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Education should remain federal subject

VCs want education to remain federal subject
Lahore: Oct 25: Punjab University Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran has said the vice-chancellors of all universities in the country have resolved that education should remain within the jurisdiction of federation instead of giving it to provinces under the 18th Amendment.

Prof Kamran was speaking at the concluding ceremony of a three-day third international conference on "Education in Pakistan: Issues, Challenges and Reforms", organised by the Faculty of Education at varsity's Undergraduate Block on Saturday.

He said the vice-chancellors believed that the higher education could be promoted a great deal if it remained with the federal government. In case of transferring education to the provinces, he said, the VCs apprehended that they would remain involved in "bureaucratic issues" at the provincial level.

He said the foremost issue and challenge facing education in Pakistan was that leadership at the highest level did not understand how important it was to invest in the education sector. He regretted that the successive governments failed to invest in education and allocated even less than two per cent of GDP.

He said even more serious issue was the fact that the allocated budget remained unspent. He said the developed countries were allocating maximum of their budgets for education and utilising the allocated amounts properly.

Most schools in Punjab lacked even basic facilities and the situation could be improved if the government doubled the budget, he said.

Earlier, PU Faculty of Education Dean Prof Dr Hafiz Muhammad Iqbal said the conference had recommended that the education sector budget should be

increased from existing about 1.7 per cent to four per cent of the GNP. He also stressed that the government should also develop its capacity to utilise all allocated resources judiciously.

Prof Iqbal said the conference had recommended that the four-year BEd programme should be implemented in Punjab and by 2018 in other parts of the country. He also underlined the need to implement national professional standards by encouraging and providing training to the teachers.

He said the conference participants had also recommended that the government should give BS-16 to teachers after two/three years Associate Degree in Education and BS-17 on completion of four-year BEd programme. He suggested that the government should introduce low-cost reforms including assessing prospective teachers to teach a semester or a year in any school prior to formal completion of degree and regular appointments.

Prof Iqbal called for critical analysis of madressa education system, decline of enrolment among male gender at higher education and devising strategies to attract them towards teaching. He stressed that rural-urban gap should be filled in context of access to educational opportunities.

He called for more emphasis on formative system of assessment at all levels; on speaking and listening skills so as to promote communication skills of prospective teachers; and on effective use of ICT in education.

Dr Khalid Iqbal, who had come to participate in the conference from the USA, said only those nations would survive in the 21st century, which would invest heavily in education and develop knowledge economy. He was all praise for the conference that reflected research culture in the Punjab University.

Punjab Education Minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman, who came one hour and 10 minutes late at the conference's concluding session, explained in detail the initiatives taken by the Punjab government.

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College with one-man faculty starts admissions
Mianwali: The newly-built Government Degree College for Boys, Kundian, has started its operations by offering admissions to first year and third year students in science disciplines – but without even a single teacher on its faculty to impart education to either science or arts students.

A BS-17 economics lecturer was recently appointed principal of the college and he alone constitutes the faculty of this degree college. Students as well as their parents have expressed concern over the situation, urging education bosses to ensure provision of teaching staff to this newly-built college at the earliest.

The college faces numerous other problems like absence of electricity and drinking water and paints a very grim picture of the high priority our successive governments would attach to this vital sector.

The provincial education department started constructing five degree colleges in the district in July 2005, including the Rs33.50 million Government Degree College for Boys, Kundian. The 24-month projects, however, could only near their completion in not less than five years.

On repeated requests made by DO (Colleges) Ahmed Hassan Khan Niazi and the then DCO, Waseem Ajmal Chaudhry, however, the buildings department handed over the 'incomplete' building of the college to the former official on Oct 30, 2009.

Soon after the building was handed over to the DO (Colleges), he started correspondence with the Punjab higher education secretary to grant/sanction the schedule of new expenditures (SNE), including hiring of principal and teaching and ministerial staff and release of running fund to make the college functional.

A principal was, however, appointed belatedly in August 2010 and he was tasked with making the college functional – without recruiting any teaching and ministerial staff at the outset. It was also ironical that a BS-17 lecturer of Piplan college, Iqbal Hussain Kundi, was appointed principal against a BS-19 vacancy, owing to his political connections. As a face-saving move, sources added, the higher education department was likely to promote the principal to BS-18 to avoid the emerging criticism.

Principal Kundi, however, ventured on inviting admission forms from students for enrollment to FSc and BSc classes – patently without caring for the future of the enrolled students.

The college is still working without electricity after thieves stole power supply meter and cables soon after installation because no security guard had been deployed there. Also, the building has not been provided with the facility of potable water supply.

Last but not the least, the education department had purchased furniture and fixtures, laboratory equipment, library books, computers etc. for all the five under-construction colleges two years ago and dumped the goods at the offices of project directors or storerooms available to them without foreseeing the impact of dumping on the utilisation of these articles after an indefinite time period.

The principal of Government Degree College for Boys, Liaqatabad, was project director for the Government Degree College for Boys, Kundian, and all the equipment and ancillary material is supposedly lying with him. One could imagine the impact of dumping on the quantity and quality of the equipment for such a long span of time. Rusting and gradual wear and tear will definitely have taken its toll on these goods.

Reservations about faulty purchases of material also surfaced at that time, demanding high-level inquiries into the buying process. However, nothing concrete step was taken to shed these reservations which otherwise suggest that procurement process was not wholly transparent.

Mohammad Ramzan, a resident of Kundian, said that they wanted seeing a college running in their locality but the education department had done injustice to the local people by not providing adequate number of teachers to the new college.

Ghulam Rasool Kloo, a student, said that he and his friends were happy to see a college in their hometown but what would be the fate of hundreds of students who would get themselves enrolled in a college having no faculty at all.

D.O (Colleges) Ahmed Hassan Khan Niazi was optimistic that the shortage of academic and ministerial staff would be met in the coming days and students would be getting proper education in the Kundian college.

He said that buildings of the remaining four colleges were still incomplete and these institutions would become functional in due course of time. Dawn

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Assessment of prospective teachers stressed before degree
Lahore: A recent conference on education has highlighted a much-needed initiative of assessing prospective teachers by teaching a semester or year in any school prior to formal completion of degree.

If implemented, it will be the beginning of low-cost reforms in the countryís education system besides helping the government to meet the shortage of schoolteachers on an emergent basis. This idea along with a number of other key recommendations emerged from the 3rd international conference "Education in Pakistan: Issues, Challenges & Reforms" organised by the Faculty of Education, Punjab University, last week.

Over the years, the countryís educationists and academicians have been stressing teachers training to raise the standard of education while millions of rupees have actually been spent in this regard but desirable results are not in sight, especially in school education. The opportunity to teach during studies, especially for those getting degrees in education, can provide training to prospective teachers as well as a practical chance to deal with teaching-related challenges.

However, academic circles are of the view that there is need to go beyond just engaging prospective teachers to teach prior to formal completion of degree and suggest that teaching in a school should be mandatory before the award of degree to all the graduates.

A senior educationist, Prof Dr Hafiz Muhammad Iqbal, who is also Dean Faculty of Education at Punjab University, is of the view that mandatory internship of teaching for prospective graduates can prove a great help in increasing the literacy rate in the country. He believes that the initiative, if implemented, will not only be low-cost but also timesaving to meet the growing demand of teachers. Prof Muhammad Iqbal, who has 52 research articles to his credit, of which a good number are published in foreign journals, says the government should offer mandatory internship to college and university students to teach at schools, especially in rural areas, for some time or at least ask them to teach some illiterate persons and make them literate before the award of degree. He said madrassas should not resist introduction of contemporary subjects, adding that many subjects which, though not directly related to religion, are already in the Dars-e-Nizami such as logic, Ilm-ul-Kalam and medicine.

To explain his point of view, Prof Iqbal, who has also earned a degree from a madrassa, has said that once contemporary subjects such as English, mathematics and social studies, are introduced in madrassas, the college and university students can also be engaged for teaching there. He believes this will also help remove prevailing misconceptions about madrassa education in the country.

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Vested interests opposing four-year degree: minister
Lahore: Punjab Minister for Education Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman, defending the new four-year degree programme in 26 selected colleges of the province, has said that a particular political party and a student group are opposing the said initiative for their vested interests.

He was talking to reporters after concluding a ceremony of the 3rd International Conference "Education in Pakistan: Issues, Challenges & Reforms" held at Punjab University (PU) New Campus on Saturday. The minister was referring to Jamat-e-Islami (JI) and Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT) however when asked he only named the IJT. To a question he replied that parliamentarians from coalition partner PPP had opposed the said programme, as they did not have a clear idea about it however they were satisfied once they were briefed in detail about the initiative.

Answering yet another question as to why a number of top officials of different universities including PU whose appointments were being dubbed as illegal after the recent judgment of the Lahore High Court (LHC), Mujtaba said the officials would be removed after a proper procedure, adding a summary in this regard had been forwarded to the Chief Minister.

It is pertinent to mention that the minister reached the venue after a delay of over one hour. Earlier, speaking at the concluding ceremony, Mujtaba said the Punjab government under the dynamic leadership of Chief Minister Punjab Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif had introduced revolutionary reforms in education sector.

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PEF scheme
Lahore: The Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) has planned to launch the education voucher scheme in 13 different districts of the province where poor children are unable to get education due to lack of resources. According to a DGPR handout, PEF Chairman Raja Muhammad Anwar said this while talking to a 10-member delegation of a voluntary organisation, Education, Health and Development Foundation, headed by its President Raja Fazil Hussain here on Saturday. The PEF chairman informed the delegation that the EVS was going to be launched in the districts of Bhakkar, Khushab, Mianwali, Okara, Gujrat, Sialkot, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Khanewal, Rahim Yar Khan, Bahawalpur, Muzaffargarh and Vehari during the current fiscal year. The EVS will enable the poor girls and boys of these districts to get quality education, he added.

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Indian students spend eventful day
Lahore: The delegation of Indian students and teachers spent an eventful day in the provincial metropolis on Saturday.

The delegation is here under the Indo-Pak Peace Project for Education between the Sanjan Nagar Public Education Trust (SNPET), Pakistan, and the Millennium School, Amritsar, India.

Early in the day, scholar Dr Arifa Zehra addressed the students and shared her experiences with them. She shared the lessons she had learnt from her life with the students who keenly listened to her and asked her questions. She said a book was the best friend of any young person and knowledge about whatever was around us was the must, be it the curriculum or beyond it.

Later, the students participated in the poster making activity. Indian and Pakistani students made different posters on the topic of friendship and peace in groups. A warm-up activity was also organised for students in which they enthusiastically took part. Students of kindergarten presented a puppet show. Afterwards, the students were taken to watch Ajoka Theatre's play "DARA".

During the play, students looked very happy and cheerful.

Shankar Musafir, Programme Manager of the Millennium School, said that students on both sides of the border should be provided more opportunities of regular interaction.

He said that by sharing feelings and experiences, the students could better understand each other and play a pivotal role to remove misunderstanding among the peoples of both the countries.

He said that such interactions were pivotal for building stronger bonds as rightly identified by the revolutionary Aman Ki Asha project.

Seema Gupta, a teacher, said students were very keen to come to Pakistan and to meet their Pakistani friends. She maintained that students got mixed up with each other and were enjoying here. She lauded the initiative taken by the two media groups of India and Pakistan saying that there was a need for others to follow their tracks. She said it was only through progressive communication and understanding each other at a human level rather than politically that we could shun the negative propaganda and strengthen our relationship.

Gurupdesh Singh, a grade-7 student, said that he had made new friends in Pakistan. He said that he had watched Lahore only on Pakistani TV channels and loved to be here. He maintained that he along with other Indian students would visit historical places of Lahore on Sunday.

Saru Kundra, a student of grade-7, said that he was eager coming to Pakistan but he was missing all his friends who did not get visa.

Samash, a grade-8 student, said that she found love from the Pakistani students and actively participated in the activities of the day. She said the visit had cleared many misconceptions regarding Pakistanis and she now understood that all the negativity was wrongly reported.

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NMC delegates visit LGH
Lahore: A 22-member delegation of under-training officers of the National Management College (NMC) visited the Lahore General Hospital on a study tour.

The delegation was led by NMC Advisor of Faculty Dr M Hashim Polizai.

According to a press release here on Sunday, the delegates visited various parts of the hospital and took great interest in brain angiography, fluoroscopy and endoscope.

Briefing them, Postgraduate Medical Institute Principal Prof Tariq Salahuddin said that 51 years ago the government had established a beggar house on Ferozepur Road, 17-kilometre from Lahore, but later it was converted into a hospital. He said that today the modern building of the hospital had modern techniques of medial field and it was providing free of cost medical facilities to the patients.

Prof Tariq Salahuddin also informed the delegation about the steps taken by Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif in th e fields of modern medical education, provision of free medicines to the patients and efforts to declare the LGH as a state-of-the-art institution. He said that patients arrived in Lahore General Hospital from all over the country, adding that the department of neurosurgery of the hospital was considered the centre of excellence in the country. He said the PGMI, Punjab, was only attached department of the LGH in the country where doctors came from all provinces of the country, including Azad Jammu and Kashmir, for specialisation. He said students were equipped with the latest research being done in the field of medicine in the world so that they could treat patients in a perfect manner. He said the alumni of the institute were performing their duties in local as well as international hospitals and teaching institutes. He also briefed the delegation on the solid waste system of the hospital, adding that the hospital had introduced a latest monitoring system to keep record of the patients. Defining the dialysis system of the hospital, Prof Tariq Salahuddin said that this was the only air-conditioned centre in Punjab with free of cost round the clock dialysis facility. The news

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