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Year 2008, gloomy year for education sector

2008 proves to be gloomy year for education sector
Lahore, Dec 30: educational institutions, teachers and students faced various problems due to shortage of funds and energy crisis in 2008.

The year saw students on roads fighting for their rights and other problems in the education sector in Punjab.

January: The year started with a wave of terror, as academic activities were disturbed due to a suicide blast at GPO Chowk on January 11. Low attendance was observed in the institutions, and students and teachers feared security risks inside schools and colleges. Students were already disturbed due to the assassination of Pakistan People's Party chairwoman Benazir Bhutto, and were simultaneously participating in protests for the restoration of the judiciary.

February: In February, private schools issued a 22-point Charter of Demand to the government. The All Pakistan Private Schools Welfare Association (APPSWA) issued the charter, demanding the government solve the problems.

During this month, university teachers from across the province protested several times against former Punjab governor Lt Gen (r) Khalid Maqbool after he forced some teachers charged with plagiarism to retire.

March: A five-day LUMS Olympiad was held on March 4, participated by students from across the country, but a bomb blast on at the Pakistan Navy War College shook the city once again, creating an environment of fear. Panic griped the city on March 11 after another blast at the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) building and another one in Model Town Society, as many students of Sacred Heart School, Saint Anthony's High School, and Cathedral Public School were killed and injured in the incident. Following this, the school administrations announced holidays and security at schools became an issue.

April: After Prime Minster Yousuf Raza Gilani announced to lift the ban on students unions, students openly resumed their activities at colleges and universities, but the teaching community opposed the decision. Traditional union politics started and the MAO College was closed for some time after an incident of gunfight between two unions.

May: Hundreds of Kinnarid College students protested against the varsity administration in first week of May for revising their fee structure. The Punjab University remained closed for four days from May 12 to stop the Islami Jamiat Talaba from holding a parallel book fair. The PU administration held a book fair and called on heavy security to stop IJT from taking over the event, which also disturbed the academic environment of the university.

June: Load shedding touched its peak in June, due to which students faced immense problems in preparing for their examinations. The students of various institutions also protested against load shedding.

Later, students of the Lahore College for Women University (LCWU) Designs and Visual Arts Department protested against Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Bushra Mateen who wanted to hold their viva exam again. The students also approached the chancellor, Governor Salmaan Taseer to get the issue resolved.

July: The worst episode for the public sector universities of the country was the 'financial crunch' that took place as the Federal Finance Ministry refused to release the Higher Education Commission's (HEC) fourth quarterly instalment of development and recurring grant of over Rs 8 billion.

A big plan of 'Tenure Track System' flopped in various public sector universities following the crunch, and the plans of raising employees' salaries and sending students on foreign scholarships also had to be shelved.

August: Matriculation, intermediate and BA/BSC results were declared in August. The percentage of result of FA and BA/ BSc was comparatively lower than the previous year and students and teachers blamed load shedding for it.

However, many students rejoiced and distribute sweets on the departure of former president Pervez Musharraf in this month.

September: More than 20,000 students from across the Punjab sat for the admissions test of public and private medical colleges on September 4, and students of O and A levels also protested against Inter Board Committee of Chairmen (IBCC) on its equivalence formula for the admission to medical colleges.

On September 21, a bag containing ammunition, hand grenades and Kalashnikovs was found at the PU. The US and UK visa centres were also closed in this month following security risks, due to which students going abroad for higher education suffered.

October: In October, 1,862 FSc students from Punjab were declared eligible for admission to nine public colleges, while students of A and O levels continued their protests.

November: A number of intuitions in the city started campaigns for the relief of the victims of Balochistan earthquake.

Students also protested at various corners of the city after the announcement of PU Examination Department to hold BA/BSc Examination 2009 a month prior to the previously scheduled date.

Forman Christian College University (FCCU) Commencement 2008 and GCU's convocations were held in last week of the month.

December: In first week of the month, students of 17 universities of the province participated in the first 'Munir Niazi Award' at the Governor's House and presented their poetry. IJT activists in PU opened fire on the University Students Federation activists, injuring seven students.

The third BNU and 116th PU convocations were held, in which Governor Salmaan Taseer distributed degrees and awards among the graduates. Daily Times

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Khyber Medical University MBBS exams from Jan 12
Peshawar: Khyber Medical University has made an announcement for suspension of supplementary examinations of MBBS and BDS final year scheduled to be held on 1st of January of the new year in respect of Muharram. A press release issued by the spokesman of university on Monday, said the supplementary examinations of MBBS and BDS final year scheduled to be held simultaneously in Khyber Medical College Peshawar, Ayub Medical College, Abbotabad ,Sado Medical College Swat, Gomal Medical College Dera Ismail Khan and Khyber Medical College of Dentistry on the 1st of January 2009 were suspended. These examinations would now be held on January 12, the press release concluded. Afp

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CM promises to investigate PU hostel shooting
Lahore: The government will provide full protection to students and no one will be allowed to adversely affect the academic atmosphere in educational institutions, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Monday.

He was talking to a group of students after delivering his presidential address at a three-day international conference at Punjab University (PU). He said it was the government's responsibility to establish a peaceful academic atmosphere in all public sector educational institutions.

Students' protest: United Students Federation (USF) members present at the campus protested against the Islami Jamiat Talaba and chanted slogans. The USF demanded the chief minister grant them justice, as the assailants who fired and tortured students at hostel number 16 on November 3 had not been arrested. They complained the first information report filed against them had not been investigated. Upon hearing this, the CM announced to establish a commission for thorough investigation of the incident, and vowed to arrest those involved.

He said no one was above the law, adding that culprits will be brought to justice irrespective of their status.

International conference: Addressing the conference titled 'History, Politics and Society: The Punjab', Shahbaz said the Punjab government has allocated a high priority to educational reforms, provision of healthcare facilities and quick dispensation of justice to the masses.

Thirty research papers would be reviewed at the conference by national and foreign scholars.

He appreciated the efforts of PU Vice Chancellor Dr Mujahid Kamran and History Department Chairman Qalbe Abid for organising an international conference. He hoped this moot would help highlight Punjab's importance and glory in the region, adding that government had set aside 10 percent of its annual budget for education reforms. Dr Kamran said the chief minister's presence at the conference showed his commitment to education and research. Dr Abid highlighted the objectives of the conference and hoped it would host fruitful discussion and meaningful analyses.

Earlier, David Gilmartin from North Carolina State University said the rule of law was of utmost importance in the British-ruled Punjab as well as in the Pakistani Punjab. Daily Times

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