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HEC's devolution to provinces opposed

VCs of public sector varsities oppose proposed HEC dissolution
Islamabad, March 26: A former chairman of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and incumbent president of the Pakistan Academy of Sciences, Dr Attaur Rehman has criticised the government's decision to devolve the commission to the provinces.

Dr Rehman, the commission's founding chairman who held the position from 2002 till late 2008, said at a press conference here on Friday that the decision would be a blow to the country's higher education sector which had just started taking off after the huge investment that went into it over the past decade.

"Splitting the HEC between the provinces means we are pushing our higher education sector 40 years back because they neither have the capacity nor vision to take their universities to the competitive level of 21st century."

He said that although the HEC's status had been protected under the 18th Amendment as a subject of the federal legislative list, some elements were bent upon destroying the institution so important to the national development.

Dr Rehman said the implementation commission on 18th Amendment, headed by Senator Raza Rabbani, was being 'misled' on the HEC's status. The commission directly fell under the prime minister's control, but it was being dealt as a subsidiary of the federal education ministry, he added.

When asked if the HEC or the Pakistan Academy of Sciences had been formally informed about the decision to devolve the commission to the provinces, Dr Rehman quoting some reliable sources said the implementation commission had recommended devolution of the HEC and its announcement was just a matter of time.

He said he had already written to the president, prime minister and Mr Rabbani and informed them about the possible implications of the HEC's devolution to the provinces.

Some vice-chancellors of private and public sector universities were present on the occasion.

When contacted, Begum Shahnaz Wazir Ali, a PPP MNA who has worked as adviser to the prime minister on social sector and looked after the HEC's affairs for some time, said that until the government came up with a definite devolution plan for the commission it would be premature to comment on the matter.

However, she said, if the HEC had any concern it should make a presentation to the implementation commission. She was of the view that setting up of new universities, degrees' verification and quality assurance in terms of new degree programmes were some of the tasks that should be handled at the central level.

"Universities falling under the administrative control of provincial governors as their chancellors are already being managed at the provincial level and large public sector higher education institutions have their own senates and syndicates for governance purpose," she pointed out.

PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal, who as a member of the constitutional reforms committee had submitted a dissent note against devolution of the federal education ministry, said the devolution of the HEC would be a disaster for the higher education sector. He said that all over the world countries had national-level institutions responsible for standardisation of education.

"I opposed the devolution of the federal education ministry on the grounds that it will promote provincialism because every province will have separate curriculum and examination systems to follow," he said.

Mr Iqbal said that India which is far bigger country than Pakistan has a national-level examination system in addition to a university grants commission.

Despite repeated attempts, Senator Rabbani could not be contacted for his comment on the issue. Dawn

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MEXT research scholarships for 8 Pak students
Islamabad: The government of Japan has awarded MEXT Research Scholarships for the year 2011 to eight postgraduate students of Pakistan, aiming to provide them an opportunity to pursue higher studies in their respective fields at Japanese universities.

The fully funded Japanese scholarships programme is designed to contribute to the long-term development needs of Pakistan to promote good governance, economic growth and human development.

The scholarship grantees have been selected by the Embassy of Japan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan (MEXT) in collaboration with the MEXT Alumni Association of Pakistan (MAAP).

The scholars who have been selected for scholarship programme included Umar Asfar Khan (Computer Sciences), Umar Asfar Khan (Engineering), Syed Mujtaba-ul-Hassan (Engineering), Rehman Uddin Mian (Social Sciences), Waqar Aziz Jadoon (Basic Sciences), Shakeel Ahmed (Engineering), Mohammad Mohsin Hakeem (Social Sciences) and Tayyaba Mateen (Engineering).

The Embassy of Japan on Friday hosted a reception in honour of the scholarship grantees for the year 2011. The alumni of the scholarship programme were also invited to share their knowledge with the scholarship grantees. Head of Public Affairs Section, First Secretary, Kuniko Nakamura, during her speech, congratulated the students in this challenging endeavour and also expressed her hope that the students would come back to Pakistan to utilise their knowledge and expertise for the common good of Japan and Pakistan.

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Roots high-achievers awarded
Islamabad: One hundred and thirty High Achievers of Roots School System were awarded for their brilliant results of the academic session 2009-2010 here on Friday at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA).

Those awarded included students of Roots School System, Satellite Town Region of BSC, external Programme from University of London, O Levels, IGCSE and A Level from Cambridge University UK.

Sammar Ahmad Al-Zadjali, First Secretary and Deputy Head of Mission from Embassy of Oman was invited on the occasion. The chief guest on the occasion was Federal Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Dr. Babar Awan.

The German Dances and Chinese Dances complete with their costumes were presented by the students, which were marvelously choreographed by their teachers. The virtual tour of the activities of the Satellite Branch was shown to the audience. The delivery of 'Shikwa' and 'Jawab-e-Shikwa' was presented by the students. The chief guest congratulated the students and their parents on their wonderful achievement. He said that every child has hidden potential in him and it is the work of the school and college to exhibit these hidden qualities of children. "You must continue your studies with the same determination and competitive spirit and contribute towards a better, progressive and dynamic Pakistan," he said.

Two students were awarded in the category of Outstanding Performance Award Cambridge International Examination (CIE)'. Four students were awarded in the category 'Outstanding Achievement Award BSC' on achieving merits and distinctions in University of London Examination. In AICE two students got merits and distinctions in Cambridge International Examinations. Thirty-two AS and A Level students have graduated and were awarded 'Outstanding Academic Achievement Award'. 68 students of O Levels were awarded 'Outstanding Student Award'. Other categories were 'best sportsman of the year' six awards, 'young artist of the year' two awards, all rounder of the year five awards and eight 'Rootsians beyond borders' awards.

The Performers Awards were distributed in eight categories i.e. song, cultural performances, 'qawali', mime show, student council, ushers, Qira'at, and anchorpersons. Twelve headmistresses and eleven staff members were also awarded.

Roots School System Director Walid Mushtaq congratulated the parents and wished the children a bright future ahead. Earlier, Roots School System Satellite Town Branch Headmistress Huma Naeem gave a comprehensive report on the achievements of Roots students and school of the year 2010. She also mentioned the educational tours abroad her students had from her branch.

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Bazm-e-Pakistan of NUST holds seminar
Islamabad: Bazm-e-Pakistan Society of National University of Sciences and Technology organised a seminar titled 'Celebrate Identity, Celebrate Pakistan', in connection with Pakistan Day celebrations, here at the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering (SCEE), says a press release.

The event started with the recitation and translation of the Holy Qur'an. The programme included the address by Rector NUST Lt-Gen (r) Engineer Muhammad Asghar, a lecture by Dr. Ross Masood Hussain (Consultant in International Affairs and Law) and speeches by four NUST students.

The NUST Rector enlightened the students about the Pakistan Resolution and its importance. He further discussed the strategic importance of Pakistan and the opportunities lying in the success of this country. Later, four NUST students spoke on two-nation theory and the Pakistan Day. This was followed by Dr. Ross Masood shedding some light on the Pakistan Movement and its significance. The news

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