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Khyber Pakhtunkhwa supports HEC devolution

KP supports HEC devolution
Peshawar, April 05: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has dispelled the impression that it was against the devolution of the Higher Education Commission (HEC), saying a lobby has become active to create hurdles in the implementation of 18th Amendment by getting baseless reports published in the media.

Spokesman for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and chairman Overseeing Committee on Devolution Mian Iftikhar Hussain said the HEC devolution was part of the 18th Amendment and its non-implementation would be tantamount to violating the constitution.

There has been strong opposition to the HEC devolution from some former and current officials of the commission, heads of various universities and even teachers associations. The vice-chancellors of various universities had announced in November 2010 to oppose the HEC devolution plan as they it would ruin the process of promotion of higher education.

Some reports suggested that the implementation commission visited Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab where it received go-ahead signal for the devolution of the commission. Some other reports, however, quoted former chairman of the HEC Prof Dr Attaur Rahman as saying that "Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab governments have made it clear that they did not desire the devolution of higher education to the provinces since it is believed that higher education is part of the Federal List in the 18th Amendment." He claimed the two provinces were satisfied with the HEC performance.

Also, there were reports that the commission was being devolved to lessen burden on the federal budget. The HEC would be devolved and the provinces would be asked to run its affairs from the resources they have got under the National Finance Commission (NFC) and no budget would be extended to the provinces, one report stated.

Mian Iftikhar said the vice-chancellors could forward recommendations to the implementation council about the devolution process, but they had no authority to say that the decision should be revoked. "Their statement or the resolution they have adopted against the devolution of the HEC holds no ground," he argued.

"It has been decided that the HEC and some other departments would be devolved to the provinces and this decision would never be reversed," he maintained. The minister said that the province was fully prepared for the devolution of the HEC and the federal government had been informed of the preparation made for the purpose.

Mian Iftikhar, who is also provincial minister, said budget for the HEC had already been allocated. "Till next NFC award, the federal government would bear its expenses. This is the standpoint of the province. The federal government is, however, of the opinion that funds for would-be devolved departments have already been given to the provinces," he added.

This is a technical issue and would be resolved mutually by the federal government and the provinces, he added. He rejected the notion that with the devolution of the commission, promotion of higher education would be affected, saying the provinces would rather focus more on further expediting the process to promote higher education.

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Students arrested after bail rejection
Peshawar: The Peshawar High Court on Monday rejected the pre-arrest bail of eight students of University of Engineering and Technology (UET) in Peshawar who were charged with killing a fellow student over playing music at a hostel.

A single bench comprising Justice Shahjehan Khan dismissed bail before arrest (BBA) of the eight students. After dismissal of the BBA of the students, the Campus Police Station University of Peshawar arrested them from the PHC premises.

The same bench also allowed bail cancellation application of the provincial government against one of the prime accused, Nauman Khattak. Interestingly, it was the duty of police to arrest the accused person after bail cancellation application was allowed in the court, but due to the police inability the accused student managed his escape from the PHC premises.

Nauman Khattak was earlier arrested by the police in Karak district but was later set free on bail by the Anti-Terrorism Court.Earlier on December 13, the Chief Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan had granted pre-arrest bail to the eight petitioners to furnish two sureties of Rs300,000 each.

The deceased, Adnan Abdul Qadir, a final year student of UET belonging to Bannu, had died at a local hospital on March 19 after he suffered serious injuries on March 12 in a clash with alleged activists of the Islami Jamiat-e-Tulaba (IJT).

The complainant in the case was Ibrahim Khan, a fellow student who had charged nine members of the IJT for the offence. The accused included Sibghatullah, Muqeemuddin, Umar Farooq, Mohammad Ibrahim, Nauman Khattak, Zahid Khattak, Azizur Rehman, Fahad and Zulfiqar. The death of the student sparked violent protests following which all the educational institutions on the Peshawar University Campus were to close down for a few weeks. The news

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Karachi colleges academic year further shortened
Karachi: Students of public-sector colleges and higher secondary schools in the city have just 147 academic days to complete their course, which has been designed by experts keeping in view 210 academic days of a session, due to several unscheduled holidays and the delay in beginning of the session, it emerged on Monday.

The shortest-ever academic session at government colleges and higher secondary schools in Sindh may make it difficult for first-year students to compete with those studying in other provinces, for the latter have over 200 days to attend classes.

In addition to four official holidays over the recent few weeks, teaching activities also remained suspended across Sindh on March 16 in protest against the manhandling of teachers by police during their rally near DJ Govt Science College on the previous day.

"The first-year students whose classes for the current academic session had begun at least five weeks behind schedule and were then suspended quite a few times due to unscheduled holidays are unlikely to do well in their annual exams, scheduled to begin on May 16," said senior teachers of city's reputed government colleges such as Adamjee and D.J. science colleges.

Commenting on the situation, the teachers said that it was not possible for the first-year students to complete their course within just 147 days when 210 days were considered appropriate by experts while planning the course, besides there was an acute shortage of teachers in city's government colleges.

"In fact the gap between the academic years for the first-year students of government colleges and higher secondary schools in Karachi and those studying in public-sector colleges of Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and other parts of Sindh and even those studying in private colleges of the metropolis has widened by about two months," they said.

In this situation, the teachers said, the first-year students of the rest of the country will have an edge over those studying in the public-sector educational institutions in Karachi.

The situation developed because of an inordinate delay in completing the process of admissions to first-year classes in government colleges and higher secondary schools under the centralised admission policy in the metropolis and the frequent public holidays, they said.

The process of admissions that began on July 23 was to be completed by Sept 4 and classes were scheduled to commence on Sept 6. However, first-year regular classes in most government colleges and higher secondary schools in the city began in the mid of October.

The admission process under the CAP delayed for various reasons such as a breakdown of law and order; lack of coordination among CAP committee members and the heads of public-sector colleges and higher secondary schools; and a belated decision of allowing 40 principals to grant admissions to students at their discretion.

Besides, the winter vacation in educational institutions of Sindh was observed for 12 days instead of 10 days as Jan 1 was a Saturday.

"As a matter of fact, the current academic session for first-year students of public-sector colleges and higher secondary schools in the city would have shrunk to mere 119 days had the chief minister not approved Sindh Education Minister Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq's proposal that the higher secondary school certificate annual examinations be extended by one month i.e. from April to May 16," the teachers said. Dawn

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Private school violates regulations on fee structure
Karachi: The Directorate of Private Institutions of Sindh (DPIS) seems powerless to stop private schools from increasing their monthly charges and recently turned a blind eye to another educational institute that decided to raise its tuition fees in the middle of the academic year. The school in question had increased the fee despite official regulations clearly stating that a private school cannot raise tuition in the middle of an academic session.

The management of the Karachi Public School (KPS), which is located near Star Gate on main Sharea Faisal, distributed new fee Challans to the students and advised them to pay according to the increased structure.

The parents of a KPS student lamented the management's decision to increase their charges. "Over the last three months, the school had been illegally charging us increased fees, while it was only agreed to implement the revised structure for the new academic year in April, 2011. The increase has made life difficult for families who are trying to give their children a decent education and also adds to the burden of sky-rocketing inflation."

The parents staged a demonstration in front of the main gate on January 4, 2011 to register their protest against the increased fees. They managed to block traffic on Sharea Faisal for around two hours and demanded the restoration of the old fee structure.

However, the police resorted to baton-charging the aggrieved parents and tried to disperse the mob at any cost. At the time Director of DPIS Mansoob Hussain Sidduiqi and Coordinator to the Education Minister Naveed Zuberi visited the school to resolve the dispute over the fee structure.

Following a meeting with parents and the school's administration, officials declared that KPS would revert back to the old fee structure. The meeting concluded on the note that DPIS and the minister's coordinator would come up with a proposal which would be acceptable for both the school and the parents.

The school's administration was also requested to meet the DPIS to devise the new fee structure. KPS was allowed to collect additional charges at the beginning of the next academic session resuming from April 2011 following the approval of the DPIS.

However, the school started collecting increased fees in the middle of the academic session in January of this year and only a few parents offered any resistance. Most of them started paying the increased fee from the very next month.

Those parents who did resist formed the Parents Action Committee (PAC) and paid a number of visits to the offices of DPIS, but ultimately, all their efforts were in vain. These parents claimed that the DPIS made them another another offer, according to which, only the children of PAC members would be allowed to pay the old fee if they withdrew their demands for a revised tuition structure.

However, the PAC refused this proposal and demanded the implementation of policies used to regulate the private sector schools. They said that the administration of the school could only raise the fees at the beginning of a new academic session and not during a running session. In addition to this, the school management could only raise the fees by five percent after getting the approval of the DPIS. However, members of the PAC claimed that the KPS had increased the fees between 20 and 40 percent.

The DPIS has failed to take any stern action in this regard against private schools and as a result, the managements of these schools were allowed to increase their fees in the middle of an academic session, which was against regulations.

Worryingly, the director of the DPIS and the education minister's coordinator both believed that the school had the right to increase the tuition fee. They argued that the school was offering standard education and due to inflation and the increase in electricity as well as other utility charges, KPS had no other option but to increase the fees.

Both the officials urged parents to support the school as it provides a number of facilities to the students in exchange for a nominal fee.

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BSEK exam preparations
Karachi: The Chairman, Board of Secondary Education, (BSEK), Karachi, Anwar Ahmed Zai, on Monday announced that one candidate would be accommodated to a single seat in 225 examination centres.

The officials have reviewed the process of mock exams and decided to increase the number of exams centres to accommodate one student to one bench during exams of secondary school certificate, he also said.

The process of delivering Admit cards is in the final stages and the law enforcement agencies have been told to make necessary preparations. The Home Department and other related authorities have been asked to stop the movement of unauthorised people during exams due to Section 144, he further said.

BSEK has called a meeting of centre superintendents on April 5 (today) to make plans for conducting the exams in a transparent manner, Zai added. The news

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