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HEC budget 2011-12 & WB targets

Allocation in budget for HEC not enough to meet WB targets
Islamabad, May 16: The allocation of Rs14 billion in the 2011-12 budget for the Higher Education Commission (HEC) is less than what has been committed to the World Bank (WB) in order to get the loan of $300 million, which increases the chances of reduction in the amount of loan.

According to well-placed sources, it has been clearly mentioned in the agreement between the government of Pakistan (GoP) and WB that a minimum allocation of Rs16.5 billion would be made in the development budget of the HEC. "The document clearly states that a minimum amount of Rs16.5 billion would be made for the development of higher education sector, which is Rs2.5 billion less than what has been approved by the Annual Plan Coordination Committee (APCC)," sources revealed.

Sources believe that the targets set by the WB are unlikely to be met by the HEC in the current budget, which might reduce the amount of the WB loan. The targets, which have been set by the WB, include increase in the number of scholarships, increase in the number of publications, easy accessibility to academic institutions and improvement in quality of education and also increase in the number of tenure track teachers.

However the HEC seems unable to meet all these targets with the minimal allocation of Rs589.319 million for new projects. It is pertinent to mention that there has not been any increase in the number of scholarships, number of publications or number of tenure track teachers in the forthcoming budget. "The officials of WB would visit Pakistan in a few days after which they would decide if the amount of the loan would remain the same or reduced in the given circumstances," sources revealed.

The loan, which has been committed by the WB, is called International Development Association (IDA), which is given to the poorest and most sought after by many developing countries. For the tertiary education project, $110 million of the IDA credit would carry a 0.75 per cent service charge fee, maximum commitment charges at 0.5 per cent, a 10-year grace period, and maturity of 35 years. It is not for the first time that HEC has been granted loan by WB, but one year ago, World Bank has given a soft loan of $100 million to the government of Pakistan for the progress of higher education sector. Keeping in view the utilisation of money of previous loan, WB has once again granted the loan with the conditions to meet various targets.

It is also pertinent to mention here that a total of Rs40 billion, including both the recurring and development budget, has been allocated for HEC, which is at least Rs8 billion less than what has been required to meet the expanses.

HEC Chairman Javaid Laghari said that the amount allocated for the HEC was not enough to meet the targets set by the WB. "We are hopeful that the government would revisit the allocation and increase the amount in order to get benefited from the WB loan," he said.

He confirmed that the officials of the WB would visit Pakistan and there were chances for reduction in the loan amount.

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NAVTEC's certificates to be acceptable abroad
Islamabad: Certificates issued by the National Vocational and Technical Education Commission's (NAVTEC) enrolled vocational institutes to their successful trainees will be acceptable in foreign countries.

Chairman NAVTEC Muhammad Mumtaz Akhtar Kahloon said our skilled manpower will not only get job easily in the country but also in Europe, Afro-American, Asian and Arabian countries. He thanked all members of the National Assembly including opposition for passing NAVTEC Bill 2008, with consensus.

He said that with the existence of NAVTEC at federal level, the PPP government will succeed in imparting vocational & technical education and training equally and without any discrimination to jobless youth of most backward areas of all provinces, AJK and FATA. He said that skilled manpower mean prosperous Pakistan.

It is pertinent to mention here that NAVTEC was established in 2005, through an ordinance. He said that he took charge on December 20, 2010, as its chairman and thus he succeeded in getting passed NAVTEC Bill from the NA in just less than five months period.

The chairman said that perhaps all governments of the past totally failed in realising the performance of NAVTEC and its important role in economic development of the country. That is why they could not highlight the role of this very important organization. He said that NAVTEC which provides Vocational & Technical Education and Training to jobless youths throughout the country will not only play a key role in getting accredited the curricula and skill standards of Provincial TEVTAs (Technical Education & Vocational

Training Authority) at international level but will also get affiliated all its enrolled institutes with overseas TVETs (Technical & Vocational Education Training). The news

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Salaries of rehired FDE staff stopped
Islamabad: The Auditor General of Pakistan Revenues (AGPR) has frozen the salaries of more than 600 employees of the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE), in the belief that they were hired on fake documents.

Documents available show that the action relates to 620 people that the FDE reinstated to implement a presidential ordinance promulgated in 2009.

The employees teaching and non-teaching staff were hired on contract during the 1993-1996 second Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government of Benazir Bhutto. They were all sacked by the next government headed by Nawaz Sharif.

When the PPP returned to power in 2008, the 600 plus were reinstated, after the ordinance was passed as an act by the parliament in 2010. As the applicants started pouring in, the directorate prepared cases of these candidates for reinstatement. In the first phase, a list of little over 400 employees was prepared and sent to the AGPR and their salaries were released.

"However, complaints were lodged challenging that many of these individuals have been reinstated on fake documents," said a senior official of the Capital Administration Division (CAD). The official, who requested not to be named, said the complaints triggered scrutiny of the reinstated employees in collaboration with the various departments of the Ministry of Education.

"It was found that most of those reinstated are illegitimate applicants. Many were never appointed when hiring began in 1993 but presented forged documents this time and got offices. Several who were hired did not have legitimate papers."

It was during the second and third phases when the AGPR objected to the credentials of the remaining FDE employees. "AGPR froze salaries of the entire lot and asked for thoroughly verifying their credentials," the official said. The Federal Investigation Agency has also been engaged in the scrutiny.

During investigations, nearly 70 cases surfaced who were issued show cause notices. A little over 30 have filed writ petitions in Islamabad and Lahore high courts against the notices.

The latest FDE request for release of salaries was met with unusually harsh written response by the AGPR. Telling the directorate that its creditability "is pretty low due to issuance of several lists subsequently declared as superseded, fake and bogus," the AGPR requested FDE Director-General Chaudhry Nazir to look into the matter personally.

The AGPR has also asked the DG to authenticate the documents of the rehired employees and communicate them to the Accountant General through the secretary CAD. "There is no record of how many were hired but the numbers ranged between 600 and 700. The records are missing and nobody has a clue how many of them are genuine," said the official. Though the directorate has submitted lists of the employees several times for the release of salaries, they have been rejected by the AGPR. Dawn

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AIOU relief fund to educate needy students: VC
Islamabad: Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) has set up International Relief Fund to bring education to the doorsteps of needy students at affordable rates in the far-flung areas. Talking to APP, AIOU Vice Chancellor Nazir A. Sangi said the relief fund has been set up to acquire funding from the charity persons inside and outside the country and utilise it for the benefit of needy students.

So far, 15,000 Euro and 2500 dollars have been contributed in the relief fund by charity persons which are being spent on providing fee concession to the poor students of backward areas.

AIOU is revisiting its syllabus to incorporate the market-oriented study patterns for employability of the students, following the international standards.

The university has engaged its 16 faculty members to deliberate over improving the syllabus of matric, intermediate and graduation levels according to the socio-economic needs.

The university is extending educational facilities to the poor students of far-flung areas of the country at affordable fee, he added.

He said that the AIOU is establishing its regional campuses in Bahawalpur, Gujranwala, D.G Khan, Skardu, Umer Kot, Dadu, Mithi, Turbut, Rahimyar Khan, Sahiwal, Sukkur, Larkana, Thatha, Badin and other remote areas of the country so that the students there can avail the facility.

He said AIOU is providing modern ICT facilities to its regional campuses as well as arranging lectures of prominent scholars in the far-flung areas through video conferencing. The university will soon establish its regional campus in Umer Kot for which land has been acquired from the government. The campus will comprise over 45 rooms where the facility of computer lab, vocational training and hostel will be provided for the students.

While the university will set up an IT institute in Jacobabad and regional campus in backward area of Kohistan soon. He said AIOU, being a largest distant learning university, is educating 1.2 million students across the country with the help of 50,000 tutors.

Sangi informed that the university will provide training to its 30,000 tutors for their capacity building. The university has planned to offer language courses to Overseas Pakistanis so that they can contribute in different fields without language barrier while living abroad. The courses of Spanish, Chinese, English, French and German languages will be offered initially and the programme will be expanded in future, he added.

He said AIOU also offering education planning and management course to train the people of rural areas, making them future leaders. The university has dispatched 172,000 textbooks to the students for the Semester Spring before time and the university has never denied admission to any student from matric to graduation level, he added. While giving admission to the students of M Phil and PhD, the university has to fulfill the criteria of Higher Education Commission (HEC), he said.

The university has already established a hardship committee to resolve the issues of the students across the country. The committee has received 12,000 complaints which have reduced to 1000 only.

The vice chancellor said that the university will give 500 awards to the students who will exhibit outstanding performance in extra-curricular activities including performing arts, paintings, debate, social work and other fields.

The university has provided subsidy worth Rs 17 million to the flood affected students in their educational expenditures.

About the budget of the university, Sangi said AIOU is itself generating major part of its budget and acquire less funding from the government. The university is one of the largest universities in the world and is given only two scholarships by Higher Education Commission (HEC), Sangi said.

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Twin-city sports gala starts at NUST
Islamabad: The NUST Adventure Club launched a three-day twin-city sports gala, The Rift 11 in which all universities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad are taking part, says a press release.

While speaking at the opening ceremony NUST Adventure Club President Anam Shabbir Rathor highlighted the importance of sports and adventure.

Later on, NUST Rector Lieutenant General (r) Engineer Muhammad Asghar appreciated the activity and advised the students to participate in extra-curricular activities for their personality grooming.

The participants will fight in different competitions of Rift and will be judged on their task completion and level of originality shown. Different event categories are designed to initiate interest amongst aspiring adventurers. The events categories in Rift include Scavenger Hunt, Swimming, Triathlon, Arm Wrestling, Rock Climbing, Trekking, Tug of War.

Institutes that are participating in the event are UET Taxila, Rifah University, Islamic International University, Comsats Institute of Information Technology Islamabad, Army Medical College, EME, MCE Risalpur, Bahria University, PIYAS, National College of Arts, Fatima Jinnah Women University, and Air University. Over five hundred participants are attending the event which will end today (Sunday).

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Reception held for QAU alumni scholarship holders
Islamabad: A reception was held in honour of Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) Alumni Scholarship holders enrolled at QAU, which was attended by senior QAU Alumni members, university officials and students.

Murtaza Noor, Secretary General of QAU Alumni Association, informed the participants that Alumni Association has awarded 36 scholarships to the enrolled students belonging to remote areas of Pakistan in the fields of social and natural sciences.

The senior Alumni members have donated these scholarships. The scholarship amount covers the tuition fee, hostel and mess charges. The senior members and office-bearers of the Alumni Association appreciated the cooperation extended by the QAU administration to make the Alumni scholarship programme more transparent and successful. They assured the cooperation for welfare of the students of QAU.

The students vowed that after completion of their higher studies they would work for the development and prosperity of Pakistan with more devotion and commitment. They also promised that in their practical life each of them would sponsor the study cost of one student.

It was informed that QAU Alumni Association would organise a get-together of senior Alumni members with the Chancellor QAU in near future. On the occasion Life Achievement Awards would be awarded to the old graduate students of QAU from the batches till 1975. The ceremony would also include inauguration of various new projects jointly initiated by the QAU Alumni Association and Quaid-i-Azam University. Through an MoU signed recently between Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad and Quaid-i-Azam University Alumni Association, both the organizations have agreed to extend cooperation for the benefit of the present and old students of Quaid-i-Azam University. Though this MoU it was decided that QAU Alumni Association would offer certain need based scholarships to the students of QAU. Any student who gets education at QAU from remote areas of Pakistan would be financially supported by the QAU Alumni Association. QAU Alumni Association would also assist the students of QAU in career counselling and job placement. Both the organizations would also undertake different welfare programmes for the benefit of present and former students of QAU. The news

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