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Karachi University BS programme issue

Karachi University in a fix over BS programme
Karachi, Jan 24: Commenting on the outcome of a recent academic council meeting, senior teachers at Karachi University have expressed serious reservations over the way the new academic programmes are being run on the campus.

Opposing the KU's current policy of running two educational systems on the campus, the teachers warned that if the university continued with its 'half-baked policy entirely based on monetary interests', it would not only hurt the future of thousands of students but it would also damage the university's creditability.

The teachers contended that the university's top statutory body on academic matters was consistently ignoring the core issues related to the new academic programmes, which, they said, was launched without necessary homework and under pressure from the Higher Education Commission (HEC) four years ago.

They also opposed the academic council's decision of issuing an equivalence certificate for four-year BS (bachelor of studies) graduates and argued that a bachelor's degree could not be equivalent to a master's and would do little to help students in their career.

"It's a sad reflection on KU officials that they hold an important meeting without providing a working paper to its members in advance along with the meeting agenda.

"We at the KU abolished an old system without adequate brainstorming and are now continuing with the same attitude. This is very unfortunate," said Prof Dr Faiyaz Vaid, chairman of the pharmaceutical chemistry department at the KU and also a member of the KU academic council.

HEC distances itself

The KU is running a four-year BS (bachelor of studies) and two-year master's programme (both derived from the American educational system) in the morning session and the old honours and master's programme (British system of education) in evening classes with the BS system.

The British system ran exclusively and, according to many teachers, successfully, in all public sector universities for many decades in Pakistan till 2004 when the universities were asked by their funding agency, the HEC, to introduce the American system.

Instead of taking into account Pakistan's needs and ground realities, the move was reportedly initiated to fulfil the conditions to get funds for higher education from a foreign donor agency, also responsible for the HEC's birth.However, the official excuse given for introducing the programmes was to bring Pakistani students on a par with their American counterparts.

A major difference between the two systems relates to the number of educational years master's level education is completed in 16 years in the British system while it takes 18 years to complete the same education in the American system where students can acquire a four-year bachelor's degree after high school. An associate degree is awarded if a student decides to quit after two years of education.

Apart from other issues that arose mainly because of a lack of homework on the part of the universities while introducing this programme, the failure of the HEC to decide the right educational level where two additional years could be introduced led to a lot of discrepancies in the system at the university level as private and government colleges in Pakistan continue to offer two-year bachelor's degree after intermediate.

After experiencing a number of problems, many universities partially reverted to the old British system but couldn't discard the American system completely reportedly due to the HEC's insistence as the foreign donor agency has restricted the availability of funds with the continuation of its 'educational reforms'.

After a lot of resistance, the KU adopted the four-year bachelor's and two-year master's programmes in 2007. Now, when the first batch of the four-year BS programme is about to pass out, many concerns relating to the new programmes for four years have once again come into the limelight.

For the time being, the HEC has distanced itself from the controversies and recently informed the KU authorities that "though they had urged the universities to adopt the new system, they never asked to drop the old system," a KU official said.

KU dilemma

A major problem related to the new system is that a student gets a bachelor's degree after 16 years of education (while he or she would be entitled to a master's degree in the old system for the same number of years) or, if the student is a graduate from a college, he would end up receiving double bachelor's degrees.

No government initiative has so far been taken to solve the issue and little awareness exists about the new education system. Meanwhile, public and private sector organisations across the country, including the HEC, continue to ask for candidates with master's in either science or social sciences. This has restricted employment opportunities for BS students.

Currently, the American education system at the KU is largely restricted to morning classes while evening and private students, a major source of income for the university, are still studying under the old system.

"The university is reluctant to adopt one system due to monetary concerns. It must stick to one programme and run it properly," remarked Dr Nasiruddin Khan, senior teacher at the KU's chemistry department.

The old master's programme, he said, in no way was equivalent to the new four-year BS programme and giving an equivalence certificate was not justified.

"We have a very flexible admission criteria for evening students taking admission under the old system as compared to morning students who would further be discriminated when they would get no division but CGP (cumulative grade points), a complicated grading system, and would either be declared 'fail' or 'pass in final results.

Not only does the student evaluation mechanism in both systems is entirely different, the BS students are required to study 10 additional compulsory subjects in four years, which are not required in the old system," he said, adding that BS students could also suffer at the time of employment.

Pointing out the many flaws in the way the BS programme is being run on the KU campus, Dr Shakeel Farouqui, the only teacher who wrote a note of dissent at a university syndicate meeting in 2007 when the new academic programmes were being introduced, said, "The methodology is ridiculous. Major universities of the world run only 10 to 12 BS programmes in major disciplines with the minimum 120 credit hours for each programme while summer session is optional.

"However, every department at the KU has a separate BS programme of 130 credit hours. In the US, the first year of a BS programme starts with 100-level courses while the KU begins with 300-level courses, though many courses are actually of 100-level," he said, adding that both the 'the KU and the HEC were incapable of' running the American system of education.

Other teachers still question the rationale behind introducing the new academic programme and its terminology 'bachelor of studies' and contend that the old system is not an obstacle to studying abroad.

"The term has never been heard of before. It is either bachelor's of arts or science. I and my colleagues, who went abroad for higher studies, faced no problem and were directly given admission to the PhD progamme," says Dr S.M.Taha of the general history department.

Dr Taha was of the opinion that the fundamental flaw at the KU was the lack of a body for academic planning which should do the lobbying and prepare academic council members for a certain task.

Prof Dr Shahana Urooj Kazmi, pro vice chancellor of the KU, admitted that a number of problems were being faced in running the new programmes.

"We are trying to sort out the problems one by one. In response to our letter written to seek advice on the restoration of old programmes, the HEC has told us that both programmes could be run parallel.

"So, it is up to the academic council to decide the future course of action. For the time being, it has been decided to issue an equivalence certificate and create awareness in the media to help BS students avail of employment opportunities."

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KU announces new date of postponed papers
Karachi: University of Karachi Controller Examination has announced the postponed papers of BA Part-I and II (Regular and External) annual examination 2010 and BS Physiotherapy first and second year annual examination 2011 earlier scheduled on January 19, 2011 to be held on January 23, 2011. The exam centres and timings have not been changed. ppi

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Teachers condemn hooliganism at colleges
Karachi: Teachers associations in Sindh have condemned the manhandling of teachers of the Pakistan Ship-owners Government College by "hooligans" of an student group.

The Sindh Professors' Lecturers' Association (SPLA) and other teachers associations observed a black day against what they termed the sad incident. Teachers wore black armbands while discharging their professional duties.

Condemnation meetings were held in the different colleges of the province, in which they slammed the "hooligans backed by a political party" in strongest terms.

Prof Athar Hussain Mirza, Prof Muzafar Ali Rizvi, Prof Ifthkhar Mohammad Azmi and other officer-bearers expressed serious concern over the increasing violence in colleges of the province and asked the government to rein in the violent elements.

They said that the SPLA had informed the director-general colleges about this incident but they had failed to take action against the involved student organization.

The SPLA would hold an emergency meeting on January 22 at the DJ Government Science College Karachi to discuss the sad state of affairs and chalk out a strategy of saving college teachers from manhandling of hooligans.

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Three-day workshop commences at SSUET
Karachi: The Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET) initiated a three-day workshop on the campus to teach students how to write resume and improve their interview skills. The workshop was organised by the SSUET Quality Enhancement Cell, a press release issued on Sunday said.

"With the right skills, you are valuable. Without good skills relevant to future needs, you risk your employability and your marketability. When your vision is clear, you must commit to learn skills and develop capabilities to fulfill your vision to make it real," Convenor Aligarh Institute of Technology and Member of SSUET Board of Governors, Engineer Adil Usman said.

He also called for translating the vision into opportunities for new life direction with skills for jobs, work or assignment.

"Your skills, competence and capabilities are the currency of your future," Engr Usman stated.

The Registrar of the SSUET, Shah Mahmood H Syed, said that the university is committed to providing quality education.

He emphasised meaningful interaction of the university with industry regarding opportunities of employment for the SSUET students.

"Your performance is the measurable value you add to any workforce. If you are delivering measurable value significantly greater than what it would cost to employ you, you are more likely to be rewarded with opportunity," Professor Dr Najeeb Siddiqui advised the students. The news

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SU admission test
Hyderabad: The University of Sindh conducted test for admission to MBA executive, BBA and LLM at its Model School here on Sunday.

As many as 134 candidates appeared in the test for admission to BBA, 81 for admission to MBA executive and 18 for admission to LLM. Dawn

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'Govt primary schools for boys need more teachers'
Karachi: The public sector boys' primary schools need more teachers to improve the current teacher-student ratio throughout Pakistan. This would help in increasing the quality of education at these schools, a member of the non-government organisation, Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEEN) said.

As part of FAFEEN Education Institution Monitor, the team has visited and monitored the conditions of the government schools across the country to maintain records. The data was collected and after analysing facts and figures, it was released on January 14, 2011 for the public interest and authority concerned, he said.

The FAFEEN monitoring team had conducted district-wise survey and visited 121 public sector boys' primary schools. According to the facts gathered from 121 government boys' primary schools, only 743 teachers were available for a total of 25,794 enrolled students.

During the survey, which was started in November 2010, an average of one teacher is available for every 35 enrolled students in the schools visited by the team. The monitoring team visited 32 schools in 21 districts of Sindh while they covered 52 schools in 29 districts of the Punjab, whereas 27 in 18 districts of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa (KP), were also monitored, eight institutes in seven districts of Balochistan and two in two agencies of Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) were also observed, he said.

As per FAFEEN's finding, a nationwide teacher-student ratio is 1:35. In Sindh and Balochistan one teacher is available for 27 enrolled students and it was comparatively good as compared to other provinces.

While gathering information of the appointment of the teaching and non-teaching staff against allowed posts, several schools withheld information and at least 62 schools did not provide the data about their staff. It was relatively difficult to collect proper information from the institutes visited by the FAFEEN monitoring team, he added.

FAFEEN has also learnt that major facilities like playgrounds, classrooms for teachers, sanitary staff, security guards, peons and staff rooms were not present in every visited school across the country. Although playgrounds are considered being an essential facility around 70 per cent of the visited institutions did not have such option for the students of government boys' primary schools. The news

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BSEK's marks sheets ready for collection
Karachi: The Board of Secondary Education Karachi (BSEK) has announced here that the mark sheets of the candidates of SSC Supplementary Examination 2010, Science and General Group are ready for collection. According to a notification of the Board received here on Sunday, marks sheets of the candidates of SSC Supplementary Examination 2010 Science and General Group (Regular) shall be ready for collection from Jan 24, 2011. All the heads of recognised secondary school have further been requested to send their representative with authority letter to collect them from the Board office. app

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Students claim making gasifier to convert coal into gas
Hyderabad: Students of the Mehran University of Engineering and Technology in collaboration with the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research have designed a gasifier to produce Syngas from Thar coal, says a press release issued by the university.

It said the gasifier would be used for high quality research in the field of energy resource development, using variety of solid fuels, including coal and other solid fuels.

The gasifier plant put together at the PCSIR's Karachi laboratory had gone through test phase and was commissioned at the MUET's Jamshoro campus, it said.

Test runs had given promising results and showed the plant would not only help researchers but also provide valuable information to stakeholders for proper and efficient utilisation of Thar Coal, said the release.

Syngas (synthetic gas or synthesis gas) is the direct end-product of the gasification process. Its energy density is only about 50 per cent that of natural gas.In a purified state, the hydrogen component of Syngas can be used to directly power hydrogen fuel cells for electricity generation but is mainly used as an intermediary building block for the final production (synthesis) of various fuels such as synthetic natural gas, methanol and synthetic petroleum fuel (dimethy ether synthesised gasoline and diesel fuel).

The project for the gasifier was carried out by final year students of chemical engineering, G. Mustafa, Musawar Ahsan, Ashiq Ali, Lal Chand, Prem Chand and Arshad Iqbal under supervision of Dr Shaheen Aziz (research group leader), Suhail A. Soomro and K.M. Qureshi.

The PCSIR team was headed by Razia Begum with Dr. Aalia Bano, M. Adil and Dr. Akhtar Sharif as its members.

The project was an initiative taken by heat transfer and combustion sub-group of energy and environment research group headed by Prof. Dr. M. Aslam Uqaili, pro-vice chancellor of the MUET.

The research group aims to give solution to energy crises in the country, which can be overcome through efficient use of indigenous resources, said the release.

Thar coal can easily fulfil growing energy requirements of the country and for proper utilisation of Thar coal, proper indigenous technology must be developed for sustainable development, it said.

The MUET had set up research facilities at its campus, which would throw up new possibilities for researchers to find out the most appropriate means of utilising Thar coal, it said. The research results would also provide valuable data that could be used for designing indigenous gasifiers on a large scale to produce energy, said the release.

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LUMHS to launch water project
Hyderabad: The Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences (LUMHS) will undertake a water supply project for the flood-hit village of Unnarpur, Jamshoro district, to improve quality and increase quantity of drinking water for 7,000 villagers.

This was announced by LUMHS Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Noshad A. Shaikh during a visit to the village where villagers said they urgently needed rehabilitation of water supply system.

The vice-chancellor said that the project would cost Rs2.5 million and added that the Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America (APPNA) would donate Rs1.7 million for it and the university would provide the remaining amount.

The water testing and surveillance laboratory of the LUMHS collected 12 water samples. Out of them four were found fit for drinking as per WHO standards while eight others had high rate of total dissolved solids and thus were not fit for consumption.

Meanwhile, the third free medical camp organised by the LUMHS in Unnarpur provided treatment and preventive care to the residents of the village and 10 other villages of the surrounding area. Hepatitis B vaccination of 250 individuals was also carried out.

TRAINING: The LUMHS has started training of junior urologists to upgrade their skills in percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PNCL) surgery for removal of stone from the kidney.

The surgery is being performed at the LUMHS's Minimal Invasive Surgical Centre (MISC).

Professor Shafiqur Rehman Memon, the acting chairman of the department of Urology, organised a hands-on training workshop at the MISC where Dr Zafar Zaidi and Dr Asif Raza, a visiting consultant from UK, performed surgery for training of junior urologists. Dawn

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