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40pc children out of school | Agricultural Uni favoritism

Up to 40pc children out of school: report
Islamabad, May 28: An estimated 35 to 40 per cent children of school going age are out in streets or cannot access education. At the same time, economic crunch, ongoing war on terror and education under attack are likely to cause increase in child labour that already stands at up to 12 million mark.

These facts were listed on the top of a report entitled "The State of Pakistan's Children 2008" launched here Wednesday. Spread on 270 pages, the report was prepared by the Society for Protection of the Rights of the Child (Sparc).

Highlighting the plight of children, the report said almost 30 per cent children under five years of age were malnourished. Pakistan had one of the highest rates of infant mortality at 73 per 1,000 births in South Asia, while as much as 9,000 to 10,000 child offenders were in criminal litigation.

Among other problems, quality education became focus of deliberations. Pervaiz Hoodbhoy was less concerned with billions not being pumped into education than the little spent on mis-education. "It's a damning failure of our system," he said, criticising authorities for manipulating children for specific ends that no civilised society should allow.

"In last 25 years we have poisoned the minds of children, teaching them to acknowledge and identify forces working against Pakistan, demonstrating by actions and belief in fear of Allah, understanding differences between Hindus and Muslims, comprehending India's evil designs against Pakistan and collecting pictures of soldiers and policemen," Mr Hoodbhoy said.

The report quoted World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness 2008-09 that ranked Pakistan 117 out of 134 countries in terms of quality of primary education.

It also said 20 per cent of Pakistan lacked educational facilities and Rs6.5 billion Public Sector Development Programme 2007-08 did not address the problem.The report also quoted United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) that listed Pakistan among countries where education was under attack.

Referring to sorry tales from Swat, the report highlighted that education was most under threat in two major provinces – NWFP and Balochistan – both riddled with internal conflicts.

The seven chapters revealed that situation of children and child rights continued to receive low priority by the government and the civil society.

Giving highlights, Sparc Manager Media Fazila Gulrez disclosed that the state of Pakistan's children continued to be sad. She said Pakistan had legislated laws both at the national and provincial level to protect children such as juveniles from child labour, child marriages; to guarantee education to ensure every child enjoyed the right to education at least at primary level; and protect children on streets.

Yet children were being denied their fundamental rights to education, safety and security, quality and proper health care and recreation among many other basic rights. This is a result of poor or no enforcement of laws and poverty of will on the part of the government and the civil society to take children and their life and future seriously, she said.

Ms Gulrez added that going by the situational analysis of the state of Pakistan's children, the war on terror in many ways mirrored consequences of denial of human and child rights for the last 60 years. Swiss Embassy's Charge d'Affaires Konstantin Obolensky hoped that more child rights activists and defenders would come forward to address vulnerable children.

Norwegian Embassy Minister Counsellor Development Dr Sissel Volan stressed that "Education is an underlying priority if Pakistan wants to accord priority to its children."National Programme Manager (Juvenile Justice) Rafiq Khan said: "There are serious offences committed against children and not covered under the provisions of penal laws of Pakistan – corporal punishment, child sexual abuse, child pornography, and sale and trafficking of children with impunity.

"The traffickers, exploiters, abusers and molesters of children enjoy impunity. There is an urgent need to bring such offences under the ambit of law. To safeguard the safety and security of children's lives, body and soul the government must introduce a comprehensive child protection law in Pakistan."

Federal Minister for Human Rights Syed Mumtaz Alam Ghani was the chief guest on the occasion. Dawn


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Agri varsity admin accused of favoritism in appointments, promotions
Peshawar: The administration of NWFP Agricultural University has been accused of nepotism and favoritism in appointments and promotions in the high seat of learning, while vice-chancellor of the university has set aside the allegations as baseless.

Sources said that Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Said Khan Khalil selected Assistant Professor Sajjad Ahmad for the position of full professor in entomology department, allegedly bypassing Dr Imtiaz Ali Khan, associate professor and chairman of the department of entomology.

The sources said Sajjad was selected associate professor and professor in the same selection board meeting and recommended to the syndicate meeting. The selection board had to co-opt experts for evaluation of the candidates for the post of professor based on their qualifications, thereby meaning this expert shall not be a member of selection board. But in the instant case, a member of the selection board Dr Umar Khan Baloch acted as co-opted member as well as regular member of the selection board, the sources said.

The syndicate, however, in its meeting on January 1, did not approve the recommendation of the selection board, the sources added. The case has now been put before the selection board in its meeting to be held in the first week of June.

The vice-chancellor, on the other hand, when reached a few days ago, rejected the allegations as baseless. He said he did not select people for different positions. "A proper procedure is followed for the purpose and it is a common practice that whoever fails to get a position, he starts creating hue and cry," he said.

The sources said in another case of similar nature, Dr Fazli Raziq, who lost both the legs due to diabetes, was bypassed and Dr Shaukat Hussain was selected as professor. Dr Fazli Raziq is gold medalist and has many research projects as well as impact factor publications in international journals, the sources said.

The selection of Dr Jahan Bakht as professor in the Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering despite having no relevant experience and publications is another example of favoritism, the sources added. He has done his PhD in botany and not in biotechnology. His only qualification is that he is in the good books of the vice-chancellor and a member of the university syndicate, the sources said.

The vice-chancellor was also accused of appointing his closest relatives against different positions in the university without following any criteria and merit. The sources said the vice-chancellor appointed his nephew Shahid among his seven other relatives in the university.

The vice-chancellor, however, said none of his nephews was serving in the university. "No doubt Shahid is my nephew, but he is not working here. He is doing a prized job in Islamabad," he said.

The official said all the promotions and recruitments were made by the selection board and syndicate. "How could I intervene or influence the decisions of these high valued bodies," he remarked.


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Protest against poor educational standards
Nausharo Feroze: Childrenís rights committee on Wednesday staged a demonstration in front of the press club of Naushahro Feroze against poor education standards in Madrassas and high schools of Naushahro Feroze. The demonstration was led by Zahid Rajpar, district coordinator of the committee, Mazher Khaskheli, Suhail Rajpar and others. Talking to newsmen, they said the high school administration was not imparting standard education to their students as a result of which only 17 students passed the Matric examination from 250 students. They said furniture, fans, drinking water and other facilities were inadequate.


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Govt plans to include environment in syllabus
Islamabad: In order to familiarise the children with various environmental aspects and hazards, the government is planning to include environment as a subject in the syllabus of Class 9.

This was stated by Federal Minister for Environment Hameed Ullah Jan Afridi in a seminar titled 'Asthma Control: Environment & Public Awareness', organised here Wednesday at Preston University.

The minister said environmental pollution is, in fact, a major cause behind the rise in the number of asthma patients. "This is the reason why environmental control and management is considered imperative in dealing with this alarmingly increasing disease," he said.

He said initiatives are being taken at international level to enhance public awareness about asthma and Pakistan does not lag behind in this regard, as the government is working on war footing to effectively deal with the issue of asthma and is providing the required medical aid to people across the country with a sense of great urgency and responsibility.

"A fairly large number of people are affected by the disease in Pakistan among which children are more vulnerable and more seriously affected," he said and added that the ministry hopefully would be able to include environment as a subject in the school syllabus this year to mobilise the children and deal with the root cause of the issue.

He said unfortunately, Pakistan is facing various environmental dangers and the situation is getting worse day by day. "According to the national environmental policy, cutting of trees is prohibited but the practice still continues," he said. "In India, trees constitute 25 per cent of the total land but in Pakistan, we have a forest cover of only four per cent," he regretted. The minister emphasised that it is not only the government's responsibility to deal with every environmental issue but each individual and institution equally has a part to play.

On the occasion, Dr Osman Yusuf, a specialist in asthma and allergy, said it is a widely prevalent misconception in Pakistan that the cause of allergy is ineffective immune system but the fact is that it is the unnecessary working of the immune system that leads to various types of allergies. The News


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