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Allama Iqbal open University staff wages

We wish there were no holidays
Islamabad, Feb 20: The reluctance of Allama Iqbal University (AIOU) administration to disclose the actual number of daily wagers has forced Employees Welfare Association (EWA) to start their volunteer registration currently working in different departments.

It was earlier estimated that around 450 daily wagers are working with AIOU but a huge gathering of them on Friday leads to another estimate that their number must be around one thousand.

They gathered in the university's auditorium listening to the EWA's leadership. "EWA was asking for a little contribution of Rs 20-30 for printing of banners in favour of our own demands but I did not raise my hand because it is difficult for me to spare even this smaller amount since I need it for van fare," says Asadullah Awan, who earns Rs 283 per day on attendance base.

Malik Saeed, the EWA president, said, "A lower division cleric (LDC), Malik Abrar, was shown the door after 13 years of service as a daily wager when he could not make it to office for seven days due to heart attack."

A copy of the contract reveals highly discriminatory terms and conditions for daily wagers. The first clause of the contract reads: "The appointment will be purely of occasional nature, terminable at any time without any notice and/or any reason thereof."

"Even an illiterate gardener might be told the reason of his termination but despite obtaining graduation degree, I can be fired without knowing the reason behind it," Shamasur Rehman, an LDC, lamented.

Clause 4 of contract further fuel financial insecurity of daily wagers in an unprecedented manner as it reads: "The Audit Officer will release payment only on production of certificate of actual attendance along with the claim."

"I wish there were no holidays either on religious or national account. The month of February of 2010 will consume seven days, since out of 28 days there are four Sundays. A day was eaten up by Kashmir Day and another would be by Rabiul-Awwal," Saeed Bashir, a daily wager, said.

Sher Asif Satti, EWA general secretary, said daily wagers suffered while others prayed and celebrated religious rituals.

The EWA president said if President Asif Ali Zardari did not pay heed to regularization of daily wagers, the EWA would be forced to stage protests.

The government has established a review board headed by Senator Raza Rabani to analyse the regularization policy. Recently, the government has regularized 4,000 workers of Civil Aviation Authority. Daily times

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Education vital to economic uplift
Islamabad: Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani Friday said that being a developing country Pakistan should go a long way to meet international standards of education and to groom young people to understand the diversity of the global environment.

The prime minister said that education plays a pivotal role in the development of any economy. "Pakistan needs qualified engineers and effective managers, who can sincerely put in their best efforts to improve the technological and industrial output," he said.

Gilani said that providing education to every citizen was a mammoth task, and the government is making all out efforts to increase the literacy rate. However, those who are literate must understand their role as responsible citizens who can participate effectively in the formal and informal events of society to increase the social capital of the country.

"The role that some of our institutes of higher learning like Air University are playing to meet these standards is commendable both in terms of maintaining their religious and cultural identity, as well as respecting global values and traditions," He said: "We must become a self-reliant nation.

For this a viable route is to begin by collaborating with advanced countries to develop the technological expertise in our own country. This way we wouldn't just be cutting down on our expenses, but in the long run will also be able to export this technology to other developing countries.

" He added that it is for this reason that the government is collaborating with Chinese friends in various fields, including defence, of which production of JF-17 Thunder Aircraft is an example.

He said that universities impart and create knowledge and today knowledge supplants land, labour and capital. "Knowledge about the latest technologies, about the latest research, and contribution to these sectors, can help Pakistan to move forward," he said, adding that our reliance on the developed countries for advanced knowledge and technology adversely affects our economy, since major portion of that goes into its import.

He said that the Air University is contributing to the national growth with its 538 graduates in the disciplines of engineering and management sciences. "It is commendable that more than 1,000 students graduated today in contrast with its first convocation in September 2007 in which a total of 468 students were conferred degrees," he said.

The names of the gold medalists in various disciplines included Salman Jefferi, Mansoor Ahsan, Sana Lodhi, Zeeshan Hameed, Hassan Wajahat Hussain, Hameed Waseem, Mohammad Awaise, Tahir Hussain, Syed Mohammad Husnain Kazmi, Mohammad Shoaib, Naseem Mohammad, Awaise Chaudhry, Mishal Aftab, Payar Ali and Khadija Kanwal.

The silver medalists in various disciplines included Sahar Usman, Kanwal Shahzadi, Hamad Maqsood, Uzma Mushtaq, Sundus Amin, Adil Zaman Babar, Mohammad Ameer Hamza Khan, Tahseen Akhtar, Zahra Nadeem, Syed Husnain Raza and Saiqa Kanwal.

Air University Vice Chancellor (VC) Ijaz Ahmed Malik, on the occasion, presented the university report. He said that it has a current enrolment of 10,977 students, including 10,645 under-graduates. He said that as many as 333 students were studying in the university's postgraduate programmes, 1,016 were studying in its MS programmes, 108 in MBA, while six were doing PhD.

Highlighting the problems faced by the university, he said that non-availability of proper space for the setting up of laboratories and hostel facilities was a hindrance in imparting quality education to the fullest.

The government had announced 78 acres of land in Sector H-11/2 for the establishment of a new campus, but the Capital Development Authority (CDA) is demanding Rs1.5 million for its acquisition.

Being a private-public sector academic institution, the Air University cannot pay this huge amount, he added.

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Froebel's School activities
Rawalpindi: Taking a break from its scholastic routine, Froebel's International School celebrated a day filled with colour, energy, music and excitement, and featuring a range of athletic activities that were brought to life by the institution's youngest category of students here on Friday.

Dedicated to encourage sports and play among the Early Years' students, the occasion started with the chief guest declaring the athletic activity open. Mahrush, a confident and brilliant student of grade prep, administrated the oath. Soon, a flock of beautiful pigeons and a huge bunch of vibrant coloured balloons were released into the air amidst 'ooos' and 'aaahs' from the excited audience as they enjoyed the breathtaking scene.

The first event was the parade. It was a real joy watching the proud little kids march up and down with an air of grace and determination. They stamped hard and had their moves perfectly coordinated. Aerobic activities were next in line. The students of Early Years amazed the audience with their confident jumps and sprints. They danced boldly to the fast-paced music and a huge wave of thunderous applause flowed through the crowd.

The excitement reached its peak with the race event. First up were the three year-olds from playgroup. They sprinted, trotted, jumped and skipped in colourful props and with enthusiastic energy. The air rang with applause from proud parents and other onlookers.

The kinder gardeners too were frivolous and perky, enjoying their Party Race, Robot Race and other colorful contests. Girls were looking pretty and trendy as they sped up to dress for the Party Race and boys felt brave and bold in their hi-tech robotic costumes. Parents were contended and the overall environment was bright and vibrant with balloons, props, streamers and flags.

The last group of races was conducted for the prep grade. These little kids were determined to win and enjoy the event. The favorite among the audience went the Doctor Race, followed by the Costume Race dominated by Barbie dolls, Spider Men and Bat Men.

The teachers had put in a lot of effort to arrange mixed events between the Red and Yellow teams. Each team consisted of players from the whole Early Years' section. These events consisted of a flashy and prismatic floral display, which ended with the audience wanting more. Other fun challenges were Stepping Tails, Stepping Balloons and Tug of War. These matches showed awesome power display but the overall winner was the Red Team. The participants appeared content and at ease with their surroundings during the Discus Throw and Javelin Throw contests as well.

For the sake of fun and amusement, the teachers, mothers and fathers also participated in special races and contests arranged for them. This time, it was the children's turn to clap and cheer on their moms and dads. And then again, it was the parents' turn to cheer and encourage their kids as the prize distribution started. Some kids walked smartly, some blushed, some felt shy and some bold as they all proudly received their medals and prizes.

The applause was the loudest at this time of the day, and thus a colourful and bright day ended on a high note. The hard work of the teachers paid off in the form of words of commendation showered upon them by the proud parents and contended head and principal.

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Annual Mehfil-e-Milad
Rawalpindi: The Federal Government Postgraduate College for Women, Kashmir Road, organised its annual 'Mehfil-e-Milad' at the Begum Salma Masud Auditorium here on Friday.

Principal Shaista Zaid was the chief guest on the occasion. Decently and elegantly decorated stage and students covering their heads with green 'dupattas' created the right kind of ambience on the occasion.

The 'Mehfil-e-Milad' commenced with the recitation of Qur'aanic verses by Afshan Shaheen and 'Hamd' by Zainab Bint-e-Shaheen. Irum Shabbir, Ayesha Nazir, Zara Tamrez, Fareeha Mursaleen, Samna Kanwal, Tayaba Naeem, Shehla Javed, Fakhr-un-Nisa, Misbah Khanum, Afshan Shaheen, Amna Shabbir, Anam Dar and Zainab Bint-e-Shaheen presented 'Naats' with utmost reverence and devotion, which moved the hearts of all present on the occasion.

Nusra Fayaz, Tahreem and Hafsa Bint-e-Rafique paid rich tributes to the Holy Prophet Hazrat Mohammad (peace be upon him) highlighting different facets of his life and personality.

'Darood-e-Pak' was presented with religious zeal and fervour all through the 'Milad Sharif.' The 'Mehfil-e-Milad' concluded with 'Salaam' and 'Dua' offered by Misbah Khanum, Irum Shabbir, Afshan Shaheen and Zainab Bint-e-Shaheen.

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German Cultural Club
Islamabad: The teaching and learning of German language will now be a part of the Roots School System's curriculum under the German Language Programme initiated in collaboration with The Goethe Institute.

The initiative will facilitate Rootsians in acquiring bilingual skills to avail opportunities available in German universities for higher education, youth camps, student and teacher exchange programmes and better career opportunities for staff and students.

Roots School System also officially launched German Cultural Club at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) recently in which German Ambassador Dr. Michael Koch and Mehrein Qureshi, wife of Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, were the guests of honour.

Mehrein encouraged the latest trend of learning different languages and acquiring fluency in them, and hoped that more schools and embassies would recognise the importance of teaching other languages.

The German Cultural Club would encourage the aesthetic aspect to be developed in all genres, be it poetry, dance, music or painting. The club would hold one major event every month and publish a newsletter to highlight the events.

Coordinator Pash Programme, Germany, Mrs Evelyn Singh, while speaking on the occasion, said there are certain skills needed to succeed in the world and one of them is learning a language. The Roots School has become one of the 1,500 partner schools in this initiative as a result of an MoU signed between the Roots School System and The Goethe Institute in August 2009.

She said since German language is widely spoken in Europe there is a need to explore its literature, philosophy, science and technology. Learning the language would not limit itself to the classroom, instead it would open new vistas for the students. Evelyn Singh announced that summer camps would be held again this year, funded by the Foreign Office, both at the teacher and student level.

Director Roots School System Khadija Omair said the purpose of establishing the German Cultural Club is to provide an intercultural understanding of similarities and differences between Pakistan and Germany, adding that emphasis on the German language is given in order to establish a multicultural integration at a larger scale.

A Grand Cultural Fiesta, in which the students presented traditional dances of both the countries, was highly appreciated by the parents and guests present on the occasion. The students also sang popular Pakistani and German songs, holding flags of the two countries, integrating our culture and displaying unity. Students of the German language class, clad in traditional German dresses, performed a Bavarian dance.

Later, Dr. Michael Koch and Mehrein Qureshi awarded badges to the German Cultural Club office-bearers, while school mementos were presented to the guests of honour. The news

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