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HEC anti-smoking lectures in universities

Universities still waiting on HEC's 'anti-smoking lectures'
Lahore, June 07: Universities in the provincial metropolis are still deprived of lectures on the risks of smoking, which were promised to be conducted by the Higher Education Commission (HEC), in collaboration with WHO and the Health Ministry, starting from 2008, it is learnt.

The plan was devised to spread awareness on the risks of smoking and discourage the act in the country's institutions. Although the HEC has conducted such lectures in Karachi and Islamabad's institutions, Lahore where the trend of smoking sheeshas and drugs has significantly increased among students has so far been completely ignored and various varsities are still waiting for the HEC to initiate its lectures.

However, HEC Learning Innovation Director Noor Amina Malik said that the commission would soon conduct lectures in institutions in the provincial metropolis.

According to details, the HEC, WHO and the Health Ministry, in early 2008, jointly decided to hold anti-smoking lectures in institutions across the province. According to the plan, the HEC made a list of institutions in Lahore where the said lectures would be conducted and announced that their campaign would begin soon.

According to sources in the HEC, it was decided that the lectures would be held at the National College of Arts (NCA), Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Fast-National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences (Fast-NUCES), Beaconhouse National University (BNU), Government College University (GCU), Kinnaird College (KC), Forman Christian College University (FCCU), Lahore College for Women University (LCWU) and the Punjab University (PU). The sources said that it had come to the knowledge of the HEC that students at these institutions indulged in smoking cigarettes and sheeshas, adding that the HEC was concerned about the increasing number of students who were getting addicted to smoking.

An HEC official, seeking anonymity said that according to plan, universities would be instructed to implement the Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non Smokers Health Ordinance 2002, which would declare all educational institutions non-smoking zones.

It is worth noting that the HEC held anti-smoking lectures in Karachi some month ago and also conducted lectures in a number of institutions in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. "According to the plan, the HEC is focusing on the elite private institutions of the country," the official said.

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HEC, FAPUSA at loggerheads over appointment issue
Lahore: A dispute has erupted between the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and the Federation of All-Pakistan Universities Academic Associations (FAPUSA) on the issue of the appointment of professors and associate professors (AP) and on the requirements of research articles for both these posts, it is learnt.

The HEC is going to implement a new required formula for the position of professor and APs from June 31. However, the FAPUSA has shown concerns about the said formula and announced to launch a countywide movement against the HEC in case the formulae was implemented.

According to the new eligibility formula that will be implemented from June 31, 15 research articles are required for the post of professor and 12 research articles are required for the post of associate professors and these research articles should be published in the HEC as recognised research journals.

After June 31, the HEC will only consider those research publications and research articles that have been published by it as recognised research journals and the research articles published in other research journals will not be recognised at the time of selections for these posts. FAPUSA President Dr Maher Saeed Akhtar said that thousands of teachers in public sector universities would be deprived of promotions, adding that the association will resist against the HEC and will launch countrywide protests. Dr Maher asked the HEC to postpone its plans of rejecting pre-PhD teaching experience for appointments of professors and associate professors in public sector universities after June 30 for 10 years and not reject publications in non-HEC approved journals.

It is worth noting that the HEC wanted to implement its new formula five years ago, but it received stiff criticism from educational quarters. The FAPUSA president said that the association would hold press conferences in all major cities against the HEC's decision. HEC Executive Director Dr Sohail H Naqvi said that the commission believes that FAPUSA's stance is based on logic and that their concerns would be discussed in an upcoming meeting in July. Daily times

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Summer vacation controversies and more
Like every year issues related to summer vacation in educational institutions remained controversial among stakeholders -- school education department, teachers, private schools' managements and parents as the government allowed summer camps in private as well as public sector schools after announcing an unprecedented over 100-day academic break.

As the weather grew hotter by the end of May and it became harder for schoolchildren to stay in their classrooms, the demand for announcing summer vacation swelled.

With a view to open schools and colleges after the fasting month of Ramazan, the Punjab government unilaterally decided to announce summer vacation from June 1 till August 15. The decision drew a strong reaction from public as well as private sector for the longer duration of vacation.

In the wake of two weekly holidays and other vacation, the critics deplored the drastic reduction in academic year, saying it would have a negative bearing on students' learning. The private sector out-rightly refused to follow the government's schedule and announced they would go for vacation from June 15.

Realising that the study days had been reduced considerably, the government in an unprecedented move, allowed all private as well as public sector schools to hold "free" summer camps. The government also instructed the schools to hold summer camps for students of Class-V, VIII, IX and X, who would be going for board examinations.

The permission for holding summer camps added to problems of the parents who were sending their children to schools by private vans. In many cases, the van owners, who charge full fee during summer vacation as well, have simply refused to continue the service for the summer camps. Most parents say they would not be able send their children to schools for the purpose. But at the same time they feel their children will miss the extra studies and other activities to be held at these summer camps. Dawn

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Teachers boycott English classes
Lahore: The Joint Action Committee Asatza Punjab (JACAP) has boycotted spoken English classes by demanding extra perks and privileges for teachers for services at summer camps.

The JACAP leadership, including Rana Mohammad Arshad, Alam Khan, Rana Liaqat, Ashiq Rahmani, Aslam Ghumman and Sajjad Kazmi among others, declared its stance after a meeting of the committee. The JACAP maintained that the government's sudden shift of stance to allow summer camps had unsettled the lives of the teachers who had streamlined their routine for the coming months.

They also demanded that if the teachers' services at summer camps were rendered compulsory then they should also be entitled to 48 paid leaves in a year. The JACAP demanded that all the teachers over the age of 58 years should be exempted from summer camp coaching. The JACAP said the boycott of the spoken English classes would start from June 7. The news

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