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HEC needs-based scholarships | Twin cities schools

HEC awards 13,000 needs-based scholarships
Islamabad, Jan 06: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has awarded over 13,000 needs-based scholarships for study at undergraduate and graduate levels in the Pakistani universities. These scholarships, offered under different schemes, cover all regions of the country, including four provinces, Fata, Northern Areas and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

HEC provides opportunities for access to higher education, especially in this case to underprivileged candidates, who are able to gain admission in universities on merit, but find it difficult to pursue studies due to financial constraints.

HEC is not only managing needs-based scholarships funded by the Government of Pakistan, but also US needs-based scholarships, Japanese needs-based scholarships, German needs-based scholarships and French needs-based scholarships. The foreign donors fund these students to complete their studies in Pakistani universities.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 1984 students have benefited from these scholarships while the number for AJK is 291, Northern Areas 37, Federal Area 1529, Punjab (including Southern Punjab) 4885, Sindh (including Interior Sindh) 3844 and Balochistan 632.

The scholarship finances not only tuition fee but also extends to accommodation and living expenses. It enables academically qualified, but financially needy, Pakistani students to continue university studies in selected private and public universities of Pakistan.

The applicants are required to be Pakistani/AJK nationals. Students need to compete for securing admission at the selected institutions as per admission policy of the respective institution. Only those students who are enrolled in first semester/professional year in the respective courses offered by the participating institutions are eligible to apply.

University administration finalizes scrutiny and convene meeting of the Institutional Scholarship Award Committee, which comprises university vice chancellor/rector, two eminent scholars, two senior faculty members and two community representatives.

The eligibility of a candidate is linked to neediness of the candidate as determined and assessed by financial background of his/her family. No applicant is considered if his/her family income is more than Rs. 35,000 per month.

In addition, HEC is also managing the Federal Government's PM Youth initiative of Fee Reimbursement to support education sector of less developed areas of Balochistan, Gilgit/ Baltistan, Fata, Interior Sindh, South Punjab, Malakand, Kohistan and D.I. Khan areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa through payment of tuition fee of all students of these areas studying in Masters, MPhil in the public sector universities of their respective area of domicile and for PhD all public sector universities of Pakistan.

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Government asked to clarify its position on appointment of HEC chief
Islamabad: Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) here on Thursday directed the federal government to apprise the court in written that what it has been doing for the appointment of Higher Education Commission (HEC) chairperson and also tell a cut off date in this connection.

A standing counsel representing the federation of Pakistan, Jehangir Khan Jadoon, told the court that the Ministry of Education, Training and Standards in Higher Education has forwarded a summary to the prime minister for the appointment of HEC chairperson, and as soon as he approves the name, the appointment of HEC chief will be made.

At this instance, Justice Siddiqui observed that the Ministry of Education, Training and Standards in Higher Education should bring this thing into the prime minister's notice that this is an issue of vital importance.

The petition was moved in the court by the founder chairman of the HEC, a well-known educationist and scientist of Pakistan, Dr Atta-ur-Rahman, who is seeking from the court to direct the federal government to immediately appoint the HEC chairperson in an open and transparent manner.

The legal counsel of the petitioner, Umar Hanif Kichi, argued before the court that under the Section 8(3) of the HEC Ordinance 2002, 'the position of HEC chairman to lie vacant for a maximum of three months and it is mandatory that after 90 days, regular chairperson must be appointed'. However, there is no regular permanent appointment of the HEC chairman even after a lapse of 120 days since the tenure of former HEC chairman Dr. Javed Laghari had expired on August 26, 2013.

The petition said that academic circles, vice chancellors, academic staff associations and the public at large, who are the key stakeholders, have already expressed reservations on non-initiation of process for appointment of a regular HEC chairperson.

The petitioner said that the Higher Education Commission comprises a chairman alongside its 17 members that is known as the HEC Board. The commission or board as a whole takes all key decisions and decides policy matters.

The petitioner said that the delay in the appointment is badly damaging the higher education sector, according to the education experts and stakeholders.

The higher education sector, comprising over 150 universities, 258 campuses, 1.2 million students, 32,000 faculty members, including over 7,600 PhD faculty, and administrative-support staff of over 100,000 are getting affected due to non-appointment of a regular or permanent chairperson.

The former HEC chairman, on the request of the Balochistan chief minister, had formed a task force for the betterment of higher education in the province. The task force could not visit Balochistan due to non-appointment of the HEC chairperson.

Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman, in the petition, adopted before the court that the meetings of the HEC have not been convened due to the vacant position of the HEC chairperson as well as vacant positions of seven board members of the HEC. He argued that the appointments of HEC members or board members are also delayed due to non-availability of a permanent chief.

As per HEC Ordinance 2002, it requires the commission to meet at least twice in a financial year, whereas the commission has not met even once in the last six months due to absence of a permanent chairperson.

As far as the appointment of HEC members is concerned, they are appointed by the prime minister. The appointment of HEC chairperson is necessary as he initially shortlists the aspiring candidates for becoming HEC Board members and forwards their names to the prime minister who is controlling authority for the final appointment.

The petitioner told the court that a new Tertiary Education Support Programme worth US $300 million was approved on March 24, 2011 and it would be taken away if the HEC is put to oblivion.

The petitioner further told the court that the USAID is finalising a US $250 million support to the HEC focusing on the establishment of Centres of Excellence in Water, Energy and Agriculture and this too will disappear if the HEC does not appoint a regular chairperson. The news

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Schools reopen after winter vacation in twin cities
Islamabad: Educational institutions in the twin cities reopened on Wednesday amid a severe cold wave after the winter vacation.

Students and teachers returned to the schools and colleges on the first day of the new year, through low attendance was witnessed due to severity of the weather.

It has became a routine matter for the students not to attend their institutes on the opening day, assuming that there will be no classes and most of the students will be absent. This forced the administration of educational institutes to resume activities at a low pace.

The Punjab Education Department had announced winter vacation from December 24 to December 31, while the educational institutions run by the Federal Directorate of Education remained closed from December 25 to December 31.

Meanwhile, teachers expressed concern over inadequate heating arrangements in classrooms.

Aslam, a parent, said, "I have not sent my children to the school today due to persisting cold weather conditions."

He said that classes were not held usually on the first day after reopening of institutes due to less strength.

Hina Arif, a mother, said, "It is difficult to wake up early in the morning during chilly weather conditions and make breakfast, especially when the gas pressure is low. So I preferred not sending my children to the school today."

She said that students usually avoided attending classes during the first few days after a vacation.Daily times

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Parents want extension in winter vacation
Islamabad: Parents of the children studying in educational institutions working under Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) have demanded extension in winter vacations due to severe cold weather.

The city minimum temperature has dropped upto 4 degree Celsius and it can be further dropped in the coming days according to the weather experts. The educational institutions reopened on January 1, (Wednesday) after weeklong vacations and witnessed thin attendance as most of the parents did not send their children owing to cold weather. Asim Shah, said he has not sent his children to the school due to the cold weather cas it would be difficult for them to study in the classrooms without facility of heaters. The authorities concerned must extend the winter vacation for another week keeping in view the problems faced by the children and their parents.

Shaista Waqar, a mother said it is difficult to wake up early in the morning and prepare breakfast in low gas pressure and then sending the children to schools in cold weather. She said majority of the parents do not take risk of sending their children to their schools fearing they might suffer from pneumonia or other serious diseases in this chilly weather. The recent wave of cold weather has badly affected the routine life of the people and the school going children are suffering from cold and fever in the prevailing weather. The news

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Teachers term QAU curriculum old wine in new bottle
Islamabad: Although Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) has changed the curriculum for its 15 affiliated colleges, teachers have claimed that most of the content in the books was not altered and was outdated.

Previously, the 11 federal government colleges and four model colleges of Islamabad working under the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) were affiliated with University of the Punjab, Lahore. In 2011 these colleges were affiliated with QAU at the graduate and postgraduate levels.

This was a huge switch, and being the first experience, led to the rise of several issues. A faculty member of FDE, on condition of anonymity said that drafting a curriculum was a major issue as students of graduation and post graduation levels were studying old books.

"Initially, the management of these colleges was instructed to continue with the old books. Meanwhile, a Board of Studies (BOS) comprising 22 members was constituted to devise the new syllabus for affiliated colleges," he said.

"Furthermore, 18 of the 22 BOS members had experience coaching at the intermediate level, and only 4 members had experience teaching at post graduation level. Therefore, the curriculum could not be upgraded as it should have been," he added.

A faculty member of a college said BOS initially held its meetings at infrequent intervals and later hurriedly came up with a curriculum."It seems the board just shuffled various topics in the old books and skipped some before announcing that a new curriculum had been devised," he said.

He added that drafting a new curriculum and syllabus was an extraordinary task which involved skilled selection of subjects keeping in view the demand of the job market.

In addition, he said the mental level of students and the courses being taught at Intermediate, Graduate and Postgraduate levels should be considered to avoid repetition of similar topics.

"Even the proposed amendments must be based on objective approach keeping in view available resources and books, and the capacity of institutions," he said.

When contacted, the president of Federal Government College Teachers Association (FGCTA), Tahir Mahmood, said a number of teachers had been complaining about the revised curriculum.

"Economics at the graduation level has been revised but strangely, the whole portion on 'Economics of Pakistan' was deleted from the book while statistics was included," he said.

He explained that students of BSc (Math, Statistics and Economics) were already studying statistics, therefore the addition was useless.

On the other hand, Vice Chancellor QAU Dr Masoom Yasinzai said that the BOS meetings were being held frequently. Dawn

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