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Bringing down HEC

PPP is about to wrap up HEC

Islamabad, April 01: In retrospect no one can deny that the nationalisation of educational institutes by the first PPP government was a mistake. The education sector suffered heavily from this and the country could never recover from this mistake. No wonder then that just recently Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani conceded that the nationalisation of the schools by the PPP had been a mistake.

But despite this admission, the PPP, now in its fourth term, is about to wrap up the Higher Education Commission (HEC) after the passage of the 18th amendment. The amendment has devolved the education sector to the provinces and as a result, the HEC and its responsibilities will also be passed down. This, however, has not come as a surprise to those watching the affairs of the HEC that had been set up by the former president, General (retired) Pervez Musharraf.

The Zardari-Gilani set-up made its intentions towards the HEC clear at the very outset. Soon after coming into power, the PPP government removed Dr Attaur Rehman, the founding chairman of the HEC, who still had another two years to go. He was replaced by a PPP loyalist, Dr Javaid Leghari, who has served as a senator in the past.

Rarely anyone protested this unfair treatment meted out to a body that has done some good work in the higher education sector in the past decade.

For instance, since its coming into being in 2002, the number of public sector universities and degree awarding institutions almost doubled from 59 to 127 while student enrollment went up from 135,000 to 400,000. Thanks to the HEC's efforts, the country produced 3,037 new PhDs from 2003 to 2009; compare this to the 3,281 scholars we produced from 1947 to 2002.

It has awarded 11,000 foreign scholarships since it was established and country has started reaping the benefit in the form of PhDs, whose number is increasing with every passing year.

Admittedly, a lot of this was possible because of the funds the commission had at its disposal. In 2002 when the HEC replaced the erstwhile University Grants Commission, its annually budgetary allocations hovered around a few hundred million rupees. This shot up to billions of rupees. In 2009-2010 the government allocated it Rs22.5 billion, along with Rs18 billion for recurring expenditures.

Yet, the funds for the HEC were slashed drastically by the current PPP government. And now the government has decided to do away with it altogether.

Many in the academy have criticised the government's decision. The Pakistan Academy of Sciences (PAS), which closely monitors the quality of research, is a case in point.

Dr Attaur Rehman has also been vocal. At a press conference, he asked the government to think twice before devolving the HEC's responsibilities down to the provinces.

"They don't want to see the country transforming into a knowledge-based economy because this would enable us to free ourselves from the clutches of international forces that want Pakistan to remain a poor state," he said.

According to another scientist, who requested not to be named, the decision was akin to the demolition of a multi-storey residential building shortly after its completion. "Once the complex has been destroyed, it is as if potential residents are asked to pick up the rubble and build their own houses."

Indeed, now that the HEC is about to be disbanded, no one knows what will happen to its programmes or the various scholars enrolled in international universities whose bill was being footed by the commission. Already, media reports had appeared that many of these scholars were facing financial problems as their allocations had been reduced due to the budget cuts the HEC was facing. Some of them have, in fact, already returned without completing their studies.

However, the government views all of this a little differently. Speaking at a press conference, on Tuesday, Chairman Implementation Commission Senator Raza Rabbani refused to accept that the HEC was protected under the federal legislative list of the constitution. He added that the "the HEC act will be revisited and reframed in the aftermath of the 18th amendment."

The 18th amendment has given the eight-member implementation commission the powers to issue orders, undertake proceedings and make amendments to regulations, enactments, notifications, rules or orders as may be necessary.

However, it is too soon to say if Mr Rabbani's will be the last word on the HEC. After all, a three-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, has accepted a petition challenging the devolution of the federal education ministry. Their decision will also impact the fate of the HEC. - khawar.ghumman@gmail.com (Dawn)

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Retention of HEC's central role sought
Rawalpindi: Vice Chancellor Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University Dr Khalif Mehmood Khan said the central role of Higher Education Commission should be retained for the development of universities.

He was addressing the 12th convocation of the university on Wednesday when 1,517 graduates of the 2010 session, including 21 PhDs, were awarded degrees in different disciplines. Besides, 59 graduates were given medals for their outstanding results.

The VC requested Governor Punjab Sardar Latif Khan Khosa, who was the chief guest, to play his role in retaining the central role of HEC for the better future of higher education in the country as under the commission the universities had made a lot of progress and a good number of students had availed scholarships.

The governor, however, did not make any comments on the matter in his speech and urged the graduates to go for research-based education with focus on agriculture.

He said it was heartening to see that the AAU was doing extensive work in the field of agriculture.

The governor also applauded the efforts of HEC in giving a roadmap and vision to the nation regarding higher education in science and technology. The commission has brought a paradigm shift to the culture of universities and institutions of higher learning, he said.

Earlier, the governor inaugurated the newly-constructed building of University Institute of Biochemistry and Biotechnology on the campus.

He also opened a flower show arranged by the department of horticulture in collaboration with National Horticulture Society of Pakistan.

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Stolen answer sheets Guilty candidates may face three-year ban
Rawalpindi: The candidates whose roll number slips have been recovered along with stolen solved answer sheets from a schoolteacher in Rawat are likely to face three-year ban.

The Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) has decided to scrutinise their answer sheets and, if found guilty of being involved in solving the paper, take stern action against them, it is learned.

As many as 43 roll number slips were recovered by Rawat police from Waqar Satti, a private schoolteacher, as he was caught with 522 solved answer sheets he had allegedly stolen from the United Bank Limited, Chowk Pindorian branch. The slips were of the candidates appearing in the annual secondary school certificate examination part-I, 2010.

"The roll number slips can be used as evidence against the students and the fate of other students would be decided by the BISE disciplinary committee," said Controller Examination Abdul Sattar Ramay.

He said the examination body had taken into the custody the sheets the Rawat police recovered on Sunday night from two men.

According to the rules of the board, the candidates could face three-year ban from appearing in the annual examination. The results of the could be withheld till the disciplinary committee concluded its probe.

"A disciplinary committee comprising four senior professors and teachers would decide unfair means cases while another

would soon be constituted scrutinize the recovered answer sheets," the controller said.

Majority of the candidates whose sheets were recovered are private candidates, the controller said.Meanwhile, the additional secretary of Punjab higher education department, Chaudhry Mohammad Akram, looking into the matter to ascertain the role

of the officials of Rawalpindi BISE in the case declared the low rank officials of secrecy branch of the board as guilty for not collecting the answer sheets from the bank in time.

A superintendent of the secrecy branch had already been suspended along with two clerks and the rest of the officials would get suspension soon after Chaudhry Mohammad Akram found them guilty.

In another development Rawat police obtained two days physical remand of Ahmed, the guard of UBL, and Sajjid Ali, a sweeper in the bank from the area magistrate to question them about how the answer sheets were stolen from the bank.

Rawat SHO Chaudhry Mehdi Khan said police was trying to arrest the main accused Zahir Shah as he was on the run. Dawn

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IIU programme for HRD concludes
Islamabad: The month-long 26th International Programme for Human Resource Development arranged by Da'wah Academy of the International Islamic University (IIU) concluded here on Thursday. The participants from Kenya, Myanmar, Nepal, Zimbabwe, Malawi, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Uganda, and Ghana attended the programme, said a news release issued on Thursday.

IIU Rector Professor Fateh Muhammad Malik Rector addressing the concluding ceremony highlighted the importance of the Muslim Unity stating that Da'wah workers should preach harmony and self-respect while dealing with others especially in the case of non-Muslims. Professor Fateh Muhammad Malik added that it was a pride for Da'wah Academy and the University that they have so far arranged 26 international programmes, which were largely attended by Da'wah workers from various parts of the world. Daily times

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NUST graduate's book published in Germany
Islamabad: The book titled 'Reconfiguration RF Front End for Multi-standard Communication Design, Analysis and Evaluation' has been published in Germany, says a press release.

The book based on the research work of Syed Ahsaan-e-Panjtan Rizvi, a graduate of the faculty of Telecommunication Engineering, National University of Sciences and Technology, will be useful for students, teachers and professionals in the field.

Syed Ahsaan efforts are appreciable in production of this technical book just at the age of twenty-two.

It is a great honour for our country and the NUST that such a book, based on his research in the university on a very delicate and technical subject relating to the Telecom Engineering, was liked and selected by a German publishing house during a survey. The book is available on amazon.com and other online sites.

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Beaconites celebrate Culture Day
Rawalpindi: The Beaconhouse School System, Gulraiz Branch, organized a Culture Day on its campus.

"We wanted to celebrate Pakistan Day in a different style so we celebrated our culture, our nationality, our cuisines and our dances by depicting them in various stalls on the 'Culture Day', which the students have done independently. We wanted to pay a tribute to our rich culture, which is followed and cherished by every Pakistani," said Principal Samira Agha.

She said that they arranged art competitions for students on the theme of 'Pakistan'. 'Scenic Beauty' was the topic for the northern region stall, for the southern region a pottery making competition was held and for the Punjab stalls, girls competed to make tie and dye 'dupattas'. The school provided all material for competitions.

Nigar Nazar, a renowned cartoonist, was the judge on the occasion. She took rounds of various stalls and students gave relevant information about their projects.

At Punjab stall, the guests were entertained with a big glass of 'lassi'. There was an artificial 'well' made in the ground from where students were taking out water. The village scene had men wearing 'dhotis' and 'pagris' sitting on 'charpoys' and smoking hookahs while the village girls danced on 'bhangra' beat. The guests were served with 'makai ki roti' and 'sarson ka saag'.

The stall of Sindh had girls wearing 'ajrak' and men wearing Sindhi caps. 'Darri' and patchwork quilts were also hanged on the stalls. The Sindhi cuisine contained Sindhi 'biryani', 'phulkas', 'sohan' and other tasty 'halwas'.

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa stall had various handicrafts, guns and ammunition, bead jewellery, bags and sequenced purses.

The northern region cuisine had 'sajji', 'chapli kebabs' and 'kahwa' with a variety of dry fruits on the stall. Students presented 'Khattak' and 'Balochi' dances on relevant songs in colourful dresses. Traditional drawing rooms with low seating arrangements were also made aesthetically by students. A horse with a boy standing in the corner depicted the northern culture where horses are mostly used by people living on mountains.

Later, Nigar Nazar showed various animated clips to students in which a strong message was given to children regarding Pakistan's culture, environment and social issues. The news

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5th, 8th grade exams Top positions go to private schools
Chakwal: Students of private schools grabbed the top positions in the district as the Punjab Examination Commission announced the results of the primary and middle standard exams on Thursday.

Only one top position third in the middle standard exams was secured by a student of a government school in Chakwal.

Disappointingly, only 31 per cent of the candidates passed their fifth grade exams. However, 56.72 per cent of the candidates passed their eighth grade exams.

Out of the 26,038 students appearing in the primary exams in the district, 8,072 were declared successful.

Mohammad Waqas Anwar of New Misali Public Secondary School, Talagang, got first position in the primary exams by securing 526 marks.

Anam Anwar Malik of Fauji Foundation Model School, Buchal Khurd, stood second with 515 marks while Mohammad Aslam of Fauji Foundation Model School (Boys), Arrar, stood third by securing 509 marks.

New Misali Public Secondary School, Talagang, clinched the three top positions in the middle exams. The school's students, Ali Zainul Abideen, Khalilur Rahman and Arsalan Hussain respectively got 733, 713 and 710 marks. The second and third positions were also shared by Anam Fatima of District Public School and Hamnah Zahra of Government Higher Secondary School No 1, Chakwal.

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GCUF offers affiliation to public colleges
Faisalabad: The Government College University Faisalabad (GCUF) has offered affiliation to public colleges of Faisalabad division without any charges and that their representatives will also be accommodated in the university's council and board of studies.GCUF Vice-Chancellor Dr Zakir Husain said this at a meeting with the principals of more than 50 colleges of Faisalabad division on Thursday.

At the moment, boys college of Samanabad, Khurrianwala and Ghulam Mohammadabad and women's college Madina Town have affiliation with the university.

Dr Husain said the GCUF was the second biggest institution after the Punjab University with enrolment of 15,000 students of 34 disciplines. He said the university ranked 19th on the list of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and the position would be improved in the days to come as university administration would hire experienced faculty.

He said 50 PhD scholars had been hired by the university, of which the HEC was paying salaries to 15 teachers.

Dr Husain said four memorandums of understanding had been inked with universities of the US and the UK whose faculty members would give lecture to students.

Dr Husain said the administration had waived affiliation fee of the institutions and nominees of such institutions would also be made part of the academic council and board of studies. He said the examination record of such institutions students would also be computerised.

A special affiliation cell has been established at the institution to help government colleges. Dawn

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