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Revival of student unions | Uniform education system

Revival of student unions elicits mixed reactions
Peshawar, April 29, 2008: The announcement by the coalition government that it would lift the ban on student unions has received a mixed response.

Fearing the politicisation of "already polarised" educational institutions, some people have said that the decision of the government was an excellent step in the right direction. Others expressed their reservations about the decision, saying it would disturb the peaceful atmosphere of educational institutions.

Peshawar University Teachers Association (PUTA) President Dr Arbab Khan Afridi hailed the decision and said that the revival of student unions would help in the political grooming of students, arguing student unions would train those students who wanted to become involved in politics.

Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani in his first address to the National Assembly had announced the decision to lift the ban on student and labour unions. The Islami Jamiat-e-Talba (IJT), the Pashtun Students Federation (PkSF) and the People's Students Federation (PSF) also applauded the decision.

Unfair demands: Kamran Khan, an MA final year student at the University of Peshawar (UoP) Sociology Department, however, has said that the unions would destroy the environment of educational institutions, as student leaders might use their authority to pressurise the administration to fulfil their 'unfair' demands. Ismail Zada, Gohar Ali and Mohammad Nouman of the NWFP Agricultural University also expressed their reservations about student unions. They said that members of student unions secured more course marks due to their political clout than those who worked hard for the entire academic session but were not politically active.

Both proponents and opponents of the decision to revive student unions said a code of conduct for student unions should be implemented. Students, who did not have any ties with student wings of political parties, were of the opinion that affiliation with student unions adversely affected studies, as political activities were time-consuming. Salman, a UoP Geology Department student, said "It is true that student unions would help in producing good politicians for the future but their revival would adversely affect the production of technical and professional manpower."

Kamal Shah, a student at the NWFP University of Engineering and Technology (UET) Peshawar, said, "Student unions do not hamper the production of quality manpower. Prominent political leaders got their political training during their student life. Good engineers and doctors were also produced during the time when student unions were working in the country." Students unions were banned by General Ziaul Haq in 1984 and were partially restored by Benazir Bhutto in 1988. In 1992, Chief Justice of Pakistan Naseem Hassan Shah lifted the ban through a verdict but the succeeding government did not implement the decision of the court. Daily Times

Uniform education system promised
Lahore: Federal Education Minister Ahsan Iqbal has expressed the resolve to ensure a uniform educational system at all levels in the country.

Addressing a reception on his visit to Punjab University New Campus here on Monday evening, the minister said that whole value chain would be integrated through synergizing the entire education system with industry and global needs.

During last eight years, he said, the focus was on higher education with its annual budget increased from Rs 3 billion to Rs 33 billion, while primary and secondary levels of education were totally neglected..

The minister said that in the first phase, the public education system would be reformed and integrated, for which a National Curriculum Council was being formulated, while an education city would also be established in Islamabad.

He said a summit of all stakeholders would be arranged to debate the new national education policy which would be tabled in the National Assembly. "We will get the new education policy signed by the leaders of all political parties so that no one can change it for at least next 10 years," he added.

Ahsan said today four million children were out of schools for which the government would launch a national campaign to enrol them (into schools) to increase the literacy rate.

The minister said that a bilingual education system with equal space to Urdu and English should be put in order to make our students compatible with the world.

Ahsan Iqbal said Federal Education Ministry was formulating the service structure for the teachers so as to ensure their promotion after a certain period of service but on performance basis.

On this occasion PU faculty deans, institutes' directors, heads of departments and other faculty members gave their suggestions to improve the country's education system. APP

BHC directs varsity not to reinstate teachers
Quetta: A division bench of the Balochistan High Court has directed the administration of the Balochistan University not to reinstate the two teachers it had sacked, saying the administration should not bow to pressures of politicians and the academic staff association.

Agha Mohammad Nasir and Zakir Hussain Jadoon had been dismissed by the university administration.

The bench comprising Chief Justice Amanullah Khan Yasinzai and Justice Akhtar Zaman Malghani was hearing on Monday a petition filed by Syed Saleem Akhtar about the deplorable condition of educational institutions in Balochistan.

The court also directed the provincial chief secretary to tell the Balochistan government to refrain from interfering in the affairs of the university because it was an autonomous body funded by the Higher Education Commission.

The court asked the administration to take disciplinary action against professors and teachers who had not been taking classes regularly and directed heads of departments to report about those members of the academic staff association who did not perform their duty.

The court expressed concern over politicising the dismissal of the two teachers. Dawn
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