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Education for all : Budget 2010-11

Education for all
May 31: With the budget for 2010-11 now just around the corner, the question of educational spending has come up again. At a pre-budget seminar, a demand has been made that the allocation for this vital sector be raised to three per cent of GDP. This makes good sense. While much lip service has been paid to the cause of education, in reality there has been no meaningful change for the people in the last six decades. The vital missing ingredient is the lack of will of both the government and the bureaucracy. Pressure from international agencies and funding from abroad have been the cause for some effort but results have had a negligible impact on actual statistics, with the number of schoolchildren growing at an alarming rate as the population multiplies rapidly. As far as the population factor is concerned, a literate and educated citizenry will have fewer children than an uneducated mass. It has been proven in many countries that the education of women has been the main factor in bringing down the birth rate. This is reason enough for the government to make an all-out effort to provide good education to all children, especially in the rural areas of the country. The economic benefits of a falling birth rate would go a long way in helping the economy, enabling the government to provide more facilities for health and education. Longer-term benefits would come in too, with fewer people fighting for the limited jobs available in the market. It goes without saying that the education of girls is as important as that of boys, so that they too can become part of the workforce and contribute to the family income.

Apart from the numerous economic benefits of education, there is the intrinsic value and satisfaction of having access to knowledge - to being able to read and understand literature and poetry, astronomy, economics or the millions of other subjects that can open new vistas for children and adults alike. People would then be able to take more informed decisions on all subjects, be it their children's future, their health or the future of their country. Many education policies have been formulated, some good some bad. The problem lies in the fact that policies are not implemented in their entirety. Before one policy has been given time to show results, it is rejected when a new government takes over. A good policy, drafted by professionals, needs to be designed with the consensus of all the major political parties, and an agreement signed that no matter which party is in power, the education policy must not be subjected to change until the end of its agreed time period. More funds are needed to back this and set up the foundation for change that we so desperately need.

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Increase in education budget to 5% of GDP urged
Islamabad: The Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) has written a policy letter to President Asif Ali Zardari, demanding his advice to the federal government for increasing the total education budget allocation to 5 per cent of the total GDP in the federal budget 2010-11.

The CPDI has also sent the letter to Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, federal and provincial education ministers and other relevant officials and institutions, reminding them of the policy resolve of the present government to increase the education budget allocation to 5 per cent of the total GDP by 2010 and 7 per cent by 2015, as pronounced in the National Education Policy 2009.

Lamenting over the consistently missing political will of successive governments, which have always made high promises in the past but repeatedly failed to fulfil their commitments, the letter urges the president: "You as head of the state should advise the government to fulfil its pledges for increasing education budgeting to 5 per cent of the total GDP in the year 2010."

The letter contains a set of policy proposals and says, "On behalf of civil society and conscientious citizens of Pakistan, we sincerely believe and hope that your timely intervention can stop further decline of country's education sector. We request you to give serious consideration to these proposals and advise the government for concrete policy measures for improving access to quality education by all children in Pakistan."

The letter raises concerns over lack of transparency and culture of secrecy about making, planning, reviewing and utilisation of education budget that seriously hinders citizens' constitutional right to education and right to information. It demands effective role of the parliament especially a meaningful consultation with and consideration of recommendations of parliamentary committee on education.

It further underlines efficient utilisation of education funds highlighting the long unaddressed system inefficiencies, which cause under-utilisation of already scant education budget. The letter further demands at least 15 per cent allocation for non-salary expenses, as appose to existing 5 per cent or less allocation whereas over 95 per cent budget was allocated for salary related expenses in public sector schools resulting into huge neglect of genuine needs of schools that include repair, utilities, and expenses for water, electricity, and gas. The news

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Bangladesh blocks Facebook
Dhaka: Bangladesh has blocked social networking site Facebook for posting caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and "obnoxious" images of the Muslim-majority country's leaders, an official said on Sunday. Facebook was blocked late on Saturday, the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) said. The move was ordered after the website "hurt the religious sentiments of the country's majority Muslim population" by publishing caricatures of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), BTRC Acting Chairman Hasan Mahmud Delwar told AFP. "Some links in the site also contained obnoxious images of our leaders, including the father of the nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the leader of the opposition," he said. Bangladesh's elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) has arrested one man over the images attacking the political leaders. "Facebook will be re-opened once we erase the pages that contain the obnoxious images," he said. afp

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LHC moved for permanent ban on Facebook
Lahore: A petition has been filed in the Lahore High Court, seeking a complete ban on access to the Facebook, a social networking website, in Pakistan, and registration of a criminal case under Section 295-C of the PPC against its owners for committing blasphemy.

The petition was filed by Muhammad Azhar Siddique, chairman of the Judicial Activism Panel (JAP), whose application for registration of an FIR had been turned down by the Civil Lines police.

The petitioner also prayed that direction should be issued to the government functionaries that no material with respect to blasphemy of any religion be published, displayed, visualised or aired in Pakistan.

Azhar said the government authorities were not acting in accordance with the law and not following the Islamic injunctions and also violating article 2-A and other provisions of the Constitution.

He requested the court that the website ëFacebookí might permanently be blocked/banned in the country. In the interest of justice and to protect the Islamic injunctions, the government might be directed to agitate the matter at the forum of the United Nations, Organisation of Islamic Countries and International Court of Justice, the petitioner prayed.

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NIP place 51,000 interns
Islamabad: More then 51,000 interns have been placed in different departments and ministries under National Internship program (NIP).

An official of NIP while talking to APP said that NIP is designed to benefit unemployed postgraduate youth of the country. He informed that region-wise inducted inters are more then 51,303, from Punjab 21,966, Sindh 8,611, Khyber Pakhtunkhawa 7,444, Balochistan 358, AJK 411, Gigit-Baltistan 301, Malakand 5,648, FATA 216 and federal ministries 6,348 interns.

He said that the programme has provided fresh mind to the government organizations to seek

benefit from their abilities and to train them for future challenges regarding job.

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Misbehaving with teacher
Peshawar: University of Peshawar Vic-Chancellor Prof Dr Azmat Hayat Khan Sunday said that strict action would be taken against those involved in misbehaving with the director of Institute of Urdu Language and Literature Prof Dr Farqeera Khan Faqri.

"The university condemns the incident, which is totally intolerable," the vice-chancellor said in a statement.

The perpetrators have been put behind bars for misbehaving with one of the most respected faculty members of the university, he said.

A committee under dean faculty of arts and humanities Prof Dr Farooq Swati along with Provost Prof Dr Muhammad Bashir, Prof Dr Shafiqur Rehman and Registrar Dr Syed Fazli Hadi has been formed to look into the matter and take strict disciplinary action against the culprits within a day or two, he said.

"For now the university has done what it has to do and that is to put the culprits behind the bars and let the legal fraternity take action against them under the law," he added.

The vice-chancellor said the university was committed to follow the conduct of zero tolerance for such acts. "We know how to take action within our jurisdiction and defend the rights of our people. Media is also requested to play a responsible role with the humble request that whatever action we take will be communicated to them," he added.

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Graduation ceremony held at Foundation School
Rawalpindi: The graduation ceremony of the Kindergarten Section of the Foundation School, Satellite Town was held on Saturday, says a press release. Professor Humayun Iqbal, Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education Secretary was the chief guest on the occasion.

With the guidance and edification of their teachers a group of sprightly and enthusiastic students presented a welcome song. The students of KG class attired in colourful dresses preformed regional dances and also uttered a few sentences in the regional languages which mesmerised all present. The little speakers impressed everyone with their oratory skills. Tableaux were also performed in which the students dressed in costumes of animals looked awe some.

At the end prizes were distributed among the students for outstanding academic performance, dynamic participation in class activities and for remarkable improvement in studies. All the guests were captivated by the performances of the little angles. The young tots with a sense of pride and dignity received their scrolls from the chief guest. While their parents heartily applauded on their achievement. In the end the young graduates dressed in their gowns and mortarboards presented a beautiful graduation song, expressing their feeling of gratitude for the teachers.

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Gender based violence discussed at FJWU
Rawalpindi: A seminar on gender based violence and its response from government and civil society was arranged here by the Department of Gender Studies at Fatima Jinnah Women University (FJWU).

Prominent personalities from different NGOs attended the seminar and discussed issues regarding the legal, cultural and social remedies of issues related to women. The session opened with remarks from Dr Rukhsana Hassan, Chairperson Department of Gender Studies FJWU. Samar Minallah, a well-known social worker and free lance journalist; Naeem A Mirza, a renowned human rights activist and Chief Operating Officer Aurat Foundation; and Maria Rashid, Co-director Rozan; highlighted the ethical concerns while dealing with the survivors of violence and strategies to reduce Violence against Women (VAW). Naeem A Mirza enlightened the audience with their experiences in the field.

The seminar was followed by a healthy question-answer session, which helped in clearing misconceptions lurking in the minds of students. Dr Shamim Mehmood Zaidi, the chief guest at the occasion, thanked the eloquent speakers and appreciated them for the informative discussion and dissemination of their original experiences. In the end, university souvenirs were presented to the worthy guests. The news

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