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Education sector most under-funded | Student returns from UK

Education an under-funded sector: survey
Islamabad, June 12: The government acknowledged on Thursday that education sector remained one of the most under-funded sectors during the last year due to ongoing financial constraints.

According to Economic Survey 2008-2009 released here by the Adviser on Economic Affairs Shaukat Tarin, public expenditure on education stood at 2.1 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP). However, overall literacy rate has improved from 55 per cent in 2007-2008 to 56 per cent in 2008-2009, the survey revealed.

The trend of investment in the sector in terms of GDP has been 2.5 and 2.47 per cent during 2006-07 and 2007-8 respectively. It is on the lower side compared with its requirements given the importance of the sector. The budget allocation has increased by 8.6 per cent in 2008-9 against an increase of 17 per cent in 2007-8.

During the outgoing financial year, the government originally committed Rs6.508 billion to implementation of 85 different projects of the federal education ministry. However, later the Planning and Development Division and Finance Division imposed a 33 per cent cut and deprived the ministry of Rs2.028 billion. Eventually the ministry could only receive Rs4.186 billion.

According to the Pakistan Social and Living Measurement (PSLM) survey data for 2007-8 quoted in ESP 2008-2009, the overall literacy rate stands at 56 per cent; 69 per cent for male and 44 per cent for female.

Literacy rate in Punjab stood at 59 per cent followed by Sindh (56 per cent), NWFP (49 per cent) and Balochistan with 46 per cent. The overall school attendance (10 years and above) is 58 per cent; 71 per cent for male and 46 per cent for female in 2007-8.

According to the education ministry, there are currently 227,243 educational institutions in the country and the overall enrolment is recorded at 34.49 million with teaching staff of 1.27 million

On the higher education side, the Higher Education Commission during last year awarded charter to 28 new universities and degree awarding institutions in public and private sector. Enrollment at the universities and degree awarding institutions increased by 124 per cent, from 331,745 in year 2002-3 to 741,092 in the year 2007-8.

Pakistani universities produced 613 PhDs during 2008 as compared to 420 during 2007-8. Students who had left for overseas for MS and PhD on the HEC scholarships have started coming back and serving the country.

Public spending on the higher education increased from Rs7,723.4 million during 2002-3 to Rs2,8741.677 million during 2006-7 showing an increase of 272.14 per cent. Economic crisis in the country started in year 2007-8 and got worse during 2008-9, impact of which was also felt by higher education sector. Dawn


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Student returns from UK, calls detention 'mental torture'
Islamabad:: One of several Pakistani students rounded up by British authorities on allegations of terrorism later dropped has described his detention as `mental torture' after returning to Islamabad.

The case has strained relations between Britain and Pakistan, especially after British authorities failed to produce enough evidence to back up the terror charges but insisted on deporting the students anyway.

"I fail to understand still why they kept us under detention," Tariqur Rehman told reporters in brief comments at the Islamabad airport. "We were accused of being Islamic extremists."

Twelve people, most of them Pakistanis in Britain on student visas, were arrested in dramatic daytime operations across England on April 8.

The arrests were rushed in part because one of the country's top counter-terrorism officers inadvertently exposed details of the operation to a photographer outside the prime minister's office.

"I think the mental torture is worse than physical torture," Mr Rehman said. He declined to say if he would sue Britain.

Britain's embassy in Islamabad said Mr Rehman had agreed to voluntary deportation. AP


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FPSC clarifies news item
Islamabad: The Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) through a press release clarified a news item appeared regarding functioning of the FPSC in the absence of its Chairman.

A very grim and contrary to the factual position has been narrated in the story. It suggests as if the functioning of the commission has stopped altogether, which is based on lack of information. It is clarified that the commission was established under FPSC Ordinance, 1977. It functions in accordance with the same ordinance. It is the commission that matters. Presently, eight members of the commission are performing their duties with devotion following highly structured procedures. The commission conducted CSS Examination - 2009 from April 25, 2009 to May 12, 2009 in 19 cities, having 59 centers with enrolment of 9046 candidates. It was a very successful conduct of examination and no untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the country.

Secondly, the interviews fixed by the commission are being conducted in all the provincial headquarters and federal capital as per schedule. Thirdly, in last week of June, 2009 the commission has scheduled a marathon examination comprising 36 cases with enrolment of 34046 candidates in 9 big cities of the country. Examination centers have been reserved, candidates have been issued admission cards and the supervisory staff has also been deputed. The FPSC is fully geared up to conduct the examination.

Against this backdrop, it is quite obvious that the story is based more on supposition and less on facts. The commission is fully functional and responsive to its functions and responsibilities, as under the law even if some vacancy is lying vacant, the commission keeps on functioning.

Ansar Abbasi adds: Three major facts included in my story are simply not touched by the FPSC clarification. These are 1) In the absence of chairman, the allocations for the CSS candidates are still awaited. 2) The nominations made by the committees against dozens of vacancies are also waiting for the new chairman to forward them to the concerned government departments; 3) Fresh appointments sought by the government departments also wait for the new chairman, who has to make committees of FPSC members for interviews of the candidates. In the absence of the chairman any of the above three functions could not be performed by any member or officials of the commission. The News


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