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Pakistan Madrassah reforms in 2011

No progress on Madrassah reforms in 2011
Lahore, Jan 02: Another year has passed without any tangible progress with regard to streamlining the much talked about Madrassah education which has been in focus, particularly since the 9/11 incident.

Even today, those at the helm have to come up with an independent regulatory body for religious seminaries while over the years, the Pakistan Madrassah Education Board (PMEB), established in 2001 with an aim to modernise traditional religious seminaries, has become redundant exposing the kind of treatment being meted out to the important sector by successive governments.

The issue has become more complex after the 18th Amendment under which the subject of Islamic education has been transferred to provinces. However the provinces, especially Punjab, are wondering as to how they could streamline the affairs when religious seminaries falling in their respective areas are actually administratively control at the national level by their respective Wafaqs (boards). These Wafaqs include Wafaq-ul Madaris, Tanzeem-ul-Madaris Ahl-e-Sunnat Pakistan, Rabita-ul-Madaris Al-Islamia Pakistan, Wafaq-ul-Madaris Al-Salfia Pakistan and Wafaq-ul-Madaris Al-Shia Pakistan.

If seen in the light of the 18th Amendment, the Punjab government has practically made no headway regarding Madrassah reforms despite the passage of more than a year when the subject of Islamic education was transferred to provinces under the amendment. Even no debate has taken place as to how Punjab should move with regard to its supposed responsibility after this amendment.

Interestingly, the registration of religious seminaries in Punjab falls in domain of its Industries Department while Department of Auqaf is supposed to interact with these institutes for introducing reforms.

Now when a new year has started, the stakeholders have demanded the authorities to take practical steps to introduce necessary reforms bringing religious seminaries into the mainstream and help remove misconception and criticism that the Madaris have been facing over the years, particularly after 9/11.

At the same time, the stakeholders have underscored the need of differentiating Quranic literacy centres and religious seminaries, offering Dars-e-Nizami, in order to remove misconceptions between the both.

Former Dean Faculty of Education of the Punjab University (PU) Prof Dr Hafiz Muhammad Iqbal argues that some of the authors did not give a faithful picture of Madrassah phenomena owing to this very confusion. ěThus appears a distorted picture,î he says while arguing there should be empirical evidence and actual statistics.

While referring to his recent research conducted in Tehsil Ahmedpur East of Bahawalpur district, Dr Iqbal said the total number of Madrassahs in the Tehsil was 355 but after a further scrutiny, it was revealed that most of these institutions were just established in mosques or sometimes they were having one additional room and giving just instruction to students for Nazira Quran and Hifz.

ěThese institutions cannot be categorized as Madrassahs,î Dr Iqbal said while adding that there was need to differentiate between the two to remove misconceptions about religious seminaries.

Madaris reform issue was their right after creation of Pakistan but no government succeeded in introducing them owing to the trust deficit, he said, adding that religious seminaries had been looked with skepticism.

Prof Iqbal, who is also a Madrassah graduate, suggested that introduction of contemporary and skill-oriented subjects in the seminaries was the need of the hour. He also suggested setting up of a provincial body to streamline affairs of religious seminaries, adding that there should also be a national level body coordinating with the provincial level bodies. The news

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300 foreign students of seminaries without visas
Faisalabad: At least 300 foreign students have been studying in madaris (seminaries) of eight districts of Punjab without having valid visas for years.

Already in the knowledge, the Punjab Home Department has asked commissioners of Lahore, Gujrat, Rawalpindi, Chakwal, Attock, Faisalabad, Khanewal and Rahim Yar Khan to look into the issue and take appropriate action.

Prepared on the information given by field officers, the report has been dispatched to the Punjab government stating that 298 of the 329 foreign students studying in different seminaries are living illegally as they don't have any valid visa. Visas of a number of students have expired between 2007 and 2010.

Foreign students belong to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Comoros, Ethiopia, Djibouti, France, Indonesia, Netherlands, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Myanmar, Philippines, Russia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, Tunis, Turkey and Uganda.

They are studying in Madressah Arabai, Raiwind; Madressah Arabia, Makki Masjid; Shadiwal Road, Gujrat; Madressah Arabia Zikria Masjid, Westridge, Rawalpindi; Madressah Arabia Madina, Dhaki Road, Hazro tehsil, Attock; Madressah Arabia Zahoorul Islam, Talagang, Chakwal; Jamia Qadria Eidgah, Khanewal; Madressah Al-Hussain Raisabad, Tulambad; Madressah Shamsul Aloom, Abu Dhabi Road and Rahim Yar Khan.

Reports say that 243 of the 244 students are illegally staying in Lahore, 12 of the 23 in Gujrat, 15 in Rawalpindi, 14 in Chakwal, two out of the 13 in Attock and 11 in Khanewal. Dawn

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NYA designs unique IT literacy programme
Islamabad: The National Youth Assembly (NYA) has designed a unique IT literacy programme 2012 'Mobile-Computer Literacy' Project for the ignored people of the society.

President National Youth Assembly Hanan Ali Abbasi told this agency that NYA is equipped with computers, printer, web-camera, and Intern facility suitable for 20 students at a time. It has in built electricity system containing generator, UPS and batteries of 10 hours back-up facility. Presentation will be given by using projector and at least 200 students will get training at same time, he said.

Hanan said that lectures will be delivered to the participants of training via projectors. Handouts will be provided to the participants for further more understanding about computer use. Each project cost is approximately Rs 3 million. President NYA said, "after reviewing prevailing projects of various governmental and non-governmental organizations, we realized some grey areas and in our model project we are aspiring to remove these downside".

In this project, we have introduced a pragmatic way to train people from the backward areas of the country through movable, convertible vans.

Project Advisor Nazia Raja said, "we have multifarious expectations with this project, like; empowering literally-neglected people of Omni-age-bracket, eliminating education-divide culture, multiplying educational opportunities, and eradicating educational discrimination".

A fifteen days course of 75 hours duration, containing computer typing, MS Office, Introduction of E-mail and Internet including web-browsing has already been designed for this training project.

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Letter writing contest winners
Islamabad: The Pakistan Post (PP) will organize ceremonies in different cities for distribution of cash prizes among the winners of National Letter Writing Competition.

Director Land Pakistan Post Muhammad Yamin Khan told this agency on Sunday cash prizes of Rs50,000, Rs30,000 and Rs20,000 have been awarded to first, second and thirs position holders respectively in three categories of different age groups. "In addition, ten special cash prizes of Rs10,000 each have also been announced and a special prize of Rs25,000 will also be given to the senior most letter writer," he said. He said that more than 110,000 people across the country participated in the competition.

In category "A", Muhammad Furqan Zafar of Balochistan Residential College stood first while Muhammad Shaheer of Divisional Public School Sahiwal bagged second prize and Miss Sadia Sehar Abbasi from Thatta got third position.

In Category "B", Atta Ullah from Nowshera got first position, Farzana Ajmal from Kala Gojran, Jhelum second and Farzana Kamar Bahawalpur third position. In category "C" Jamil Adeeb Syed from Karachi clinched first position, Sardar Ali Khawaja from Islamabad secured second and Javed Mansoor Yousaf from Lahore third position. The senior most writer Muhammad Khuda Bux Farooqi from Chiniot will be given the special prize of Rs25,000. The news

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