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Karachi HSC examination cheating | Education's sacrificial lamb

Teachers complain threats from cheating mafia
Karachi, May 05: A large numbers of teachers have disengaged themselves from examination-related activities in the ongoing Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) Part-I & II Annual Examinations due to notice of threats from cheating mafia, it was learnt on Monday.

A senior professor, on condition of anonymity, said that despite the imposition of Section-144, the cheating mafia, backed by some students' political wings, was threatening the teachers for dire consequences. Mafia has also asked teachers to refrain from meddling with the mafia's illegal affairs during the HSC papers, being held at different colleges.

He said, "Government Degree College for Boys, North Karachi, and Government Ship owners College North Nazimabad have been reported as the most affected examination centres, where candidates on the back of students' group use the unfair means. Director General of Colleges, Sindh, Dr Rafiq Ahmed Siddiqui has failed to control corrupt elements even in his neighbouring college, Government Boys College KMC, Nishtar Road.

It shows the negligence of the authorities concerned. According to some reports, external elements roam freely in the premises of Government Boys College KMC to perform their unlawful activities during the exams."

According to a statement issued by BIEK, a total of 32 candidates had been caught red-handedly while using unfair means during fourth day of the HSC Part-I & II Annual Examinations. BIEK Chairman, Prof Anwar Ahmed Zai, Director General Colleges Sindh Dr Rafiq Ahmed Siddiqui, Deputy Controller Examination Javed Faruqi, Deputy Secretary Imran Chishti and District Secretary Scout Muhammad Taqi visited the examination centres.

BIEK Chairman, Prof Anwar Ahmed Zai, has applauded the efforts of the teachers who are not considering the threats of the criminals and fighting with them with the sense of responsibility. The Nation

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Education's sacrificial lamb
Harvard and MIT, as universities, boast larger endowment funds than the GDP of many economies in the developing world.

These institutions produce some of the finest research in the academic world today, both in terms of quality and quantity. Is money the only force behind their success? According to Luc Weber at the University of Geneva, financial resources do play a role, but what guides their efficient allocation is institutional autonomy. In fact one of the main objectives behind autonomy is control over the direction of a university's expenditures and fiscal resources.

In 2002, the Higher Education Commission decided to take the bold step of upgrading several colleges into universities, granting them relative financial and administrative autonomy. However, it stopped short of one crucial necessity - the separation of administrative authority over intermediate level education (college) from that of the university. The draft of the National Education Policy 2009, although now put on hold, wisely recommends that such a distinction be made. It wants the administration of higher secondary education to be transferred to the schools.

Item 38 on the Concurrent Legislative List in the Pakistani constitution makes education a provincial subject, albeit incompletely (federal decisions can overrule certain policy statements). Hence, provisions like Article 21 (ii) of the Punjab Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education Act, 1976 grant power to the board to regulate the conditions of admission of candidates and their eligibility to be graded. Universities clearly do not call the shots, but are still expected to spend money, time and planning expertise assisting the board, which has usually proven itself quite incompetent in both academics and management. In the face of budget cuts, few research funds and mounting inflation, isn't this a little too much to ask of seats of higher learning?

While there is already a dearth of sound faculty in public institutions, whatever is available has to facilitate an exhausting schedule of classes ranging from Intermediate to the Masters/MPhil and even PhD levels. In addition, universities ask teachers to invigilate exams for courses they have not instructed themselves, assuming that teachers invigilating their own classes will indulge in partisan behaviour. This, unfortunately, casts doubt on the integrity of those in a noble profession. It also leaves university-level instructors/professors with inadequate time to pursue solid research consistent with their interests, area(s) of specialisation or even the demands of the market.

With the HEC drawing up increasingly stringent requirements for research output of university departments, it is unjust to expect university teachers to manage such voluminous coursework and produce meaningful research.

Remarkable dichotomy exists between the leisurely pace of the annual system of intermediate education - it culminates in only one end-of-year exam - and the sustained, rigorous assessment methods of the semester system that universities now follow. Juggling the two, many teachers lose interest in their students at all levels. Kinnaird College is a good example of academic decline due to this phenomenon and Lahore College for Women is not far behind.

Moreover, the consequences of applying blanket rules and regulations to all levels of classes on campus are unsettling, even outright objectionable. At Kinnaird College, no student can leave the premises before 1 pm. At Forman Christian, all students still wear uniforms.

Perhaps the worst effect is on the students of GC University Lahore, where the rules range from banning camera mobile phones and jeans to shalwar kameez (the national dress!) for males on campus. The registrar's office at GCU has gone so far as to register terrorism charges against students, who challenged an attendance policy - at a time when one can be illegally detained in black holes of the world for such allegations. Are these acceptable on a university campus? Clearly, only if there are enough 'kids' who need to be administered.

All this, it is claimed, is done in the interest of 'campus propriety'. This begs the question of what proper discipline means for an educational institution. Such authoritative injunctions serve little purpose for students of BSc Honours or higher research degrees. They are no longer at an age, where they ought to be dictated about the finer details of life. If more structured discipline is demanded of students in FSc/FA, it is only because they are still at a school-going age and by and large, legally not even adults.

Universities train students for rigour in research, not discipline. Indeed, it is the obsession with moral policing on the campuses in Punjab that has lead to the stagnation of thought among students', distorting the latter's perception of the role religion ought to play in public life. It has pushed them into adopting an apathetic attitude towards their surroundings. MAO and Civil Lines colleges will bear witness to this reality.

Today's universities are entirely different entities, geared towards a spirit of intense inquiry and advancement. They are no longer the simple degree-awarding, classes-holding buildings of earlier years. Pakistani society has a chance, through its universities, to resuscitate itself. Many of the questions facing us today will inevitably find their answers in the minds of thinking research students. But as long as the board keeps shunning its responsibility and its dictation of higher secondary education procedures continue to bog down seats of higher learning, change looks hard-pressed to arrive.

Yes, the intermediate system needs a drastic overhaul. But it is not the job of autonomous colleges/universities to do it. And as long as they cannot institute these changes, why should they have to bear the effects of the hokum that provincial education decisions have become? -By Soufia A. Siddiqi (Dawn)


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Debating society inaugurated at JUW
Karachi: A debating society has been inaugurated at the Jinnah University for Women (JUW), according to a press statement issued on Monday by the university. The chief guest at the inauguration ceremony, Sindh Environment Secretary Mir Hussain Ali appreciated the setting up of such a society, and said that this will provide a platform to the students to master the art of public speaking, the statement said.

JUW Vice-Chancellor Prof. Dr Riaz Ahmed Hashmi said that after the establishment of the university, attention was being focused on improving the academic, research, and administrative sides of the institution.

He said various students' societies were also being established at the university. Surayya Qamar, a JUW official, said that the debating society will provide training to students. She said inter-department, inter-faculty as well as inter-university contests will be organised under the auspices of the this society. The News


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Engineering college for Khairpur approved
Khairpur: The Sindh government has approved an engineering college for Khairpur and initially issued Rs6 million for its construction and running affairs.

Sources said admissions for the first term of academic year 2009-10 would be started soon in the building of the Bureau of Curriculum.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and People's Party MNA Nafisa Shah had taken interest in the establishment of the engineering college to be affiliated with Mehran University of Engineering and Technology (MUET) Jamshoro.

MUET Vice-Chancellor Dr Abdul Qadeer and a team of the university visited different places in Khairpur and surrounding areas on Sunday for selecting a site to construct the engineering college.

EDO (Revenue) Ahmed Ali Qureshi confirmed on Monday that a site near Police Training College, Khairpur, had almost been finalised for the college.

He said that more than 55 acres of land belonging to the revenue department was available in that area, while the remaining 45 acres would be purchased to build the college and a hostel on 100 acres of land.

He said that after formal approval of the site, engineering experts of the MUET would prepare a feasibility report.

Sources said the institution would be named as Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Engineering College. The college would facilitate engineering studies particularly to the students from upper Sindh, including Sukkur, Shikarpur, Jacobabad, Ghotki, Kandhkot and Kashmore. Dawn


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