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Academic session from March demanded | PU to stop IJT Kitab Mela

Students, teachers demand academic session from March
Lahore, May 09, 2008: The decision to start academic session from August instead of March has sparked a heated debate among stakeholders especially students and teachers and they have called on the government to review its decision.

The government took the decision to start academic session from August/September in 2006. Students and teachers, however, disagreed with the decision and protested against it. Several meeting deliberated on the issue but the government did not review its decision.

The issue will be once again be taken up in an inter-provincial education ministers meeting scheduled to be held in Islamabad on Friday (today).

The meeting would also deliberate on examination schedule, national education policy and student unions.

The previous inter-provincial ministers held in Karachi on February 4 did not take any decision, saying a caretaker government could not take a policy decision.

Those who oppose the decision argue that it would affect the schedule of matriculation and intermediate examinations.

They believe that students appearing in board examinations would have to take the exams in extremely hot weather unlike previously when exams were conducted in relatively pleasant weather conditions. They are also very critical of lack of facilities at exam centres saying power failures add to the miseries of candidates taking the exam.

Majority of private schools do not observe the August/September academic session unlike public sector schools which are "compelled" to follow the government's direction.

Private schools, however, have to follow the session starting from September for matriculation students who appear in board examinations.

During the 116th meeting of the Inter Board Committee of Chairmen (IBCC) held during June 26 to 27 2007, the chairmen of boards of intermediate and secondary education of the country had also expressed resentment over the decision and demanded the federal government review its decision in the interest of students.

Various teacher associations, including the Muttahida Mahaz Assataza Punjab, have also called for a change in the academic session from August to March, saying it was in the interest of teachers and students.

Sources in the Punjab Higher Education Department and Punjab Schools Education Department said that both the departments would demand a change in the academic session as stakeholders had opposed the August/September academic session.

PU admin seeks police help to thwart Kitab Mela
Lahore: The Punjab University administration has sought police deployment at New Campus in order to prevent the Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT) from organising its three-day Kitab Mela, 2008, scheduled to start from 13 May.

Sources in the Punjab University (PU) administration said the varsity registrar had written a letter to the capital city police officer (CCPO) and Allama Iqbal Town superintendent of police (SP) asking them to ensure police deployment in and outside the varsity's New Campus so that the student group might be prevented from organising the 'illegal' activity.

They said the varsity administration had also provided a list of book sellers and publishing houses that had expressed their intentions to participate in the book fair to the police high-ups

Sources said the registrar had also asked all the deans of faculties, directors/chairpersons/principals of institutes/centres/departments and constituent colleges to ensure that no student/teacher/faculty member participated in the unauthorised and politically motivated event.

According to the letter, of which a copy is available with The News, the event is used by the student group to raise illegal funding and making money in violation of the university rules. The letter reads, "In the light of the decision of the Punjab University Syndicate 2005 and Deans Committee decision dated 04.06.2007, the so called Kitab Mela by the IJT has been declared illegal, unlawful, unauthorised and in violation of the university rules and students discipline."

Addressing the police high-up, the letter reads, "You are, therefore, requested to kindly help ensure the deployment of a contingent of police around the university corridors, the site of planned fair, at the New Campus to ensure that the illegal event does not take place. All the gates and the entry point to the venue should be sealed and manned by police contingent. You are further requested to ensure that the university premises are completely sealed and cordoned off, so as to deny access of any bookseller, student, miscreants and material to the university premises."

"It is further requested that the book sellers and publication houses may please be instructed through police stations concerned not to participate in the unauthorised event arranged by the said student group in the Punjab University," the letter concludes.

The PU administration had to call in police in May 2006 at New Campus when the Jamiat had tried to organise its Kitab Mela. Interestingly, despite police deployment the student group had succeeded in holding the three-day event which created great unrest in the university. However, later, the varsity administration had to take disciplinary action against students involved in the event and over a dozen of them were expelled from the university. The Jamiat has already started a massive campaign for its Kitab Mela, 2008.

A press conference in this connection was also held by the IJT at PU Student Teacher Centre (STC), New Campus, on Thursday.

Speaking on the occasion, PU chapter IJT Nazim Rana Naveed, Hamd Ullah, Sabir Shah, Sajid Ch and Abdul Hafeez Tahir vowed that the event would take place on the announced dates. They said Main Corridors at PU New Campus would be the venue of the book fair adding around 110 stalls would be set up by various publishers.

They said the first two days of the fair would be for students while the third day would be for teachers and families.

They refuted the allegations of generating funds for Jamiat by arranging book fair and said the amount collected was in fact spent on arrangements of the fair.

Replying to a question, they said minimum charges for setting up a stall at the Kitab Mela were Rs 5,000. To another question, they said since the prime minister had announced restoration of student unions, therefore, there was no need to seek permission from the university administration to hold this event.

PU official spokesperson Dr Mujahid Ali Mansoori said the Jamiat's activists had not sought any permission from the PU administration to organise press conference adding that it was an unlawful act like the coming Kitab Mela.

He said the PU would take disciplinary action against the students involved in Jamiat's coming event. "We also appeal to the booksellers and publishers not to participate in the illegal activity being organised by the student group," he added.

PU Registrar Prof Dr Muhammad Naeem Khan said that he had written a letter to the police high-ups seeking police deployment at the New Campus on May 13. He said the varsity administration had not granted permission to the Jamiat owing to which the event would be illegal and unlawful. The News

UK institute to collaborate with PU
Lahore: The Punjab University and the British Institute of Technology and E-Commerce (BITE) have decided to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate in the fields of nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and business administration.

The decision was taken during BITE team's visit to Punjab University on Thursday. BITE delegation comprised Director Dr Muhammad Farmer, Quality Assurance Manager Prof Stephen Moore and its Country (Pakistan) Director Prof Dr Abdul Waheed Khan.

NTU teachers stand divided: Accreditation issue
Faisalabad: In the wake of the students' protest drive over the accreditation issue, the faculty members of the National Textile University divided into two groups one of them outspokenly favouring the young learners and the other resolving to stay with the administration.

The situation emerged after a meeting of a select few faculty members, convened by NTU vice-chancellor Masood Biyabani, at his residence the other day. Sources privy to the meeting said that the VC had asked his subordinates to suggest ways and means for 'suppressing' the protest drive of the students. The protest, the VC said, had spoiled the campus atmosphere.

The meeting, sources said, panicked those teachers who were not invited. Subsequently, they decided to support the students.

Hearing about the meeting, some of the students emerged there and asked the participants to have a sitting with them over the issues, but the teachers turned down the request.

Some teachers of the 'dissident faction' also attended the function organised by the Student Action Committee on Wednesday, which had been protesting against the administration since April 2.

The students have been demanding the university's accreditation by the Pakistan Engineering Council, expulsion of the All-Pakistan Textile Mills Association (the organising body of the institution) and resignation of the VC.

Dr Mumtaz Malik, a former head of the NTU disciplinary committee who was one of the participants in the meeting, said he openly supported the students for their accreditation stance. "The students have been protesting for legitimate demands," he said, adding that some people were trying to spoil the campus peace.

He said the university administration had failed to get accreditation with the PEC, which had earned the institution a bad name.

Sources quoted some university officials as saying that "the teachers supporting the students are playing the dirty game for their vested interests". Instead of suggesting ways and means to improve things, they said, the teachers were fanning the flame.

The VC has been insisting that a committee had been constituted to deal with the PEC recognition issue and the students have time and again being apprised of the developments. Dawn
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