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Admission test preparation classes at tuition centres

Money-minting season for test prep institutes
Karachi, May 19: As Higher Secondary School Certificate Part II examinations of the Pre-Medical group ended on Tuesday and those of Pre-Engineering students would end on Thursday (tomorrow), it is that time of the year again when students get enrolled in expensive admission test preparation classes at tuition centres throughout the city to attain admission in the country's top universities.

Students usually tend to attend test prep classes to study medicine, engineering and business at professional colleges. Some students start taking these classes about six months prior to the test, while a sufficient number prefers taking crash courses right after their examinations end.

The amount of money students invest in taking these courses varies, depending on how well known the prep centre is and what school is the student aiming to get into. For instance, according to a staff member at Anees Hussain, "The cost of a crash course for public medical schools such as Dow Medical University and Sindh Medical College is Rs 16,000, while students attempting to get into Army Medical College (AMC) to study medicine have to pay Rs 18,000 per head because the AMC test requires greater practice of content." On the other hand, Students' Inn charges Rs 15,000 from medicine and engineering tests' candidates and a relatively low Rs 12,000 from business school candidates.

The study groups that start several months before the test date cost a candidate somewhere between Rs 20,000 and Rs 25,000, as IBA Grads Operations Manager Ammar said.

Providing guidance to aspirants on admission tests involves not just lectures and practicing under time limits, but also provision of books of complete preparatory material on each subject. Some institutes provide this material exclusively to those who take regular classes, while others sell it to outsiders too. For instance, IBA Grads' prep material for Lahore University Management Sciences can be bought for Rs 5,000; whereas that for College of Business Management, Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology, and University of Karachi costs Rs 3,500.

Ali Rashid, a former student of Bahria University, said, "I didn't find the need to take formal prep classes. All I did was to take prep material from my friends who were going to institutes. To pass an admission test, what matters the most is the amount of practice you put in and how you manage time during the test."

Most test prep centres have classes comprising 40 to 50 students and there usually is more than one batch that is being prepared for the same test simultaneously. Rafiuddin Shah, a student of IBA, said, "When I used to take preparatory classes at Anees Hussain's, there was a total of 10 batches enrolled."

Even after investing thousands of rupees, students, parents and even test trainers are never sure if they would be able to pass the admission tests. While test prep institutes are virtually minting money, where does an average college student, who cannot afford to pay the fee, stand is anyone's guess.

"Nevertheless, those who are motivated usually tend to ask friends for prep materials and study on their own. Also, most of the time, they attempt getting admission into universities where the criteria is based more on previous exam results instead of admission tests," Ammar explained. Daily times

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Varsity status for Jinnah's alma mater announced
Karachi: President Asif Ali Zardari has announced the grant of university status for the Sindh Madressatul Islam, the alma mater of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

The announcement was made at the inauguration of a three-day national conference on "Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah: His Life and Ideals" at the Chief Minister's House on Tuesday.

Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad, Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, cabinet ministers and educationists attended the inaugural session.

The president also announced a grant of Rs250 million for the establishment of a university campus in Islamabad.

Addressing the inaugural session of the conference, the president expressed concern over the declining education standards and said there was a dire need to improve the standard of education in the country.

Speaking to the prime minister's adviser Sardar Assef Ahmad Ali and Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan, he emphasised that evening classes be held in all universities and colleges across the province to double the rate of enrolment.

He also highlighted the need for teachers' training to raise the standard of education.

Principal of the Sindh Madressatul Islam Dr Mohammad Ali Sheikh explained the objectives of the three-day conference, which is being held under the auspices of the Sindh Madressatul Islam.

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Teachers to conduct classes on roads
Hyderabad: Agitating school teachers have decided to conduct classes on roads on Tuesday next, in furtherance to the protest campaign they had launched against the non-approval of a summary regarding timescale and teaching allowance by the Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Qaim Ali Shah.

Teachers boycotted classes in primary and secondary schools and took out processions across the province on Tuesday for second consecutive day.

President, Government Secondary Teachers Association (GSTA), Safar Memon said that around 150,000 teachers of junior, primary and high schools would benefit once the summary was approved.

A third summary, he said, was sent to the chief minister on May 7, who returned it back on 11th on the plea that accurate budget should be mentioned towards salary payments, he added.

Subsequently, a committee headed by Sindh education minister was formed which calculated an annual payment of Rs2 billion towards these heads - teaching allowance and timescale", he said.

The Sindh government had accepted similar demands of paramedics in the shape of service structure and the Punjab as up-gradation of posts, he said and added that: "We demand timescale to teachers after they have served in a particular grade for a specific time and their promotion to next cadre. The government is needlessly delaying this matter."

The GSTA Hyderabad chapter took out a rally from the Govt Jamai Arabia High School to Tilak Charhi.

Teachers sought the intervention of President and Prime Minister. The SPLA supporting teachers said that their demands were not unique as these had already been implemented in Khyber-Pukhtunkhaw, Punjab, Balochistan and Azad Kashmir.

Dreams of teachers have been shattered as they pinned lots of hopes on PPP government, said SPLA spokesman. He sought President's intervention in this regard.

NAWABSHAH: President, Primary Teachers Association, Rafiq Jarwar said that though these had been implemented in rest of the three provinces but the Sindh government was sitting on the issue since 2007.

He said that it appears that the chief minister is not interested in resolving the issue of teachers by throwing back the summary thrice.

"The PTA understands that the boycott is affecting studies but were compelled to adopting this approach as price hike and other social issues have made their lives a real hell," he said. How can teachers concentrate on imparting education when their lives were full of worries and tensions due to economic conditions, he enquired.

The PTA has planned of continuing the boycott till the 30th of this month while future strategy would be announced after today's meeting, he added.

In Dadu and Jamshoro districts, teachers boycotted classes in primary and secondary schools and took out a protest rally from main school to press club.

In Mirpurkhas, primary school teachers boycotted academic activities and locked the schools. Hundreds of teachers gathered at taluka school and took out a rally.

In Khairpur district's cities and towns, primary school teachers boycotted classes and took out rallies.

In Larkana, primary school teacher gathered in Deeni Madaresah and marched to the press club.

The boycott of classes by the secondary and primary teachers has drastically affected the process of education in the province. The stand-off, if not resolved, would have serious implications on education. Dawn

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