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Sharp increase in textbooks & notebooks prices

Prices of textbooks and notebooks register sharp increase
Islamabad, April 11: A great rush of students and parents was seen at bookshops in the city with start of a new session in government and private academic institutions.

Parents said that booksellers were getting huge margin by selling notebooks and textbooks at almost double prices. Naveed Aslam, a grade 8 student, said that booksellers were charging almost double prices of notebooks and registers. "They have pasted new price labels on their own," he said. He added that some textbooks were short in the market.

Muhammad Riaz said that he came to the market to buy new textbooks and notebooks for his children. According to him, prices of textbooks have increased like items of daily use. "It has become difficult for the poor to give good education to their children." He said that he purchased grade six textbooks and notebooks for his son for Rs2,100. "It is a very big amount for me as I earn only Rs12,000 per month and bearing the expenses of my five-member family," he added.

Nasreen Bibi said that her monthly budget has disturbed after purchasing new textbooks and notebooks for her two children. "I used to purchase old books from bookshops but many teachers in schools are forcing students to bring new books," she added.

Malik Nawaz, a bookseller at Urdu Bazaar, Rawalpindi, said that they were purchasing textbooks and notebooks at high rates. "We cannot bear losses. We are selling books and notebooks keeping in mind our profit margin as we have to feed our families too."

He said many people were blaming booksellers for high prices, but it was not their fault as prices of all items have been increased, including textbooks and notebooks. The news

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Teachers protest non-payment of hiringallowance
Islamabad: School and college teachers here on Tuesday held a protest demonstration against the delay in payment of ceiling/hiring allowance to them and the ban on further hiring of houses.

The protest was organised by Tanzeem-i-Asataza Pakistan (TAP)'s Islamabad chapter outside the National Press Club.

President of TAP Aziz Wahid said out of the over 13,000 employees in the educational institutions of the federal capital, less than 50 per cent were availing the facility of hiring. And those who have hired houses are waiting for the release of payment but the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) seems least bothered to resolve the issue.

He added: "I have borrowed money and paid the house rent of two years to the owner. It is just a symbolic protest and if the problem is not resolved within 10 days, we will consider boycotting classes and paper marking."

He said there were so many vacant houses in the federal capital but the property dealers were not ready to rent them to teachers.

Meanwhile, talking to this reporter, the secretary general of the Federal Government College Teachers Association (FGCTA), Prof Tahir Mahmood, said teaching and non-teaching staff in the capital had not been paid hiring/ceiling allowance for the last over two years.

According to sources in the FDE, the backlog of payment for hiring houses ran into Rs1.06 billion. There are 13,854 teaching and non-teaching employees out of whom 5,401 have hired accommodation through the FDE. Moreover, 1,280 employees are on the waiting list for the last about four years. Due to shortage of funds, newly-recruited teachers are not allowed even to apply for the facility.

It has become impossible for the teachers to keep their families with them in the city because they cannot pay the house rent out of their meagre resources. The teachers' representative said owners were asking teachers to either clear their outstanding rent or vacate the houses.

An official of the FDE said other departments like PIA and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission had also decentralised system of hiring but they never faced such an issue. However, it is regrettable that teachers in the capital have been facing problem in getting the hiring allowance.

"This issue is leaving adverse effects on the performance of teachers. How can a teacher carry out his/her responsibility in such a situation?

The FDE and Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) have failed in resolving the issue," said Professor Yasmeen Bokhari, the vice-president of FGCTA.

Sources said the mechanism evolved by FDE and supervised by CADD had failed to ensure release of funds from the finance division and disburse it among the teachers on time. This is the reason the backlog of payment has been increasing ever since the house renting system was decentralised by abolishing the estate office in 2006.

Mr Mahmood said there was an urgent need for a supplementary grant so that the backlog of Rs1061.28 million can be cleared. He said the FDE had failed to draw funds from the finance division.

"Why it has not demanded annual budget according to the need? It shows the inefficiency of the FDE," he added.

Professor Khalida Makhdoom said: "Housing schemes for teachers should be launched on a priority basis and new housing units be
constructed as early as possible. New housing units can also be constructed within the premises of colleges and schools."

Talking to this reporter, Director General FDE Atif Kiyani expressed the hope that they would get Rs430 million this year. He said a request sent to the prime minister for special grant would be considered during the preparation of the national budget.

Joint Secretary CADD Rafique Tahir said a summery for a grant of Rs1,200 million had been sent to the ministry of finance which returned it with some objections. The summary will be sent again to the ministry in the current week, he added. Dawn

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RSS celebrates 24th anniversary
Islamabad: Students of the Roots School System (RSS) celebrated its 24th birth anniversary in a bond of love, joy, happiness, pride and respect for their alma mater here on Tuesday.

The schools wore a festive look filled with thrilled and enthusiastic Rootsians. All directors were present amidst this happy occasion; Colonel (r) Mushtaque Rasul Chaudhry, CEO of the Roots School System; Riffat Mushtaq, founder director of the Roots School System; Khadija Mushtaq, executive director of the RSS; Chaudhry Faisal Mushtaq, executive director of the RSS; and Walid Mushtaq executive director of the RSS. Heads of all RSS branches were also present on the occasion.

Aesthetically crafted greeting cards strewn with shining beads, crystals and fabric flowers were presented to Riffat Mushtaq for her selflessness, love and passion for children. All branches were decorated with balloons, cards, banners, steamers and birthday songs were sung by students. Students were dressed up in colourful dresses, carrying buntings, balloons, wearing birthday caps spreading confetti poppers everywhere in surroundings.

A group of preparatory students showed their affection with the institution through their performance on a song with pompoms. Beautifully dressed Montessori students gave enthralling performances along with the mesmerising speech given by a 6th grader. Roots vans were decorated to mark the 24 years with balloons and confetti adding to the aura. Cake cutting ceremony was a moment reminding everyone how Roots has progressed.

Speaking on the occasion, RSS Founder Director Riffat Mushtaq said that every individual's efforts are recognisable and contribution can't be ignored. "Management has taken a lot of steps with time like new curriculum enforcement, ICT has been integrated into curriculum and training of staff. The achievements of students in extracurricular activities and in academics is a proof of involvement of RSS staff with full devotion," she added.

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School for special children facing closure
Islamabad: The Angels School exclusively meant for special children, situated on Range Road in Rawalpindi Cantonment, is facing hardships to continue its free services to its students because of lack of funds.

According to the school administration the school is free of charge and is being run entirely on funds and donations. The school provides education as well as free transportation to its 25 students that are categorised into mental and physical disability.

The Angels School founder Nadeem K. Joseph said the school was established in 2008, but now they were facing financial constraints in running the school properly. "Since we give salary to the teachers and have to meet expenses ourselves because we rely entirely on donations and charity funds.

Philanthropists and affluent people are requested to support us so that these special children can continue with their studies in the school," he added.

He said that Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal Managing Director Zamurrud Khan visited the school and donated Rs10,000 each for the students in 2009, but now they were running out of funds to run the school smoothly. "Earlier, we had two pick up vans, but now we have one van to pick the kids from home.

There are many students who are coming to our school from broken homes and it is necessary for us to support them," he added. The news

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Riphah youth festival begins in twin cities
Islamabad: Riphah Youth Festival 2012, organised by Riphah International University (RIU), began at the university's Rawalpindi and Islamabad campuses on Tuesday, bringing together students, teachers, parents, corporate sector, multinational companies and general public.

This is the second youth festival organised by Riphah International University. The first was held from March 21 to 25 last year.

The students of various faculties of RIU and other educational institutions of Rawalpindi, Islamabad and other cities are taking part in games and contests, including debates and Qirat and Naat competitions.

RIU Chancellor Hassan Muhammad Khan formally opened the festival in a ceremony, which was held at the main campus in the I-14 sector on Tuesday. The games and competitions for female students are being held at Al-Mizan campus in Rawalpindi, while games for male students are being held at the main campus in the capital's I-14 sector.

In Qirat competition, Qaisar Muhammad of International Islamic University got the first position while Hafiz Arsalan of RIU obtained the first position the Naat competition.

Among female participants, Maira Hassan Kiyani of RIU got first the prize in calligraphy.

Zikra of RIU got the first position in Naat competition while Mubashira Yaseen of the same university got the first position in Qirat competition. The youth festival will conclude on Saturday with a special evening event and a gala dinner. Daily times

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