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Private schools exploitation | IIU PhD degrees

Exploitation of teachers by private schools goes unnoticed
Islamabad, June 27: An unfortunate aspect in relation to private sector schools which goes almost unnoticed every year is non-payment of salaries to the teachers during annual summer vacation.

Except a few big names in the private sector, many of the private schools either do not pay salaries to their teachers at all or pay half amount despite the fact the schools charge full fee from students and in most of the cases that too in advance. It is also an unfortunate reality that sometimes before the start of summer break, teachers are said goodbye by the management with an aim to save the amount to be spent on their salaries and subsequently fresh appointments are made after the summer holidays by these private schools.

This year too, in the ongoing summer break which will continue till August 14, there are reports about non-payment of salaries to teachers. The situation needs prompt action by those at the helm. Many of the private schools have introduced different categories of teachers and pay them salaries in summer vacation as per their experience unlike the practice these schools follow in routine.

Another important point which needs to be highlighted is related to low salary structure of teachers and job insecurity at private schools.

But since there is no regulatory body of the Punjab government to monitor and regulate affairs of the private schools, there are serious apprehensions among the academic circles that private sector would continue its unbridled working and would keep on exploiting teachers.

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Teachers yet to receive their payments
Rawalpindi: Hundreds of teachers working in different educational institutions who had been recently assigned duties of house numbering during the census had yet not received their payments for the services they performed.

A number of teachers headed by Shafiq Bhulwalia, President of Secondary Education School Teachers Association along with Saghir Alam, President of Punjab Teachers Association, Rawalpindi said that they were not paid their allowances for performing duties of home numbering in different parts of the country.

According to the agreement, the assigned teachers were to be paid Rs6,000 to Rs9,000 special allowance for the special duty of home numbering which was carried out from April 15 to May 5 this year. During the period, the teachers assigned the work remained on their duties on the orders of the higher authorities in the federal government, provincial governments and the related district administrations.

Shafiq Bhulwalia and Saghir Alam on behalf of other teachers as well called upon the concerned authorities to take measures for the payment of their allowances by June 30, 2011.

They threatened that they would not perform their duties during population census in October if the assigned teachers are not paid their allowances by 30th of the current month. The teachers termed the allowances of Rs6,000 to Rs9,000 as meagre in the sense of hardships they faced during house numbering. On the other hand, Executive Director Education Qazi Zahoor admitted that payment has yet not been released to them. However, cheques of all government teachers who performed their duties have been prepared which would be given to them in a couple of days. Tension among the teachers would release soon, Qazi Zahoor said.

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Three IIU students awarded PhD degrees
Islamabad: The International Islamic University (IIU) has awarded PhD degrees to Muhammad Iqbal Naeem, Aamna Saleem Khan and Lamia after they successfully defended their theses.

Muhammad Iqbal Naeem defended his thesis on 'A comparative study of Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and General Certificate of Education - Ordinary Level (GCC O-Level) English Language Course.'

Aamna Saleem Khan defended her thesis on 'Existing level of understanding of concepts in the subject of chemistry among class IX students and effects of teaching chemistry through concept formation teaching model on students' achievements.'

Both students of PhD Education Degree Programme undertook their research under the direction of Dr. Maqsood Alam Bukhari. Their theses were also evaluated by foreign experts; Professor Dr. Uger Demiray, Faculty of Communication Sciences, Turkey, and Professor Dr. W A Gulam, Newton Annex, Salford University, UK.

Lamia completed her PhD Islamic Studies (Usuluddin) (Specialisation in Hadith and Sciences). She undertook her thesis under the supervision of Dr. Suhail Hassan, associate professor at the IIU, whereas her thesis was evaluated by two foreign experts - Dr. Najim Khalaf, former assistant professor at the Ajman University, UAE, and Dr. Asim Al-Qaryot, professor at the Imam Muhammad Bin Saud University, Riyadh.

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Harvard University offers special S. Asia course
Islamabad: Aimed at building bridges between Pakistani and American societies, Harvard University is offering a special South Asia course that will bring together Harvard Summer School students and Pakistani activists, advocates and scholars who represent an emerging and vibrant civil society.

The university will use video conferencing technology to connect the people of two countries. "An immediate objective is to highlight some of the vibrancy, diversity, constructive criticism, and potential of Pakistani society that often is ignored in the mainstream western media," said Maggie Ronkin, the brain behind the course titled Social Development in Pakistan. She will be joined by the director of the Akhter Hameed Khan Resource Centre, Fayyaz Baqir, and the director of the American Institute of Pakistan Studies, Nadeem Akbar, in Pakistan.

This is the second such course collaboratively designed and produced by the same team. Maggie launched the first US-based course last summer in the Programme on Justice and Peace at Georgetown University. This time, along with some changes in topics to be discussed, special arrangements create a bilocational classroom by selecting ten Islamabad-based Harvard Summer School student participants. "The interaction of these students with students on Harvard's campus will foster communication among all, and, of course, create new opportunities for Islamabad-based students," said Maggie.

She said that video conferencing would enable interactions of US students with Islamabad-based implementers of solutions to inequalities and injustices, and with expert conservators, as well as with peers. "Pakistani students get opportunities to learn about US society as large numbers of them visit the US for education etc., but US students have few opportunities to mingle with members of Pakistani society. In part, that may be why they fail to notice admirable things happening in Pakistan's development sector," said Maggie, who is very excited about the upcoming course.

Maggie further said that often the mainstream US media seem only to project poverty, corruption, and extremism in grim stories sounding alarm over instability in this Muslim-majority state. "For a second year, we are proud to partner with many inspiring guest experts on the ground to focus on Pakistanis' own narratives of identity through expert lenses of participatory development and community building. Inviting Islamabad-based student participants with concrete and varied experiences, interests, and questions to join us this year will prove to be an enormous asset for everyone involved," she added.

She says that feedback that her team received from the participants in the last course shows that previous opportunities for interaction clarified many misperceptions that exist among the public, especially among the youth, of the two countries. The Pakistani guest experts also reported that they benefited from conversations with students enormously.

Quoting a student in the last batch from a small US liberal arts college, she said that the interactions enlivened student participants with hope for better communication and cooperation. The student noted, "The wide variety and diversity of speakers has really humanized the region for me. Each and every discussion we have with [an] Islamabad [guest expert] fills me with hope and makes me realize that there are very tangible things that can be done to alleviate poverty and foster peace throughout the world."

These comments and many others give us motivation and energy to continue to develop and, especially, to deepen and expand the academic potential this unique course, said Maggie. "This year, Harvard also recognised team efforts in this area with the appointment of a teaching assistant, Wajiha Naqvi, a LUMS graduate who earned the Falak Sufi Scholarship to focus on Pakistan studies at New York University."

Maggie is finalising course arrangements in the USA. She has taught anthropology, socio-linguistics, and communication at leading universities including Georgetown, the University of Texas at Austin, and LUMS. She also studied in the University of California's Berkeley Urdu Language Programme in Pakistan and wrote theses on constructions of identity in a Lahori woman's narratives. In addition to developing the videoconferencing initiative, Maggie is now co-producing two videos on performance traditions and lifeways of Pakistan's Shedis.

Course partner Fayyaz Baqir directs the Islamabad-based Akter Hameed Khan Resource Center. The AHK Center was established in 2000 to preserve the legacy of Akhter Hameed Khan, a social scientist recognised globally for his contributions to the theory and practice of participatory social development. The Center maintains a collection of field reports, unpublished documents, and video footage. It also sponsors academic programmes, research, public lectures, and publications on poverty alleviation.

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AIOU initiatives for staff welfare lauded
Islamabad: The Academic Staff Association of Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) has welcomed the moves and initiatives of AIOU Vice-Chancellor Professor Nazir Ahmed Sangi regarding uplift of faculty and other servicing cadres of the university by conducting of connective four selection board meetings which was unprecedented in the history of the university.

According to a press release issued here on Saturday, contrary to the past, these selections and appointments are made without any favour or fear and based on merit only. The selection board is highly commended for this.

The association for these moves fully support and stand with the vice chancellor and with the selection board. The association also requested looking into the cases of those faculty members and officials whose promotions were held up for so many years.

These recent moves by the vice-chancellor have created a genuine academic environment for achieving the goals of the university and will enhance quality of education in the country.

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NLA to sell selected books at 50% discount
Islamabad: With an aim to provide quality books at discounted prices, the National Language Authority (NLA) will display a stall of books under the title - '100 Books and 100 Guests' - from Monday. The books will be available at the stall with an aim to promote availability and sale of NLA books all over Pakistan. Writers, intellectuals, researchers, students and general readers are invited to visit and buy books at 50% special discount. The news

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