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KU & handicapped students | Exam cheating practices

KU lacks facilities for handicapped students
Karachi, April 18: An estimated 1.5 million people are visually impaired in Pakistan, a majority of whom is young, school, college and university going.

In Pakistan, blind students face numerous troubles when they leave their homes in order to go to educational institutes.

The overall infrastructure is not handicap-friendly and people with disabilities have to face a lot of difficulties, be it on the roads, buses, in public or private buildings and educational institutes.

Even at educational institutes like the University of Karachi (KU), which is attended by more than 40,000 students, the situation for the visually impaired is deplorable.

Muhammad Asif Nazir, who is a blind student at the KU Education Department, said that one of the major problems is lack of availability of audio recording systems. "There is not a single audio library at the university, which makes it extremely difficult for students like me," he said.

He further said that constructing an audio library for the visually impaired would reduce the dependency on sighted students, who record lectures at the moment to assist their visually handicapped comrades.

Nazir further said, "Forming a blind students union or organisation could help them voice their issues and concerns in front of the university administration."

Discussing the admission process, Nazir said that there are no provisions for handicapped students, and it makes the whole process very cumbersome.

The university announces the admission dates for the handicapped at the end of the whole process, however, this year the admissions were announced a month after the regular classes commenced.

Nazir was of the view that he did not experience a single facility by KU so far for the disabled except fees exemption for bachelor students.

He claimed, "Earlier, fees exemption facility for sightless was also available in MPhil and PhD programmes, but this year the university stopped giving the waiver."

There are no reserved seats for the disabled students in university buses, and in some departments, there are no handrails with the staircases even, the perturbed student informed DT.

Zafar Ahmed, another visually impaired student at KU Education Department, commented that apart from the infrastructure problems, some teachers discourage disabled students by saying, what is the need to study for the blind?

Ahmed said that there is no concept of Braille books in KU. "Every blind student has his or her own story to tell. Our problems increase tenfold when we have to go from one department to another, due to poor and unfriendly infrastructure as well as the distances," he said.

Explaining about the classes, he said that most of the lectures can be understood via recordings, however, some assignments require vision, he said, adding that one of his friend quit MA Education, because one assignment required drawing diagrams, which he could not. On asking for consideration, the teacher responded with, "you should have thought of this, before taking admission".

There are no extra curriculum activities for the disabled, Ahmed mentioned, adding, "I have never witnessed sports for blinds in KU."

Problems faced by the disabled at KU are multifaceted. Another sightless student Sheikh Uzair Hakeem expressing the same problems said that unfortunately in our country, there is no implementation of laws and promises, particularly for special people.

"We are surviving in this atmosphere through self help basis," Hakeem said, adding that in our country legislation for women, labour and minorities is present, but not for the disabled.

Separately, a female student, Tehmina Raza, also visually disabled said that being a woman makes it twice as difficult for her to travel. She keeps to herself mostly. The visually impaired students rely on a junior to give their written exams at the university, however, at times it becomes a bone of contention, explained Raza. "Many times students do not attempt the exam due to the unavailability of a writer," she said.

Talking to DT, KU Students Advisor Ansar Rizvi, accepted the problems faced by the handicapped student, and said, "KU has a perpetual financial crises due to lack of grants from Higher Education Commission (HEC) and very low fee structure."

He informed that a few days ago, the KU admin initiated a shuttle service for students, which was free for the disabled, but political student organisations created pressure for its closure. He also admitted to a lack of sports activities for handicapped students, and said that the sports director deals with these matters.

Replying to a question about a blind students union, Rizvi said, "I will provide all necessary support and assistance, if they contact me for any trouble."

He also informed that the disabled students can submit admission forms at the department, but many of them are unaware of the exemption.

Separately, KU Registrar Dr Mansoor Ahmed also accepted the existing problems and said he will provide all assistance and approve their due demands, if they approach him. When asked about the number of disabled students enrolled at the university, the registrar asked he would appreciate if he was provided with the requested statistics.

KU Dean of Arts Malahat Kalim Sherwani said, "Braille books are available in the seminar libraries of English Department and Library and Information Science Department (LISD). Also, the LISD is providing blind students with training to operate computer and other basic necessary equipments and things."

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Education boards asked to eliminate cheating practices
Karachi: Chairmen of all education boards in Sindh have been directed to stop the use of unfair means during ongoing examination of SSC part I and II and take effective measures in this regard, said Additional Secretary (Board) Saeed Ahmed Shaikh. He said there were enormous complaints regarding the blatant use of unfair means/ copy culture during on-going matriculation exams which need prompt action by the concerned board authorities. He said that central control room established on the directives of the provincial chief minister was closely monitoring the conduct of examinations and responding immediately to the complaints in any examination centre throughout the province. He further said the law enforcement agencies had been directed to provide security to the candidates, invigilators and other examination staff so that peaceful and fearless atmosphere could be ensured during the examination. Daily times

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15 caught cheating in Class IX exam
Karachi: At least 15 students were caught cheating during their class IX chemistry exams of the Secondary School Certificate on Monday.

The students were caught when Board of Secondary Education Karachi (BSEK) chairman Fasihuddin Khan, secretary Hoor Mazhar and controller of examinations Noman Ahsan made surprise visits to different examination centres.

During their visit to White House Grammar School's Gulshan branch, they caught one girl cheating.

At the Baldia Government Boys Secondary School, they found four boys who were cheating in the exam. Another student was caught cheating at Al-Noor Islamia School in Korangi.

Four boys were caught red-handed at the Allama Iqbal Government Boys Secondary School in Federal B Area.

During the board officials' visit to The Karachi Academy in F.B Area Block 2, they caught five girls cheating in exams.

Their means of cheating - cellphones and notes - were confiscated and their answer sheets were marked with a note from the centre superintendent.

Their cases have been forwarded to the unfair means committee for review.

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704 students caught cheating over a week
Hyderabad: A total of 704 students had been caught using unfair means till Monday in Secondary School Certificate (SSC) Part-I and II examinations since the exams began on April 9, reported monitoring teams of the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE), Hyderabad.

The huge number included 206 cases of copying and 49 cases of impersonating another student, the teams reported to BISE chairman Prof Eng Abdul Aleem Khanzada at a meeting held here on Monday.

Team officials told the meeting that around 115,000 candidates were appearing for SSC part I and II exams in 206 examination centres in nine districts under the jurisdiction of BISE Hyderabad.

They are; Hyderabad, Badin, Matiari, Shaheed Benazirabad, Jamshoro, Dadu, Tando Mohammad Khan, Tando Allahyar and Thatta. The officials stressed on improving security arrangements in examination centres.

Speaking at the meeting, BISE chairman Prof Khanzada expressed his satisfaction over the performance and efficiency of monitoring teams and other staff during examinations which would continue till April 18. He said that it was the responsibility

of examination centres' staff to stop the use of mobile phones and other unfair means during exams.

Mirpurkhas correspondent adds: Candidates appearing for SSC part I and II exams in Umerkot, Tharparkar, Sanghar and Mirpurkhas districts are openly using unfair means despite visits by surveillance teams of the BISE Mirpurkhas.

Instead of discouraging the menace, the invigilation staff at exam centres condone and in most cases even facilitate them in solving their papers.

According to a press release issued by BISE Mirpurkhas on Monday, surveillance teams headed by Prof Abdul Hameed Shaikh had carried out inspection visits at various examination centres and caught many students cheating, including eight copy cases.

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Academic year starts without textbooks
Sukkur: Despite start of new academic session of 2013, the provincial education department and Sindh Textbook Board Jamshoro have failed to provide free books to students.

Earlier, the Sindh government had taken a decision to provide free of cost books to deserving and poor students every year in an attempt to increase enrolment of children in schools.

About 200,000 boys and girls are enrolled in more than 1,300 educational institutions from class-I to class-X in Sukkur district but they are still awaiting supply of books because of what inside sources described as carelessness of the Sindh government and Sindh Textbook Board.

Last year, parents faced a shortage of books and this year there were no books at all. According to sources, school managements have collected books from the students who had moved to higher classes and started the academic session.

On the other hand, to save precious time of their children, parents and teachers are requesting their relatives, friends and philanthropists to extend help in supplying old books.

In case of private school students, parents were compelled to buy costly book from bazaars and markets. They are also facing shortage of books.

District Education Officer Tehsin Soomro told reporters that the schedule of books supply had not been received from the textbook board. He expressed the hope that books would be supplied at the end of April. Dawn

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