studying year long for this opportunity only.

    How would u feel if you are standing in a queue waiting for your turn and sign comes up on the counter only males will be entertained as females are not using the product properly?

    Think about it.Recommend

  • usama

    i just want to ask that is this decision being implemented on this very year’s admissions or it will be followed from the next year??? plz do reply only if u hav the right information thank uRecommend

  • Faraz Talat

    This is not about “equal opportunities”. The quota system, in this case, punishes merit by unnecessarily importing gender into the matter of selection.

    “Yes ma’am, your credentials are impeccable. Unfortunately, we already have too many females in medical colleges so…shoo!”

    Quotas are useful only as affirmative action to assist a politically disadvantaged, and in the name of all that is holy, men are not a politically disadvantaged group.Recommend

  • Me

    ‘Personally, I think that the 50:50 ratio policy is a good thing, considering the fact that we are facing a crisis in Pakistan with regards to the number of doctors in general, and male doctors in particular. A lot of women now go to medical schools, finish their degrees but end up leaving the profession due to their personal preferences and men who have just a little less than the required aggregate marks, end up suffering. However, implementing the policy right in the middle of the admission process is downright unfair and farcical.

    This decision was taken in February but the colleges were informed in September. It is unacceptable of the PMDC to not inform the students beforehand. If they have to implement the quota system, they should do so from the next academic year so that the students know in advance and can make better decisions.’Recommend

  • Maryam

    I am also in favor of the quota system but informing the students right in the middle of the admission process is what I am against. Recommend

  • nayeem

    Students should be given what they deserve! 50:50 quota system is an obsolete and senseless criteria. If PMDC is really worried about the number of active doctors then here are number of steps it should look into:

    1: It should really increase the number of public medical institutes (38) as there are only few numbers of them than private institutes(53) which are too expensive.

    2: PMDC should counsel and encourage parents and female candidates that they should not abandon their career as continue it as long as possible.

    3: If PMDC cant counsel and increase public medical institutes then they should atleast go for 60:40 or 70:30.
    (pardon my grammatical mistakes)Recommend

  • Dante

    How in the world is 50-50 sexist? This is EQUAL opportunity! Look, perfectly well-balanced equal opportunity. 50 male doctors, 50 female doctors. No sexism, no misogyny.Recommend

  • Jehanzeb Mahar

    Glad to know that a girl supports this policy. However, this policy should be implemented from the next year, not in the midst of ongoing admission process. And those who are saying that those not practicing the medical profession should be made to bear the expenses, I have one question for you: what would you do if they don’t pay, or if they really don’t have money? Whom would you put in the jail? Doctor sahiba/sahib or her/his guardian? And quota system is injustice? My God… What about the exclusive 10% quota for women in all the government jobs with the 90% open to both the men and womenRecommend

  • ihsan_ahmadi

    As a medical student i see the situation as a loss to female students by 16%.

    lets dissect currenylt each year in a class of 300 girls are approx 200 that is 66%. so this implies that 16 % slash so on average 16% more boys instead of girls in this 50-50 situation.the population ratio is 51%females-males 49%.dissecting more a careful estimate in pakistan tells that 70% dropouts after MBBS are girls.if this was more than 16% slash then it could be alrming and grossly unfair but still i would say it is a bad news for aspiring female doctors and encourage them to go to abroad.on the other hand an incentive for male doctors to serve in the country and not flee abroadRecommend

  • umar

    Playing with your future? playing? seriously? how many of your gender wasted seats in the past just to get the status higher and rishtas. sorry to say that but true.. we need professional in the field not only craze of getting professional studiesRecommend

  • Prof

    The disadvantaged, in this case, are the rural population who lack proper medical care. And as long as the more qualified female doctors from public sector universities arent fulfilling their responsiblities the 50:50 quota is the best way our for disadvantaged poor (though I’d prefer a legally binding bond covering the net cost of education and training much like the HEC has in force in the case of HEC funded scholars).Recommend

  • Guest

    Better late than never.Recommend

  • Prof

    Ever hear the expression, ‘throwing good money after bad’ ?Recommend

  • Moiz Omar

    I’m completely disagree with this new policy of the PMDC.Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    That does not make sense.
    Unless PMDC is mandating medical training in rural areas for the purpose of becoming an RMP, it doesn’t matter to the villages how many or how few doctors we’ve got. Those doctors will stay in the cities, privately if necessary.Recommend

  • Syed Bushra

    1. As a feminist myself, I’m disappointed that you don’t have the same respect for women who identify as ‘homemakers’. This elitist attitude is not very inclusive which is what feminism is all about. Please refer to Bell Hook’s Third wave of feminism. Ergo, if we respect women’s contribution in workforce than we should respect and acknowledge their contribution as the backbone of our society. Even if its unpaid work.

    2. Its far more important to ensure that women who do take time off after marriage or for raising children have a way to get back into the workforce rather than simply writing them off as lost causes. That’s an inclusive approach and a start in my opinion.Recommend

  • Transistor

    I know you’re screwed as you’re already a repeater but this is the way things run in Pakistan. It’s a hell of a difficult job to keep yourself stable and calmed while making a 2nd attempt. Having known the talks about this decision, I think you went slow and didn’t see what’s coming. I have a friend who’s an alive monument, may be; got succeeded to get admission in KMSMC in his 6th attempt. He never gave up the desire being a doctor and went through in 2013 (06′ Matric). Anyway, the purpose was to keep you motivated and determined if you really want to go for medical at any rate. Otherwise, select the double math and come to UET. Although you’ve taken a justifiable initiative against this outrageous decision by penning all this. But still, I don’t see this working.

  • Maulana Maulvi

    I can understand your frustration, but do you not think this will allow Pakistan to overcome the shortage of male doctors?Recommend

  • Ayla

    Please refer to the advertisement Nawa e Waqt Dated 8th of July 2014 of the UHS regarding admission in Government Medical Colleges of Punjab for session 2014-2015 which describes and explains the whole details of admission process from selection criteria of MBBS and BDS,entry test,availability of admission,dates of submission of forms,preparation of merit list and its displaying date and commencement of the classes and their further schedules.When everything has been informed and explained for the year 2014-2015 then why PMDC has issued an unjust and illegal notification ,playing with the future of at least 500 female students,which is based on gender discrimination violating the Constitution of Pakistan of Human Equality.I request to the President,Prime Minister and Chief Justice of Pakistan to take serious action of this illegal and unlawful act of PMDC.Recommend

  • Ayla

    Very true and sincere advice for male students “Work hard only concentrate on your studies and nothing else, inshallah you’ll meat the merit”Recommend

  • zaki

    salute ur positive thinking,now a days most of the females dnt do job and waste the degreeRecommend

  • zaki

    very nice decision by PMDCRecommend

  • raamishasadraza

    yeah if that is done i dont think quota is required at all. even if 10-15 years service is done i think it will be more than enough. but its the girls fault as well, they have brought this upon themselves how unfair it maybeRecommend

  • Bisma

    Then according to this, will the entry test be taken in the year 2015 or will it still be taken with the quota system implemented? Please tell me thisRecommend

  • Alya Usman

    I personally believe it is absolutely wrong to implement the quota system, this year or the next. It is clearly gender discrimination. If women are getting seats in medical colleges, they’re getting it by working hard. Men are so smart but they don’t put in effort, therefore they don’t get in. So by decreasing the merit and bringing in guys who don’t even put in effort to deserve a seat in medical, how fair is that?
    And it is ESPECIALLY wrong to implement it all of a sudden after the MCAT. No one was prepared for it. Like you said, we could have prepared and thought things through differently if we knew beforehand.
    Great article. Let’s hope the PMDC develops a good head on their bodies and reconsiders their actions.
    Also, OF COURSE men would favour this move, hands down. It’s not even useful to hear a man’s opinion on this. They should all just be quiet.Recommend