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US support for Pakistan higher education

Agreement signed at HEC: US provides $45m to support higher education
Islamabad, May 13: The US government has provided nearly Rs4 billion to support public sector universities in the conflict-hit areas of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

At a ceremony on Wednesday, US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson and Chairman of the Higher Education Commission Dr Javaid Leghari announced the disbursement of $45 million (Rs3.7 billion) to help university education in areas affected by extremism. The cost of one year's university fee waiver for over 7,000 students from IDP families, announced by the government, were among the expenses financed by the US grant.

In his introductory remarks, Executive Director of HEC Dr Sohail Naqvi said Pakistan's partnership with the US in higher education sector went back to 1960s, and over the years had hugely helped the country in modernising its university level education. He said it was the timely help because at the moment HEC was facing a funding crunch.

"This is another chapter in the US government support for Pakistan's courageous response to violent extremism," Ambassador Patterson said, adding that "we also consider our contribution to be a powerful investment in Pakistan's future. How a country ranks in university development today is a key factor in how the country will rank in technology and social development in the future".

Ambassador Patterson expressed the hope that Pakistan and the United States would expand collaboration for developing and strengthening public university partnerships, which in the past contributed to the green revolution and helped build public universities as centres of excellence that are still leader in Pakistan today.

In his concluding remarks, Dr Leghari said the country was facing three challenges in the higher education; equitable access, quality education and relevance of the research output. He said Pakistan had the lowest percentage of participation in the higher education in the region. Moreover, there are issues of quality education which the HEC in collaboration with the US and other developed countries was trying to address.

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Homoeopathic college pays teachers Rs3,000
Islamabad: A petitioner who had challenged in the Supreme Court the disaffiliation of his college of homoeopathy took to his heels when a judge asked him how much he paid his faculty members."Three thousand rupees," he replied and got a dressing down from Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday who made an observation that his institution was producing 'killers'.

"You are paying Rs3,000 to a teacher to teach to his students," Justice Ramday said. "What will he teach?"

"Even our sweeper is getting a minimum salary of Rs7,000," Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry observed.

Advocate Zulfikar Khalid Maluka who was representing Dr Yusuf, the president of the Universal Homoeopathic Educational Society of Patoki, also had to face a tough time for taking up such cases. A judge said the lawyer would realise about the gravity of the issue only when his own children were treated by such 'doctors'.

The counsel later said that he had appealed against a Lahore High Court order in favour of de-regularisation of the Universal Homoeopathic Educational Society. The society was de-listed by the National Homoeopathic Council (NHC) after it was found during an inspection that the institution lacked basic facilities like a library.

"These people deserve to be put behind bars," Justice Ramday observed. He said such colleges had sprung up in every nook and corner of the country for imparting medical education.

"In the entire world, homoeopathy is a recognised branch of medicine and needs MBBS qualification to be practised but in Pakistan even those who fail to pass the eighth grade are given admission to get a degree of homoeopathy like our parliamentarians and given licence to play with the lives of people," Justice Ramday said.

The chief justice made his intention known of ordering the government to conduct a comprehensive inquiry into fake homoeopathic and law colleges.

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1,416 doctors, dentists left country in two years
Islamabad: While the country is facing massive shortage of medical doctors and dentists, the government is not bothered by the migration of available human resources to foreign countries in the hope that it would augment remittances and ease the pressure of unemployment in the local market.

Federal Minister for Labour Syed Khurshid Ahmad Shah on Wednesday informed the National Assembly that during the last two years 1,416 medical doctors and dental surgeons had left the country along with 774 people attached to the medical profession.

In response to a question by Ms Tasneem Siddiqui, the minister claimed that the migration of doctors and dentists had a good impact on the country. Besides improving their skill standards in latest medical researches, they earn foreign exchange and ease pressure in the local job market.

Federal Minister for Health had informed the house last Monday that considering population of 160 million people, the country was facing a staggering shortfall of 181,924 medical doctors and 150,551 dentists.

The health minister also said, given the number of medical and dental colleges in the country, it would take years to meet the shortage.

Health Minister Makhdoom Shahab-ud-Din further explained that presently 138,076 medical doctors were registered with the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PM&DC). However, putting country's total population at 160 million people, it needs a minimum of 320,000 doctors to look after the medical needs of general masses creating a shortfall of 181,924 doctors, the minister had informed the house through a written response.

Internationally, two doctors are required to cater to medical needs of 1,000 people, whereas, this ratio in Pakistan stands at 2:2,318.

Similarly, worldwide one dentist is considered must for 1000 people, whereas the ratio in Pakistan stands at 1:16,933. Therefore, the country is facing a shortfall of 150,551 dentists, federal health minister said.

The health minister provided this written information to the lower house of the parliament in response to a question asked by Dr Azra Fazal Pechohu of the PPPP, here on Monday.

Patients-to-doctor ratio had long been a major concern in the country, and successive governments have failed to bring about any improvement on this front. Moreover, most of the doctors prefer to stay back in cities which further compounded problems for largely rural population of the country. As a result, they have to bank upon quacks who instead of curing their ailments, are causing spread of diseases like Hepatitis A, B, C. Dawn

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Fake degree case: PML-N MPA resigns
Islamabd: The PML-N member Punjab Assembly from PP-131 (Sialkot), Liaqat Ali Ghuman, has sent his resignation to party leadership before the announcement of verdict on fake degree case, sources told Online on Wednesday.

Liaqat Ali Ghuman contested the elections on fake degree of the Punjab University and his rival, Azeem Noori Ghuman, had filed a petition in Election Tribunal Punjab. Justice Nasir Saeed of Lahore High Court (LHC) was hearing the case but member Punjab Assembly has sent his resignation to party's leadership before the verdict, said the sources.

According to sources, Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif did not send the PML-N MPA resignation to speaker Punjab Assembly for approval. Spokesperson for Punjab government, Senator Pervez Rashid when contacted told this news agency that the case of Liaqat Ali Ghuman is under trial in Election Tribunal and expressed his unawareness about his resignation as member Provincial Assembly.

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QAU earthquake workshop
Islamabad: The two-day workshop on 'Indo-Asia Continental Collision' concluded here on Tuesday.

The workshop was organised by the Earth Sciences Department, Quaid-i-Azam University, in collaboration with the National Science Foundation, USA, and universities of Balochistan, Peshawar and Sargodha.

Dr. Shuhab Khan from the University of Houston was the moving spirit behind the two-day moot. Dr. Zulfiqar Ahmed, chairman of the Earth Sciences Department, QAU, conducted the proceedings.

The scientists from University of Colorado, Oregon State University, University of Houston, University of Illinois, Chicago, University of Kentucky from USA and all major Pakistani universities presented their research on topics, including earthquake hazards in Pakistan, geotectonic, crustal deformation, origin of Himalayas and global climate change.

Most of the foreign speakers observed that only five GPS (geographical positioning system) instruments mostly under universities are installed at different locations in Pakistan for measuring the changes in the subsurface of earth.

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Upgraded pay scales for college teachers demanded
Rawalpindi: The All Pakistan Professors and Lecturers Association (APPLA) has urged the government to upgrade pay scales of college professors and lecturers as they are facing hardships due to financial constraints.

Addressing a press conference here on Wednesday, representatives of different organisations from all across the country, including Balochistan Professors and Lecturers Association, Punjab Professors and Lecturers Association, Sindh Professors and Lecturers Association and Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa College Teachers Association said that college lecturers and professors were facing numerous problems due to their low salaries.

APPLA President Professor Sabz Ali Marwat said that every year the government celebrates 'Salam Teachers Day' to pay tributes to nation-builders, but nothing is being done to improve their living standard. "This is the main reason that teachers are facing a hard time and they are hardly able to meet their expenses." He said that all professors and lecturers in colleges are working in grade-17, whereas university professors and lecturers with same qualification and work experience are enjoying BPS-18, which is unjustifiable," he added.

He recalled that former prime minister Shaukat Aziz announced upgradation of pay scales of all professors and lecturers four years ago, but since then college professors and lecturers have been struggling for their due rights.

The APPLA also announced its recommendations and urged the government to fulfil all their demands as soon as possible.

It demanded that one-step promotion should be given to college teachers like university teachers, and at least 6 per cent of GDP should be allocated for education sector. They demanded that the time-scale formula as announced by the government of Balochistan for college teachers should be extended to all provinces, federal capital and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. They demanded that scholarships and other facilities given for higher education to university teachers should be extended to college teachers, 30 per cent and 20 per cent of the running basic pay scale should be earmarked for college teachers as medical allowance and conveyance allowance respectively.

The APPLA also demanded that allowances like ad hoc increase and dearness allowance should be merged in the BPS, which should be revised with 100 per cent increase and interest on GP Fund should be given on the previous rates and professional and teaching allowance for college teachers may be approved. It said that house rent allowance should be paid at 80 per cent of the BPS irrespective of the place of duty of lecturers and professor to facilitate them.

The College Teachers Academies and Research Centres may be established all over the country to improve the skill level and quality of the college sector and funds for seminars, workshops and internal and foreign study visits should be introduced for the college teachers, it demanded.

The APPLA announced that professors and lecturers would hold a protest camp in Islamabad on May 26. It also decided to fully support the All Pakistan Employees Federation in their sit-in in front of the Parliament House on May 19.

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PAL confers 'Pas-e-Zindan Awards'
Islamabad: The Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) conferred 'Pas-i-Zindan Awards' for the best books written during the periods of martial law in Pakistan. The award distribution ceremony, held at the Prime Minister's Secretariat Tuesday evening, was chaired by Federal Minister for Education Sardar Aseff Ahmed Ali.

Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's book 'If I Am Assassinated', Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani's 'Chah-e-Yusuf Se Sada', Makhdoom Javed Hashmi's 'Takhta-i-Dar Kay Saey Talay', Habib Jalib's 'Kuliyat-e-Habib Jalib', Hameed Akhtar's 'Kal Kothri', Zafarullah Poshni's 'Zindagi Zindan Dili Ka Naam Hai' and Tariq Khursheed's book 'Soey-Dar - Kia Main Dehshet Gard Tha' were adjudged the best books for the award.

The award for Z A Bhutto Shaheed was received by PAL Chairman Fakhar Zaman, while Sardar Aseff Ahmed Ali received the award for Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani. Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, Zafarullah Poshni and Tariq Khursheed received their awards themselves. Awards for Habib Jalib and Hameed Akhter were received by their daughters, Tahira Habib and Saba Hameed, respectively.

Hashmi, Poshni and Khursheed shared their experiences in prison and about their books on the occasion. Tahira Habib and Saba Hameed also shared a few words about their illustrious fathers.

Sardar Aseff Ahmed Ali said those people are brave and great who fought with pen against oppression and deserve due respect and tribute. He said it is a fact that the whole nation sacrificed for the restoration of freedom of media and expression. Without an active civil society, protection of democracy is not possible and it is civil society, which came into action at the time of the judicial campaign, he added.

Sarder Assef said that he would request the prime minister to grant a fund worth Rs10 millions for PAL. He praised the writers who suffered in jails and produced such great books. "As a student of history, culture, law and literature, I know that human beings have long been subjected to oppression. Those who exhibited guts to challenge the dark era were always chained and condemned to prison. The tales of such oppression are long and very painful," he said. He praised his political colleagues sitting on the presidium, who have personally experienced such brutal treatment under dictatorships in the past. He added that there are many others who could not pen down their experience for one reason or the other.

Sarder Assef also praised PAL for selecting such historic documents to top the list of other important writings from the jail that the prisoners of conscience in Pakistan have written during their incarceration, including veteran journalist Hameed Akhtar's 'Kaal Kothri', Javed Hashmi's 'Takhta Dar ke Saey Talay', Tariq Khurshid's 'Suey Daar', and that remarkably jolly account of jail life from the pen of Zafarullah Poshni. The time has come to give them due recognition as heroes and comrades, he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Fakhar Zaman said during the periods of martial law, prisoners not only waged political struggle but also penned down the era of prison, and many books regarding Pas-e-Zindan Award were published.

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Beaconites hold musical evening
Rawalpindi: The Beaconhouse School System, Primary Branch, Peshawar Road, organised a musical evening titled 'Nightingales,' says a press release.

The talented students paid tribute to the golden, melodious songs of yesteryears and modern day hits during the competition.

The children sang from the foot-tapping Ali Zafar's 'Channo ki Aankh Mein' to the evergreen Ahmed Rushdi's 'Kokoko Rina.'

The audience which mainly comprised energetic students of class V danced to the beats of the songs and thoroughly enjoyed themselves and cheered for the participants.

The young singers exhibited their singing skills in front of an audience comprising parents, teachers, students and former headmistress Ayesha Sohail, who was the chief guest.

They all lauded the effort of music teachers Imran Ahsen and of course the participants.

The evening ended with a special 'sufi' song of Abida Perveen 'Dam Must Qalandar,' which was the highlight of the musical evening and left the audience mesmerized. The programme was hosted by young and confident students, who sailed through the programme smoothly, even during power breaks.

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MSc Distinction
Islamabad: Samiullah Abrar has obtained first position in MSc Applied Physics in 2007-09 session, says a press release. Dr. Ashfaq Ahmad, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission and adviser to the prime minister on science & technology, gave him a gold medal at the convocation of the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science & Technology here recently. The news

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