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Islamabad students transport problems

Path to school too tough to tread
Islamabad, March 10: Students in the federal capital are facing transport problems as most of educational institutions have no proper transport facilities. This misery is magnified for those who come from suburbs in overflowing public transport vehicles suffering from maltreatment by drivers and conductors.

An investigation team finds that there are about public sector 415 educational institutions operating in the city, accommodating over 210,000 students with a total of 162 buses, most of them out of order, that are quite insufficient.

A large number of students come from out of the city and reach their respective schools and colleges on private transport, where conductors ill-treat them.

It is estimated that over 70 percent students are forced to rely on the mercy of private transporters. Female staff and teachers are in a thick soap because Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) has failed to arrange separate buses for them.

Hashim Raza, a student, said school/college buses plied only on specific routes while a majority of students lived off these routes. "Ultimately they have to travel on public transport. It's one of the big problems for all those who come from out station," he said.

Obaidur Rehman, a student, said due to financial problems, he couldn't pay full bus fare while transporters were reluctant to allow tickets to students on reduced rates.

Lalarukh Farooq, a student, said girl students particularly had to wait longer to find a seat in public transport due to which they often got late from school or college. She demanded of the authorities to provide sufficient buses for female students.

Parents complained of rash driving of school and college buses. They said very few institutions cared for safety of children by closely monitoring the attitude of bus drivers. A few institutions had pick and drop facility for students and others had not, they said.

They said private vans were charging Rs 2,000 per child whereas school buses took Rs 1,200 per child. "If a family has three or four school going children, it will have to pay Rs 6,000-7,000 transport charges in addition to already bulging school fees, which is unjust," they said.

Masood Zaman, father of two college going boys, said because of lack of transport facilities, a number of children opted to hang onto rear or side grills of buses or travel on rooftops, which was a constant threat to their lives. "Neither government nor private authorities have taken any step to arrange for students to travel safely," Masood said, adding scuffles between boy students and conductors had become a routine matter.

Zahoor Ahmed, driver of a private transport bus, said students had annoyed them a lot. "They plainly refuse to pay fare or show any identity card to prove they are students. Ultimately, it ends into brawls," he said. He appealed to the government to arrange transport facilities for students. Daily times

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Students transport issue
Islamabad: A delegation of Islamabad and Rawalpindi transporters, headed by Haji Akhtar Awan, called on Chief Commissioner (Islamabad) Shahid Mahmood and apprised him of problems being faced by them.

The chief commissioner assured them that their problems would be resolved immediately. The transporters informed that some students travel on rooftops of buses which is quite dangerous. The chief commissioner directed ITA Secretary Bashir Ahmed to coordinate with the Federal Directorate of Education and Islamabad Traffic Police to ensure that nobody travels on rooftops of buses and take action against those found violating traffic rules.

He also directed the ITA secretary to hold meetings with principals and parents and brief them on safe travel.

He said that the local administration is working on a transport scheme for students.

The transporters, including Haji Ahktar Awan, Haji Nawab, Sultan Awan and Gulfam, thanked the chief commissioner and called off the strike for March 10. The news

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Senate body okays proposed library act
Islamabad: The Senate Standing Committee on Education on Tuesday unanimously approved the proposed national library act 2010 aimed at helping to acquire, preserve and organise published literary heritage in printed and non-printed format originated in Pakistan (under the Copyright Law) or produced by Pakistanis abroad and published abroad related to the country.

The approval came at a meeting of the committee held at the Parliament House.

Chairman of the committee, Senator S.M. Zafar, on the occasion observed that the law was important to preserve the knowledge heritage of the nation and it would also highlight the importance of libraries in dissemination of knowledge and promotion of reading culture in the country.

He said the National Library would consist of a main library and branch libraries in Islamabad, and other branch libraries/offices and mobile libraries would be established across the country with the approval of the federal government.

The committee members observed that efforts were needed to expand the network of libraries, especially in rural and remote areas where general public had limited access to other modes of knowledge.

The members also noted that improving the quality of books in libraries would help promote reading habits among the youth and modify extreme behaviour to help bring a healthy change in attitudes, approach and outlook on life. Dawn

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QAU, ICWFS signed MoU
Islamabad: The Department of Earth Sciences (Quaid-i-Azam University) and International Centre of Water for Food Security (ICWFS), Charles Sturt University, Australia, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish mechanisms for joint collaboration and faculty and student exchange programmes.

The memorandum was signed keeping in view its mandate to produce qualified and trained manpower in specialised areas of geophysics, hydrogeology and geology. This was considered essential in view of the expanding programmes of exploration of natural resources, particularly for oil and gas, GIS and remote sensing, minerals and groundwater in Pakistan.

Dr. Zulfiqar Ahmad, chairman of the Department of Earth Sciences, and Dr. Mohsin Hafeez, director of the ICWFS, signed the MoU on behalf of their respective institutions. The MoU will remain effective for three years.

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Education, top priority
Islamabad: The government is giving top priority to education and is determined to enhance allocations for education upto seven per cent of the budget by the year 2015, said Minister of State for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Mehreen Anwar Raja.

She said this while addressing the students of Jinnah Institute of Informatics and Commerce (JIIC) Rawalpindi at their annual Sport Gala-2010.

She said that the government announced the national education policy after intensive consultations with all stakeholders including provincial governments and huge amount has been allocated for education during the current financial year to translate the policy in to reality. She was of the view that illiteracy is the basic cause of terrorism and the government is making all out efforts to promote education, as it would help eliminating the menace of terrorism and extremism.

She said, "We have to excel in the field of education to join the rank of developed countries and the private sector is also supplementing government's efforts in the promotion of education." Mehreen Raja said that the government is establishing Mohtarma Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University at Karachi and one of its campuses will also be set up at Malakand.

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Co-education system
Karak: Different educational institutions of Karak district received threatening letters from suspected militants on Tuesday, asking the administration to end co-education or else face the consequences, sources said.

Militants had pasted the letters written in Pashto language on the main gates of Government Postgraduate College and Polytechnic Institute Karak at night, threatening the authorities to close the ongoing co-education system in the district.

The letter claimed co-education was against the teachings of the religion and therefore it should be banned forthwith. The sources said a week ago some unidentified armed persons had forced their entry into Centennial Modal School Chokara at night and warned the school to end co-education or face the music. Later, they opened fire at the main gate of the school.

The principal of the school called a meeting of the parents the next day and apprised them about the threats. The parents decided to take a bold stand and showed determination to defy the threats. They said the militants wanted to disrupt educational activities in the district, which would not be allowed.

The parents said that these elements did not want Khattak tribe to develop by depriving their children of education, adding it was a conspiracy hatched against the tribe. The school administration also brought the issue into the notice of the district administration and district police officer of Karak Sajid Ahmad Khan Mohmand who provided security to the school.

It was learnt that threatening letters had also been sent to private educational institutions situated in Chokara and other parts of the district.

A lecturer of a private educational institution in Chokara, Nisar Ahmad, informed that after receiving the letters, their college administration called a staff and parents meeting which decided to instruct the students to wear shuttlecock veils as a part of uniform in the college. Nisar said they didn't receive any letter after changing the uniform, but the tension prevailed as the letters had affected the educational environment in the district. The news

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Book on refugees
Islamabad: A book portraying the plight of 32,000 refugees driven from their homes in the Indian-held Kashmir may propel the world conscience to resolve the problem.

The book "Life in the Migrant Camps" jointly authored by two young ladies, Marjan Lucas from the Netherlands and Amna Farooq Shah from Azad Kashmir was launched Tuesday at a well-attended round-table conference.

A number of perspectives were offered by members of the first, second and third generation migrants.

President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Raja Zulqarnain Khan, chief guest at the book launch, lauded the authors, especially Ms Marcan, for drawing world attention these luckless migrants who the humanity had forgotten.

The AJK President said the problem had lingering on for 62 years. But the UN did find a solution to the problem which was plebiscite, the only way to resolve it.

He said the plebiscite resolution did not come through and this festering and unresolved problem has taken India and Pakistan to three wars.

Raja Sahib was not hopeful of talks 'Plebiscite cannot come through talks,' he said in his presidential remarks, just before leaving the venue for some other engagement,

Journalist Maryana Babar was critical at Raja Sahib suddenly leaving the roundtable without hearing the views of others. She said, if the President of Azad Jammu Kashmir had no time to listen to people's views on the core issue of Kashmir, perhaps the world might adopt similar attitude and gloss it over.

Marjan Lucas said the problem was overwhelming in the context of world peace; the peace of the region hinged on its solution.

Opening the book before the gathering she read extracts from the chapter on Shaheed.

She recalled her observation that members of the second, third and fourth generation of migrants [from Indian occupied Kashmir] had a fixed idea to remain in the camps because they wanted to be a part of the struggle for winning back their homeland, the sentiment beautifully expressed in the song: Meray Vatan, tere jannat mainham ayenge ek din.

Analysts Farooq Rehman contended that the migrants who had been pushed into Pakistan did not get any assistance or relief from the world because these migrants had relocated from one part to another of one country, and this offended the definition of migration.Freelance journalist Ershad Mahmud was critical also that the Azad Jammu and Kashmir government had overlooked the problem and had not conducted serious research on the subject. Dawn

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