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Closure of Peshawar educational institutions

Private schools closed in Peshawar for three days
Peshawar: The NWFP government resolved not to close the public sector educational institutions as the private institutions and those run by the Peshawar University administration were shut on Monday for three days because of terror threats in the wake of the military operation in Waziristan.

The commissioner of Kohat officially announced closure of schools and colleges in the division till October 24. The administration of the Peshawar University had ordered closure of all the boys and girls schools on the campus after reports that a teenage bomber in a white car was to hit target in the area. The colleges and different departments of the four universities on the campus, however, will remain open.

Barricades were erected to block all the routes leading to the departments and boys and girls hostels of the four public sector universities after a tip-off about the terror bid was received. "We have made adequate arrangements to secure the departments and hostels," said Inspector Waqar Ahmad, station house officer of the University Campus Police Station.

The official made it clear that only schools on the campus had been closed while the colleges and the remaining institutions would continue working as per routine. A missionary school on the campus has been closed till October 25 while the rest of the institutes will reopen on October 22. The news

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Alarm in Pakistan educational institutions
Islamabad: Truth is one casualty of militancy and the resultant war that Pakistan is besieged with. The other is education. It started in Swat where the Taliban launched their campaign against female education three years ago by torching and bombing schools. Now schools all over the country are under threat - perhaps not so much from attacks by militants as panic, fear and mass confusion.

What happened on Monday was a classic case of this situation. With the start of the army operation in South Waziristan, it was feared - and not unrealistically - that the Taliban would retaliate by stepping up attacks on civilians. But as is the government's wont, this eventuality had not been anticipated and no feasible strategy for security was in place. As a result, when the authorities received intelligence reports of schools in some regions being potential targets their knee-jerk reaction was to shut down educational institutions in Islamabad. Schools in Peshawar and Lahore also decided to close while in Sindh there has been confusion with some schools announcing a holiday.

This is no doubt a tricky situation. On the one hand, one cannot take risks and expose children to unnecessary dangers. On the other, it will devastate the psyche of the people if a climate of panic is created when it may not really be warranted. The authorities have to strike a balance between the two. These are not normal times and a sensible approach would be for the education authorities in each province to work out security guidelines with the help of the security and law-enforcement agencies. All institutions should be formally notified about them and where needed offered assistance and cooperation.

Above all it should be ensured that heightened security measures such as drills are actually implemented. If schools are in a state of preparedness it would be possible for them to follow the prescribed procedures smoothly if an emergency arises. There are two basic principles that must be strictly followed. First, panic should not be spread among children. Second, parents must be kept informed at all times as that is their right.

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UK degree-holders found gross inequalities
London: Britian is becoming increasingly divided along educational lines with degree black spots springing up in the poorest areas of the country as graduates flock to the capital.

An analysis of the number of degree-holders in every constituency in Britain finds gross inequalities with more than 60 per cent of working adults having graduated in some areas compared with less than 10 per cent in others. The gap has grown significantly in three years despite government spending of 1.9bn trying to widen the university participation since 2005.

The research reveals that in the poorest areas the proportion of the working-age population with a degree is falling while in the richest it rose dramatically between 2005 and 2008.

While disproportionately high numbers of people achieve degrees in wealthy areas, those who graduate from poorer postcodes are very unlikely to ever return to their hometown after leaving university, creating vast areas of the country with a severe lack of highly skilled people, the research suggests. It also illustrates the mass migration of graduates to London each year which experts said now outweighs migration to the capital from outside the country.

The research, an analysis of the number of people of working age with degrees in every parliamentary constituency conducted by the lecturers' union UCU, finds that the proportion of graduates rose from 26.6 per cent in 2005 to 29 per cent in 2008, reflecting the government's rapid expansion of universities over previous years. But that proportion ranged from 63.61 per cent in Richmond Park, London - a 12 percentage point increase over three years - to just 9.91 per cent in Birmingham, Hodge Hill.

Together, the 20 constituencies with the highest rates of graduates saw the proportion rise to 57.2 per cent - an eight percentage point increase over the three years. In the 20 areas with the lowest proportion of degree holders, the figure was 12.1 per cent - a 0.5 percentage point decrease on 2003 suggesting the gap is getting wider.

Sally Hunt, the general secretary of the lecturers' union the UCU, said: "Education holds the key to improving social mobility, tackling poverty and extending opportunity for all. Those with the greatest access to qualifications tend to be healthier, wealthier and more active citizens. Yet, as this report shows, the current divide between the haves and have-nots is growing with where you live largely determining your chance to educational success."

The report documents stark regional differences. Of the 20 constituencies with the lowest rate of graduates, eight are in the West Midlands, including the bottom four spots. The region has been among the worst hit by job losses and the recession. Meanwhile, 11 of the top 20 are in London. They include the most well-to-do corners of the capital - including Richmond, Hampstead and Kensington. But they also include areas such as Wood Green, Hackney and Battersea, which are increasingly attracting new graduates moving to the capital.

Danny Dorling, professor of human geography at Sheffield University, said: "We are seeing higher and higher numbers of graduates moving to London. There is an amazing effect in London where increasing numbers of people are getting degrees but there is also an influx of people with degrees looking for jobs.

"It is creating a widening polarisation in the country where some areas are depressed and kept poor because graduates don't return once they've got a degree while in other areas house prices are forced up because so many higher earning graduates want to live there. It's a very sad polarisation of the country that just hasn't happened in other parts of the world."

The research finds intense contrasts locally: in Sheffield Hallam, the constituency of the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, 60 per cent of adults have a degree compared with just 15 per cent in David Blunkett's neighbouring Sheffield Brightside.

The data was derived from the Annual Population Survey as well as data from the Office for National Statistics .

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: "The government has worked hard to widen participation with the overall number of students from lower socio-economic groups going to university at its highest point in seven years. With investment at record levels, real progress is being made across England with marked growth." -The Guardian (Dawn)

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