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Education budget for fiscal year 2011-12

Education a budget game loser
Islamabad, June 07: The federal government has earmarked Rs50.61 billion for the education sector in the fiscal year 2011-12. This includes development and non-development allocations and is Rs4.8 billion less than the outgoing fiscal year's allocation of Rs55.439 billion.

The amount allocated in the federal budget includes the share of educational institutions and Higher Education Commission (HEC) for development and non-development expenditures for the year.

Rs9041 million have been allocated for up to higher secondary level of education while higher education got a Rs26 billion share. In the last year the HEC was allocated Rs23.22 billion for the recurring expenditures of the commission and public sector universities of all over the country.

For education services not definable by level, subsidiary services to education, administration and education affairs, and services not elsewhere classified Rs1362 million have been allocated by the federal government.

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Botanical garden being set up at QAU
Islamabad: The Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) has started work on setting up a botanical garden on its campus for evaluation and conservation of different types of plants.

The Higher Education Commission approved the PC-1 of the project in 2006. The work on the project started in 2008 but in the wake of financial crunch and drastic reduction in the HEC budget by the government, the Quaid-i-Azam University is running the project from its own resources since January 2011.

Situated between Shahdara and Murree roads, the botanical garden will serve researchers. The work on the project will be completed in two years if it does not run into financial snags.

Dr. Ashraf and Dr. Mir Ajab, former chairmen of the QAU Plant Sciences Department took keen interest in the project. The work on the project started in true sense with the assumption of charge by Dr. Masoom Yasinzai as QAU vice chancellor. The QAU Horticulture Cell and an NGO - Green Circle Organisation - are also extending a helping hand. A technical committee handles day-to-day affairs of the garden.

The botanical garden includes a building in which laboratories for research and tissue culture will be established. The structure and finishing of the building have been completed. The electricity had also been provided to the building in the last week of May.

The garden management wants to install barbed wires with the help of wooden planks to prevent the entry of stray animals into the botanical garden but financial constraint prevents it from doing so.

The availability of water is a primary concern for the executors of the project. It appears this aspect was not given due attention while envisaging the project.

However, according to a paper of botanical garden office, the area gets 1,000 to 3,000 millimetres of rains annually, which includes 20% in December-February (200 to 600 mm), 40% (400 to 1,200 mm) in July-August and 40% in the remaining months. It maintains that there is a good opportunity for on-site storage of water directly from rains and run-off water from the catchments areas.

A water storage with two separate sections for potable and irrigation water had already been constructed on the hilltop to supply to the fields and slopes through gravity. The university is also trying to utilise the wetland projects to supplant water needs of the botanical garden with financial help from civil society, government and international agencies. It plans to use drip irrigation, sprinklers and other techniques for using water.

So far, the botanical garden has plants of citrus fruit, 60 plus varieties of roses and vegetables. Its management intends to scatter seeds and plant saplings of local and regional varieties, including ornamental, medicinal and aromatic plants - 'amla', 'kachnar', 'ficus', palm, 'sukhchain' and 'jetropha', the last two being used to extract biodiesel.

A portions of the project will be allocated for olive garden, citrus fruit area, herbs and medicinal plants enclave, rose boulevard and seedling production unit.

Biodiversity, eco-farming, organic vegetables and grains are also on the cards. Landscaping, fencing, use of solar lights, playlands, picnic spots, food outlets, parking facilities and provision of cheaper 'paneeri', saplings, plants, seeds and bulbs to the residents of Rawalpindi and Islamabad through a sale point along Murree Road are some of the features of the botanical garden.

The work on the ground is being done by the Green Circle Organisation, which is providing all technical and practical assistance, including supervision of fields, gardens, gardeners and provision of seeds, bulbs, saplings and 'paneeris'. The NGO is helping the botanical garden under a collaboration agreement. It is engaging institutions like Qurshi Industries, agricultural section of the Chief Commissioner's Office and Barani University in the venture.

The site has already become an attraction for experts, environmentalists, bureaucrats, artists and intellectuals. One can see some activity near a green tent, which is serving as a makeshift office of the garden at the moment in the evening.

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USEFP running largest PhD scheme in Pakistan
Islamabad: Aiming to foster mutual understanding between the people of United States and Pakistan and get rid of misconceptions if they have any, the United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP) is running the largest PhD programme in Pakistan, said USEFP Director Rita Akhtar during an exclusive interview.

She said that as many as 650 students would be going to the US for various education programmes, including Fulbright scholarships, with 40 per cent participation of women. "The USEFP is administering 13 programmes in Pakistan. It also offers educational advisory and testing," she said.

Responding to a query regarding the return rate of scholars from the USA, she said that 98% of scholars who went through the USEFP have returned to Pakistan and serving in private sector, higher education - both public and private - development sector and government sector. "We do check as to how the scholars who had been to the USA for education are performing in their respective fields, but it is not possible to have full information of all scholars and the work they are doing in Pakistan," she said.

She informed that there were also US scholars who visited Pakistan for education purpose. "Let me tell you that the visit of US scholars to Pakistan changes their perception about Pakistan altogether. They leave as friends of Pakistan," she said.

She warned people of illegal consultants who are looting people in the name of Fulbright scholarships. "The USEFP is the only authorised body that offers Fulbright scholarships and that too free of cost. Forms are available on our website while we give free advice as to how to apply for various programmes," she said.

She said that although they have sent scholars in every imaginable discipline, including journalism, except for clinical medicine, yet their priority disciplines are water, energy and agriculture. "Keeping in mind the demand of the country we encourage students to apply in the disciplines of water, energy and agriculture so that they could positively contribute to the progress of these sectors once they are back," she said.

Talking about the Fulbright Commission in Pakistan, she said that the Fulbright Commission in Pakistan is a bi-national commission where the board comprises four Pakistani nationals and four Americans. "The selection for the PhD scholars is done on the recommendations of both Pakistanis and Americans where the interest of both countries is taken into consideration," she said.

She said that the execution of their education programmes is only possible with the support of the USAID, US State Department and the Higher Education Commission.

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Students' projects at FJWU conclude
Rawalpindi: Department of Gender Studies, Fatima Jinnah Women University (FJWU) held a closing ceremony of students' projects here on Monday.

The projects included seminars, workshops and panel discussions for the course 'Gender and Organization Management'. The purpose of these activities was to enhance the students' capabilities and skills to organise such events in their professional life.

Women achievements in all spheres of life are remarkable which is necessary to be appreciated and recognised in positive manner. Different seminars were organised to highlight the women's struggle and achievement in different spheres of life including media, education, politics, sports, medicine, armed forces etc.

Three workshops were organised in which decorative art by using raw material, leadership and management and enhancing managerial skills were included. Moreover, panel discussions were also arranged for the students. First panel discussion was on the topic 'Impact of Mobile Phone on Youth' and members of the panel shared their point of view regarding the good and bad aspects of using mobile phones.

The second workshop was on 'Empowerment of Women Through Girl's Education' and third topic was 'Portrayal of Women in Media'.

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Faiz Chair at AIOU
Islamabad: A Faiz Chair has been established at the Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) on the directives of the President of Islamic Republic Pakistan/Chancellor AIOU Asif Ali Zardari. The news

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