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PMDC exempted Afghan students from entrance test

PMDC forgets past lesson: 'Unwarranted' exemption to Afghan students
Lahore, Dec 28: Refusing to learn from its past mistake, the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PMDC) has exempted Afghanistan students from entrance test or Scholastic Aptitude Test (Part-II) examination for the session 2011-12 under the Prime Minister's Scholarship Scheme.

This holds them eligible for admission to public-sector medical colleges of the country, raising questions about discrimination with the local aspirants.

The decision is learnt to have been taken at the 119th general council meeting of the PMDC in the light of the prime minister's directions to "win Afghan hearts and minds" by offering better educational facilities, an official said. The meeting was held in Islamabad on Dec 22 last.

It is ironic that the decision is against the PMDC Regulations of 2010, which say that entrance test or SAT is mandatory for the foreign students to get admissions. Worse, this is the second attempt of giving exemption to the foreign nationals from the minimum criteria of examinations for admissions to the country's public-sector medical institutions.

In the previous experience, the PMDC had to face resistance from the Pakistan Medical Association and other stakeholders.

Presided over by Prof Sibtul Hasnain, the meeting was attended by 65 PMDC members including Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, vice chancellors, principals and heads of medical and health institutions from all over the country.

The source said the PMDC had granted one-time exemption to the Afghan medical students from the examinations by relaxing its rules on the instructions of Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani who directed the authorities to materialise the proposal through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Dr Khalid Hussain Memon, director Afghan Trade and Development Cell of the ministry, has sent a letter to the PMDC regarding exemption of entrance test for Afghan nationals. In the letter of Dec 2, a copy of which is available with Dawn, Dr Khalid apprised the council that "the Afghan students who are selected for scholarships under the PM Scholarship
Scheme may not be judged by our higher educational standards and therefore PMDC is requested to grant them waiver/exemption from entrance test for admission to the medical and dental institutions in Pakistan."

In another letter of Dec 9, he again asked the PMDC that "the Prime Minister had been pleased to announce 200 scholarships in various disciplines for Afghan nationals to build their capacity in education. The Afghan students come from all provinces of Afghanistan where scant educational facilities exist due to prolonged war.

"Pakistan is making efforts to win Afghan hearts and minds by offering better educational facilities so that these students do not prefer other neighboring countries over Pakistan.

With the help of PMDC we hope we can make the Prime Minister's scheme a success."

The letter further said, "Foregoing in view, it is requested that one year entry test exemption for year 2011-12 may please be granted as a special case. We shall endeavour to prepare the students to meet the desired criteria for the coming years in coordination with and guidance of the PMDC."

Earlier, the council had given similar relaxation to 63 foreign students in September 2010 on the intervention of the EAD and directed the Punjab government to admit these students to its medical institutions, which had stirred agitation among the medical community as well as students.

The action was taken on the repeated requests of embassies of 19 countries, which continued to exert pressure on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan "to relax its laws" and accommodate their 63 students without entrance test or SAT-II exam. Dawn

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Name: Abdulsatar
City, Country: Peshaewer, Pakistan

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Evening students likely to get laptops
Lahore: The Punjab government is contemplating the possibility of including evening programme students for the free distribution of laptops under the Chief Minister's youth empowerment initiative.

The government has also decided in principle not to provide free laptops to all those individuals enrolled in PhD programme who are employed at government or private organizations and are drawing salaries.

A preliminary meeting in this regard was held at the Punjab Higher Education Department here on Monday. The meeting, chaired by Minister for Education Mujtaba Shuja ur Rehman, was attended by Higher Education secretary Dr Ijaz Munir, the P&D Department representatives and other officials.

The meeting discussed the subject in detail but could not reach any policy decision, except agreeing to collect data of students enrolled in evening programmes at public sector colleges and universities across the province as the first step.

According to the Punjab government's criteria, students of BS (Hon) MA, MSc, LLB, MBA of public sector colleges and universities who obtained 60 percent marks in last annual examination or 70 percent marks in last semester; students of public sector engineering universities and medical colleges who obtained 60 percent marks in last annual examination or 70 percent marks in last semester; all registered students of PhD, MS, LLM and MPhil and top hundred students of the matriculation examination of each the board of intermediate and secondary education (BISE) were eligible for free laptops.

The government has allocated about four billion rupees for distribution of free laptops among 100,000 students enrolled in public colleges and universities across the province. It is pertinent to mention that, while many people have been appreciating the Chief Minister's laptop initiative, there are also those who term the same a political stunt to attract youth in the rapidly changing political landscape of the country.

For the last couple of days, a number of students from the Punjab University (PU), enrolled in evening programmes, have been demanding through protest demonstrations that students of evening programmes should also be provided the facility of free laptops.

Sources said the participants in the meeting were of the view that, since evening programmes were offered on almost self supporting basis, it was quite difficult to find out deserving students from among them.

They, however, agreed to collect data of all the evening programme students to know how many of them were eligible for the laptops. If the number of such students is not very high, a summary will be moved to the Chief Minister, Punjab, to include such students in the scheme, the meeting decided.

When contacted, Minister for Education Mujtaba Shuja ur Rehman said that a final decision was yet to be taken regarding inclusion of evening programmes' students in the scheme. However, he added, it had been decided to collect data of such students.

Higher Education secretary Dr Ijaz Munir said regular students enrolled in evening programmes in institutes where such programmes were launched at par with morning programme and did not fall in category of self supporting programmes would be considered for the scheme.

He confirmed that the department had received lists of over 91,000 students from the colleges and universities, adding that the department would now verify these lists and exclude all such individuals enrolled in PhD programme who were employed in government or private organizations and were drawing salaries. Dr Ijaz Munir added that the date for registration had been increased from December 31, 2011 to January 10, 2012.

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PU convocation
Lahore: Punjab University's Vice-Chancellor visited the university's Faisal Auditorium on its New Campus here on Tuesday to review the arrangements for the varsity's 120th convocation to be held on Saturday, December 31.

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PU girl students stage demo
Lahore: A number of female students from Punjab University's Department of Political Science on Monday staged a protest demonstration against the examination branch for allegedly unjustly declaring them fail and not correcting the results.

Carrying posters and placards, the female students staged the demo outside the Lahore Press Club and alleged that they were declared fail in the subject of Ideology unjustly and when the issue was brought to the notice of the exam branch, nothing was done to address the issue.

The students alleged that errors were made in the preparation of their results but no one was ready to accept responsibility in this regard. The students demanded the authorities to look into the matter and resolve the issue at the earliest.

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Political appointees cause of PU trouble: VC
Lahore: Vice Chancellor Punjab University Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran said faculty members, who were appointed on political basis were a real hurdle in progress of the varsity.

Inaugurating polymer and material research laboratories here at the Department of Polymer Engineering & Technology on Monday, as per a press release, he added PU had the potential to become one of the top 500 universities of the world but it was facing problems due to such faculty members for whom merit was sidelined. He said such people distort reality, adding the university must get rid of culture of speaking lies and negative politics for development. He said disturbance happened where teachers on senior positions were involved in politics. Moreover, he said, the number of PhD faculty members in the varsity had been increased and it enhanced capacity of the faculty to utilize research funding. Later, the VC and others also visited the laboratories and inspected experimental instruments there.

It is pertinent to mention here that PU Academic Staff Association (PUASA) has recently circulated pamphlets among faculty members and media alleging that tenure of Dr Mujahid Kamran as PU VC would be remembered as the "darkest" period in the history of the varsity. ASA had termed Dr Mujahid's claims regarding increase in research funding as totally baseless. It is obvious that Dr Mujahid Kamran's statements issued on Monday are in reply to PUASA's allegations against him.

GCU wins UET contest: The Government College University (GCU) has won the Brainiac 2011 Speed Programming Competition organized by the University of Engineering and Technology Lahore's Al-Khawazmi Institute of Computer Sciences on the concluding day of the 5th International Conference on Open-Source Systems and Technologies.

As many as 255 students from all over the country took part in the competition which was won by the GCU Computer Sciences Department team comprising Muhammad Saqib Ali, Ajmal Ismail and Kiran Sarfraz. The Punjab University College of Information and Technology (PUCIT) stood second in the competition. GCU Vice Chancellor Prof Muhammad Khaleeq-ur-Rahman has congratulated the university's Computer Sciences Department students on their achievement.

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Punjab teachers warn of strike
Lahore: Punjab Teacher Union (PTU) warned on Tuesday that if practical steps were not taken by the authorities concerned to address the grievances of teachers, it could have disastrous results.

In a press release, PTU central president Sajjad Akbar Kazmi, Ch Sarfaraz, Rana Liaquat, and others called on Secretary Schools Punjab Mohammad Aslam Kamboh and apprised him of problems being faced by the schoolteachers.

They briefed the secretary about the decisions taken by PTU's central leadership about issues faced by the Punjab teachers and miserable attitude of district officers towards them. They were of the view that neither service promotion had been given to them for the last several years nor the teacher package 2010 had been implemented.

They regretted that teachers were being victimised due to lack of students' attendance. They were of the view that examination system of the PEC was ridiculing teacher fraternity. The PTU representatives also alleged that in many districts, EDOs were involved in corruption and the time had come to initiate action against them. They said in such circumstances teachers could not remain silent and would go on strike if their grievances were not addressed.

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Poultry industry seeks UVAS help
Lahore: Pakistan Poultry Association (PPA) has asked the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences to conduct research on diseases affecting poultry and update poultry farmers IN this connection.

At a meeting here at UVAS on Tuesday, PPA members said the poultry industry was being affected by contagious and fatal viral diseases like newcastle, H9 avian influenza and infectious bursal disease. They said the diseases were killing poultry and adversely affecting farmer's income. Dr Munir Ahmad Sahi said newcastle and avian influenza persisted in extreme weather conditions twice a year.

He said that poultry workers lacked poultry management skills and henhouse infrastructures were not proper. He suggested that UVAS should conduct refresher poultry courses and training workshops in this regard.

Director UVAS Diagnostic Laboratory Prof Dr Masood Rabbani said PPA should collaborate with the university in collection of suitable sample which would be used for ongoing international funded research projects on newcastle disease.

He further said the monitoring of flocks and good management practices were must to get rid of poultry diseases. Vice Chancellor UVAS Prof Dr Talat Naseer Pasha said the university would provide technical support to the poultry industry to address its problems and challenges. He said linkages between farmers and poultry scientists were a must to overcome the problems.

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GCU library society body set up
Lahore: The 13th executive-body of the Government College University's Library Society was formed on Tuesday for academic session 2010-11 here.

Vice Chancellor GCU Prof Dr Muhammad Khaleeq ur Rahman administrated oath to new office-bearers at a ceremony. Chief Librarian GCU Abdul Waheed was also present on the occasion.

Syed Atif Hussain has been appointed Library Society President, Abdul Munim (vice president boys), Ummar Amin (vice president females), Anum Jamil (assistant vice president), Usman Zamurrad Khan (general secretary), Faiza Khaleel (joint secretary) and Attiya Khan (finance secretary).

Speaking on the occasion, the VC appreciated efforts made by the students of Library Society to organize several lectures, exhibitions, book fairs and seminars for promotion of booking reading among students.

GCU wins contest: The Government College University's Debating Society has clean swept the All Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Urdu speech contest. According to a press statement, the orators from 40 educational institutions took part in the contest. The GCU's Ali Abid stood first while Adnan Farooq of the university secured the second position.

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UHS institute of research
Lahore: Vice Chancellor, University of Health Sciences (UHS), Prof. Dr. Malik Hussain Mubbashar has said the university is all set to establish a state-of-the-art Institute of Research Excellence with the support of the Punjab government in a bid to revolutionise basic medical sciences' research.

He was addressing at a seminar on "Cancer Stem Cells" organised by the UHS on Tuesday. Prof Mubbashar further said the university was developing a cohort of young scientists which would be trained at top ranking universities of the world.

He said that recently University of Liverpool, UK, under an agreement with the UHS and agreed to offer 10 PhD scholarships to Pakistani students in the fields of cancers, obesity, genetics, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, biomedical engineering and neuro-sciences. He said the institute would be established on Kala Shah Kaku campus of the university for which the Punjab government would provide funds.

Earlier, delivering a lecture on cancer stem cells, Director Laboratory of Viral Oncology and Proteomics Research, University of South California, Los Angeles, USA, Prof. Suraiya Rasheed said that stem cells were present in human tissue. During early stages of development, they created all organs in the body including brain, heart, bones, muscles and blood. In adults, those cells were important for repairing the damaged tissues, she said added that mutations in some of these cells due to environmental or genetic factors could change those cells into different types of cancers.

Prof. Rasheed further said that stem cells could be used to screen and test new drugs. "They are being tested to repair damaged tissues or create new tissues for patients awaiting organ transplantation through tissue engineering", she informed.

She added that stem cells could be used to create new bone marrows for people suffering from leukaemia. Prof. Rasheed was of the view that basic medical research into functions of stem cells could provide insight into how these cells worked and how they might be able to combat diseases. The lecture was attended by medical professionals and researchers. The news

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