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Who is to blame for the examination mess?

Unfortunately in Karachi several mafias seem to be more powerful
Karachi, Mar 31: When one peruses the manifestoes of each political party, 'education' is listed among their top priorities. However, one wonders about the tangible improvement to the education sector that these parties can bring, given that they cannot curb irregularities in examination boards and exams.

The education departments of city and provincial governments, as well as all examination boards play a crucial role in the development of education. Unfortunately in Karachi several mafias seem to be more powerful than those in power. Those in Sindh Governor House are well aware of the mafia, and are the competent authorities for taking departmental action against the offenders. However, despite evidence being shared and information being conveyed to them, they have been unable to stop irregularities in the examination of secondary education in the city. They have also failed to conduct transparent and cheating free tests in several examination centres across the city.

The Board of Secondary Education Karachi (BSEK) is an examination board which is supposed to function independently, however officers at the BSEK are pressurised by political parties. Additionally, there are some officers on key posts at the board who have been committing several irregularities over the years, but have never been held accountable.

If one asks the Sindh education department for taking action against the mafias in the examination boards and the corrupt officers at the same, they express their helplessness saying that the examination boards come into the Governor's jurisdiction, not of the education minister's. Meanwhile, the Sindh education department gets away with all kinds of allegations saying that they have passed a resolution in the Sindh Assembly to transfer examination boards to the Sindh education department. Though they claim that the resolution has been sent to the Governor, but the latter returned the same for reconsideration. The provincial education department also insists that like the other three provinces, the examination boards of Sindh should also be given to the education department.

On the one hand, the education department places the entire responsibility on the Governor house, which doesn't seem able to control the mass irregularities in the examination boards. If the same situation continues, the examination board which has already lost its credibility would soon fail to produce competent people for professional fields.

We have been receiving huge aids for education sector for a long time, which have hardly yielded any fruits. Some one has to come up and take the responsibility of improving the examination systems and reforming the functioning of examination boards. To answer all critics and ease pressure of his department, the Sindh Governor should immediately take necessary measures for mass reformation in the functioning of examination boards and transparency of exams, even if it requires him to sack incompetent and corrupt staff in his own secretariat. -By Farooq Baloch, (The News)

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Ghalib Library in need of water, repair
Karachi: Ghalib Library, one of the few specialised libraries in the country mainly dedicated to the promotion of Urdu literature, is in need of repair.

A visit to the library showed that parts of its eaves had fallen from many places in recent months, posing a serious threat to passers-by. A large collection of valuable periodicals, stocked in a room on the first floor, was damaged sometime ago by rainwater due to the broken ceiling. Moreover, water supply to the library was suspended two months ago.

Established under the Idara-i-Yaadgaar-i-Ghalib by renowned literati such as Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Mirza Zafrul Hasan, Begum Majeed Malik and Sibte Hasan, the library has been functioning since 1971.

Honorary secretary of the library Rana Farooqui said that the suspension of water supply had adversely affected the library's working. The number of visitors had reduced. "How can anybody work at any place without water? The suspension of water supply has aggravated our problems in recent months," she said.

She added that the authorities concerned had so far not responded to the letters sent to them for the provision/ resumption of water supply to the library.

The library has been facing a financial crisis for many years. Neither the Sindh government nor the city district government of Karachi gives any financial support to the library at present.

The little assistance it was getting from the former Karachi Metropolitan Corporation came to an end in 1997. Though support from the previous city government, Infaq Foundation, and its own members helped it continue functioning, the library at present is getting a paltry annual sum of Rs50,000 from the Academy of Letters. That, too, is bound with the publication of some material by the library.

Ms Farooqui said: "It's only through the determination of the people associated with the library that it is still working. Their dedication stems from the love and respect they have for the great learned people who established the library as well as from their interest in Urdu literature," she added.

The library boasts more than 35,000 books, some of them rare, and 50,000 issues of around 600 journals. It also has a rare copy of a book in Arabic, printed in 1847 and titled 'Faraiz-ud-Dahr', which is perhaps the only copy available at present. Some 19th century and early 20th century journals are the valued treasure of the library. One can find rare magazines, such as Hasan (Hyderabad Deccan), Music Gazette (Faizabad), Rafiq-ul-Atibba (Lahore), Doctor (a homeopathy magazine from Lahore), Al-Mualij (Amritsar), Ghar Ka Ved (Amritsar) and Oudh Punch (Lucknow). Hundreds of college magazines also adorn the shelves of the library. About 2,000 special issues of literary journals are stocked here. In addition, letters written by authors and intellectuals are preserved in the library.

Apart from its valuable collection of books and periodicals on Ghalib, the library has published many books on some great poets of Urdu. It also has original scripts of some TV and radio dramas. "With this large collection of valuable reading material, the library needs to be renovated, expanded and made a fully-fledged reading facility so that more and more people can benefit. At the moment, it opens for only three hours in the evening and, therefore, visited by a limited number of people," said a PhD student of Karachi University visiting the library to prepare her thesis.

LUMHS signs MoU with UK varsity
Hyderabad: The Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences and the University of Bradford have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for internationalization of higher education and cultural cooperation between Pakistan and the UK.

Vice Chancellor, LUMHS, Prof Dr Noshad Ahmed Shaikh and his counterpart from the University of Bradford Prof Mark Cleary signed the MoU, recently.

The accord seeks developing and strengthening bonds between the two academic communities and in the process generate understanding, cooperation and communication between their cultures.

The MoU would also provide a basis on which formal agreements may be drawn for regulating academic, financial, administrative and practical systems in faculty development and further in exchanging curriculum, doctoral Programme including split PhDs, capacity building, training and joint research programmes. Dawn

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Adabi Board's grant raised
Badin: Sindh Education Minister Pir Mazharul Haq has said that keeping in view the paucity of funds being faced by the Sindhi Adabi Board, the provincial government has raised annual allocation for the literary organisation to Rs50 million.

Speaking at a book fair organised by the Sindhi Adabi Board here on Monday, he said that the board was an important institution which was promoting Sindhi language and literature.

He said that in the past, the board was not properly looked after and corrupt practices had been rampant in board. Giving an example, he said that complementary copies of the books published by the board worth Rs700,000 were given away every year and added that such illegalities had been stopped.

He said that the board was going to launch an FM radio service which would be the voice of Sindh. He said that directives had been issued to the board authorities to hold book fairs in different parts of Sindh to provide people with books on 50 per cent discount.

Mr Mazhar said that a $100 million master plan had been prepared with the collaboration of World Bank to provide facilities in educational institutes of the province.

He said that the three-year master plan envisaged recruitment of teachers, renovation of shelterless schools and construction of water supply tanks, boundary walls and toilets and provision of other missing facilities in educational institutes.

The minister said that to achieve the vision of Ms Benazir Bhutto, more attention was being paid to technical and computer education and Rs140 million would be spent on computer training to teachers.

The secretary of the board, Professor Zawar Naqvi, Professor Abdullah Mallah and others also spoke.

Earlier, the minister purchased some books from a stall. He also visited matric examination centres and ordered arrest of students involved in copying and teachers helping them.

Govt advised to ensure good salary for teachers: Private schools
Hyderabad: The Hyderabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Monday recommended that the government should register all private schools at district level and ensure payment of adequate salary to their teachers.

The chamber's president Shafique Ahmed Qureshi said at the first meeting of chamber's newly-formed educational subcommittee that the members of the chamber had complained that private schools underpaid teachers and charged heavy fees but not provided quality education.

He said that after decline in the standard of education in the government schools the parents who could afford high fees started getting their children admitted to the private schools to ensure better future for their children.

He stressed the need for evolving a policy to ensure adequate compensation to teachers and improvement in the standard of education in private schools.

The meeting was informed that at present seven categories of schools were running in Hyderabad and the rest of the country and the parents had to pay fees between Rs400 to Rs5,000 per month.

The private schools established in the lanes and streets of less developed areas charged the students monthly fees of Rs150, the meeting observed.

The meeting noted that in some private schools, teachers were not being paid minimum salary of Rs6,000 per month as announced by the government nor were they being provided facilities under the EOBI.

Mr Qureshi said that quality education was a prerequisite for building a healthy society and primary education was the cornerstone of the edifice of higher education.

He said the HCCI was acting like a bridge between the business community and the government and the body was striving hard not only to solve the problems of traders and industrialists but was also working to solve collective problems of society.

The chamber had appointed the subcommittee to solve problems of students, teachers, parents and private schools in order to serve the cause of education, he said.

The chairman of the subcommittee, Nazar Mohammad Qureshi said that the basic purpose of the subcommittee was to encourage registration of private schools, improve standard of education, ensure adequate salaries to teachers and build a relationship between parents and teachers. Dawn

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