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Cuts in Education budget | The business of education

Govt cuts 33pc budget of Education Ministry
Islamabad, April 30: Facing budgetary shortfalls the government Tuesday imposed a cut of 33 per cent on the budgetary allocation of Education Ministry and out of the revised amount only 40 per cent has been released by the Ministry of Finance in the current financial year.

In the financial of 2008-09 the government had earmarked Rs. 6269.652 million in terms of development budget and Rs. 3338.537 million as non-development. But later on the amount for development was reduced to Rs. 4162 million.

The last quarter of the current fiscal year will end in June but so far the ministry has received only 1.3 billion out of Rs. 4.2 billion-revised budget.

However, in 2009-10 the ministry would secure additional amount of Rs. 355.128 million as for the next financial year the ministry has sent the proposal for allocating non-development budgetary allocation Rs. 3693.665 million and it has been learnt that the proposal has been approved.

Earlier, for the financial year of 2008-09 the Ministry had asked for nearly 15 billion rupees in its budget proposals forwarded to the Ministry of Finance and sought one hundred per cent increase in the annual development budget.

The ministry had demanded no increase in the non-development budget for the current fiscal year that was around Rs 3 billion while the non-development allocation was demanded as Rs 12 billion.

It has been learnt that the government has introduced a three-year midterm budgetary framework according to which the ministries would be earmarked three years budgetary allocations.

Out of three years, two years' budget would be indicative and the officials have been anticipating and planning a budget cut for the next three years.

It is also pertinent to mention here that the cabinet has approved a three-year budgetary framework for Higher Education Commission in which the recurring budgets will be increased only by 10 per cent, 8 per cent and 5 per cent respectively.

With an annual inflation of 23.5 per cent and rupee depreciation against the dollar of 20-30 per cent, this will mean a decrease in operating budgets of at least 40 per cent annually, a sure way to kill all the good work done in the last 6 years in the higher education sector. The Nation

Call for education budget increase
Islamabad: Speakers at a seminar here has called for devising pro-people policy, substantial increase in budgetary allocation up to 4 per cent for education and an effective mechanism to improve quality of education and adult literacy in the country.

They also asked media to play its role in sensitizing policymakers to make education high priority issue, says a press release here Wednesday.

The seminar titled "For a developed and peaceful Pakistan -- make every citizen literate," was organized by the Pakistan Coalition for Education (PCE), an umbrella of nationwide civil society organizations working for "free, quality education for all, irrespective of gender, religion and class differences that promotes peace, tolerance, democracy and justice and safeguards diversity".

"Public spending on education in Pakistan remains only 1.8 per cent of the GDP," says PCE national coordinator Zehra Arshad citing the Global Monitoring Report of Unesco.

"Currently Pakistan is placed at 136th position in the Human Development Index (HDI) by UNDP, lower than some of its neighbours," she said, stressing comprehensive strategies for improving the education standard. She said that education and literacy was currently not the priority of the state and there was a need of realization that with this sorry state of affairs the country can not meet the future challenges.

Senior journalist and Executive Director of Society for Alternative Media and Research Mazhar Arif highlighted the role of media in creating awareness among the people and sensitizing policymakers to make education a high priority issue.

He said the state and government should recognise media's role in framing education policy.

"State-owned media like PTV and Radio Pakistan should take a lead in promoting literacy through different programmes," he said, adding that it is the responsibility of the government to include literacy in its communication strategy.

The director, Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives, Mukhtar Ahmed, presented the findings of a study conducted by PCE said that most of the overseas development assistance provided to Pakistan was in the form of loans and not grants. This partly explains the fact that Pakistan was increasingly becoming a heavily indebted country, which is unsustainable in the long run.

He said the total grants disbursed were $484 million while the loan amount was $3.50 billion, quoting the official figures for the 2007-08.

The seminar recommended the need for a unified and holistic definition of adult literacy across South Asia that contains functional literacy as defined by Unesco.

The seminar recommended that comprehensive legislation on adult literacy be enacted and enforced with clear identification of short and long term goals.

It also recommended that the cost per adult literate should be worked out and budget allocation should be made accordingly, while the allocation of funds for promotion of adult literacy should be non-transferable and non-lapsable.

It also called for launching gender-specific literacy programmes to increase women's participation and effectiveness. The seminar also recommended involvement of local community in implementation and monitoring of polices and projects.

Other speakers included Ichiro Miyazawa, Unesco, Nasir Amin, Academy of Educational Planning and Management, MOE, Mehreen Muqadissa, from Unicef discussed the issues and initiative taken by the UN agencies and government for promoting literacy in Pakistan and also shared challenges in completing the international commitment like EFA.

The seminar recommended substantial increase in ODA and government allocation in budget for the education sector, effective mechanisms for efficient implementation of ODA supported projects, use of state-owned media to promote literacy, its say in education policy, increase in overall education budget up to 4 per cent of GDP, provincial literacy plan.Among the audience were representatives from the Ministry of Education and other departments, students, parents, international organizations, NGOs, teachers, adult learners, street children, media and other members of civil society. Dawn

Education policy 2009 lacks conceptual framework: VCs
Peshawar: To analyse the national education policy 2009, a videoconference of the vice-chancellors of all public and private sector universities of the country was held here Wednesday.

All the vice-chancellors had the unanimity of the opinion that instead of creating more and more bureaucratic and administrative layers through the establishment of Ministry of Human Resource Development, the present Higher Education Commission must be strengthened and it should remain as an autonomous body. They said that education policy 2009 lacks conceptual policy framework and data incorporated in the policy is of 2005, which clearly depicts a lack of proper groundwork towards its accomplishment.

The VCs said there is a dire need for the improvement of infrastructure in both lower and higher education levels and the both levels need to have closer ties. They said that education policies must not be used as a political tool by various political governments, as it is clearly seen that every government comes up with a new policy, but it is unfortunate that the policies are not implemented.

The vice-chancellors were of the view that the education policy did not focus on special education, women education and scholarships for the students, which shows that it could be classified as an idealistic not realistic policy.

The VC University of Peshawar Dr Azmat Hayat Khan said that HEC had gone a long way in promoting research based activities within the present education system and it is need of the hour to produce more and more scientists and more focus should be placed on research and development. He underlined the need for a uniform curricula and mode of education which should be open and accessible to all. The News

Education Policy to be resubmitted to cabinet
Islamabad: Ministry of Education will re-submit the National Education Policy Draft 2009 to the federal cabinet for approval after incorporating the suggestions from provincial governments.

Secretary Education Chaudhry Abdul Rauf here on Wednesday told this news agency the document has been sent to provincial chief ministers on the directives of Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani to make the education policy more comprehensive.

Earlier the document was submitted on April 8 in the cabinet but its approval was postponed till next meeting so that the Chief Ministers of provinces can forward their recommendations to make the policy according to needs and challenges facing the new generation.

Recently, National Assembly Standing Committee on Education discussed the National Education Draft Policy 2009 in a meeting on April 21 held under the chairmanship of MNA Chaudhry Abid Sher Ali.A seven member sub-committee was constituted under convenership of Zubaida Jalal and its members were Shakeela Khanam Rashid, Tasneem Siddiqui,

Begum Nuzhat Sadiq, Farzana Mushtaq Ghani, Mir Ahmadan Khan Bugti and Dr. Nadeem Ehsan, he informed.

The sub-committee will also prepare proposals to make the draft education policy more comprehensive and effective.

Their valuable suggestions and proposals would be included in formulating the policy on which policymakers are working before the present government came in.

The education policy was formulated after thorough consultations with education experts. The objective behind creating and implementing the policy purely was to elevate the standard of education in the country, the Secretary said.

The policy will be student-oriented and bring uniformity in provision of educational facilities to the students by encouraging an all-inclusive approach, he added.

In the new policy, teaching of English language will be made compulsory from class one.

The policy will put into perspective the significance of languages. The planners have made an effort to make the child understand the importance of local languages.

Promotion of Urdu language as medium of communication to enhance national integrity will remain the mainstay of the policy. While new and innovative curriculum will be included to enhance capabilities of students to master English, which has increased its stature as international language.

The new policy will put a renewed focus on strengthening the private public partnership and take a fresh look at the serious problem of drop out rates at the primary level.

The document will put more stress on improving educational facilities in rural areas and give more emphasis on reducing the gender gap. Higher education, which forms a backbone for promoting research in educational institutions and industrial facilities, will get added attention in the new policy.

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The business of education
God ordained the first thing for the believers to be 'Iqra'. While the literal meaning is 'read'; it underlines the process which enables a creation to understand the goals in life/hereafter. For Joseph Addison it means, "what sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to a human soul".

Education thus underscores the importance of enlightenment/information. It is a tragedy that Muslims remain, generally, uneducated despite the clear command of God as about one percent comprehend even the Holy Quran. This has hampered their capacity to develop socially etc which could account for their marginalisation. While they had power, education, in some way, figured on their agenda. Hence you have a galaxy of philosophers, scientists etc among the Medieval Muslim Empires which proves HG Wells' wise remark, "Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe."

Pakistan started off with a huge education deficit in 1947. Unfortunately our institutional bankruptcy has kept this important facet, generally, on the back-burner depriving us of indispensable human capital. The reports of various Education Commissions etc are a testament to our casualness. It may be a chicken and egg debate as to whether the fast multiplying numbers deterred educational growth or vice versa. The objective reality is that we are held hostage by lack of food security, water, energy, employment etc, which generate social inequalities, and now the existential threat a la 'extremists'.

Such trends have kept political institutions weak and wavering. Hence poor Governance, generally, has ruled the roost in Pakistan as the people lack the capacity to fight for their guaranteed rights. As the public accountability is minimal, thanks to denial of free and fair elections, generally, the civil society reacts to such causes by fits and starts like it did in the lawyers' movement. As some evil genius defined 'literacy' as the capacity of being able to sign one's name in English/ Urdu, thereafter we are able to put out figures which fool nobody.

Our performance is writ large all over. Except for some talented students, generally, belonging to the richer sections/ expensive schools, the ordinary MA/ MBA/ LLB is below-par in English etc which is the lingua franca because of the globalisation a la status quo. So much so that even the Chinese/ non-English speaking Europeans are learning it with a zeal.

The falling standards, generally, are reflected in the reports of the Federal Public Service Commission. One can't ignore the fact that well-educated rich, except those with rural background, generally, do not find public service attractive in normal times. The emoluments of these cadres promise living under straitened circumstances if one goes by the book. The government tried to provide some financial relief which got nullified by the injurious inflation/ economic meltdown. However, even then one could expect better performance from candidates with middle class background provided they had access to dedicated teachers whose existential problems must be breeding a catch-22 situation for them constantly.

The plight of education in Pakistan, despite a mirage of hope, remains dire. Many elements have contributed towards the making of such a morass. First, before 1947, the government schools were well-run. Thereafter, generally, corruption/mal-administration, pulled these schools down tragically. In the rural areas, such schools seldom have full strength of teachers which is manipulated by the 'local influential' to make money. As the people are not free, their reaction is, generally, servile. Till such time that the political parties put primary emphasis on upgrading education on public demand, it'll remain in the throes of crisis.

Second, private institutions were encouraged to meet the growing demand. This appears to have proved, generally, a Trojan horse so far. The monitoring appears to be a practical joke like it is in the case of Public Safety Commissions here. Some of these schools are money-making machines whereby the school runs a double-shift and then it turns in to a tuition-centre in the late evening. While it becomes a goldmine for the owner, it is like subverting the mission of education to promote business. As such schools enrol children of the 'influential' and, as the owners roll in wealth, the Govt departments are obliged to look the other way at all kinds of violations of law/ rules.

Third most of such concerns are promoting alien culture with abandon to attract more children. Regular musical programmes, mixed parties in American style, reportedly, are held on the cramped campuses. The children are charged heavily for such fun but it must be already letting loose alien moral standards without the integrity/respect for law found in such societies. One family, which has come back after a long stay in UK, told me that its children were not exposed to such nefarious trends even while they were abroad. As money makes the mare go, the owners could not care less what they are promoting. True to our facade such schools also hold a 'milad' once in a while. One such 'money-shark' was a candidate for Imran Khan's TI Party in the last elections. Luckily he never won but some of the incumbents are with similar credentials.

Fourth, it appears that, with honourable exceptions, anybody can set up a University or put up a board of the same on any organisation. There are a number of colleges which have been upgraded. Normally such a change would require the bringing in of PhDs etc and considerable research to boast of which can win recognition in the world. As research is not given much importance, the setting up of a university becomes a simple affair. However, it deserves serious consideration as to what are we sowing by producing such degree-holders.

Fifth, most private schools are housed in residential areas though, reportedly, land has been allotted by CDA in the allotted zone. Reportedly, in one case a school owner has bribed his way through by tempering with the date of opening of the school so as to qualify for the allotment of the requisite land. However, as accountability appears to have gone to sleep, such characters have nothing to fear. Such locations now face threats of subversion by the extremists as per the reports of the concern of the Islamabad Administration. Any such terrorist act may kill many innocent children besides the neighbours for no fault of theirs except for being found in the threatened-area. Road accidents near such schools are a common happening due to the volume of vehicles etc. Lacking playing grounds etc facilities, the children learn the lesson that law/morality are for others to value; in Pakistan, as Musharraf can certify, nothing succeeds like success for quite a while till something goes seriously wrong.

Lastly, Herbert Spencer had said, "Education has for its object the formation of character." If commercial aspect dominates, then its mission gets aborted. That can account for many negative trends in our society.

Education can develop a society only if knowledge is spread in the context of a value-system. The product of such an exercise learns the requisite wisdom and contributes accordingly. Such an individual in a free society contributes fully through services rendered as well as by fighting for fairness. It is such individuals who promote the best values. God wanted us to be the 'best Ummah' but why are we undermining His message and making Pakistan a Banana Republic, almost like the 'extremists'. Mark Twain said, "Soap and education are not as sudden as a massacre, but they are more deadly in the long run." Let the business of education be the dissemination of knowledge which can make us win against all odds including lawlessness, greed and corruption.

By I. M. Mohsin - The writer is a former Interior Secretary. E-mail:

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Why send kids to Oxford?
Now that we have attained excellence in begging from almost every country on earth including the 'Friends of Pakistan', time has come to officially introduce 'begging' as a compulsory subject in the educational curriculum of our universities leading to the award of a doctorate degree. Lets prepare our future generation in this art right from the word go thus grooming them to become international beggars. -Dr Irfan Zafar, Islamabad (The Nation)

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Persian speech contest held at NUML
Islamabad: A Persian Language Speech Contest was held at the National University of Modern Languages here on Wednesday, says a press release.

Iranian Ambassador Masha-allah Shakiri was the chief on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, the Iranian ambassador said that NUML was an institution, which is playing a pivotal role in promotion of Iranian language and culture in the area. "It is keeping alive the traditions that have cemented cultural and religious ties between our nations," he remarked. He also appreciated the selection of subjects, proficiency in Persian language and the standard of delivery by the participating student speakers.

In his welcome address, NUML Rector Prof Dr Aziz Ahmad Khan underlined the need of the hour for the Muslim Ummah to develop understanding of each other and bring solidarity in the Islamic world.

The Iranian envoy later gave away certificates and prizes to the participating speakers. Qamar Zaman was adjudged the best speaker while Ziaullah and Imran Kashif were placed in 2nd and 3rd position respectively.

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GIKI students design car for competition in Germany
Islamabad: Students of the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute (GIKI), who have manufactured a fuel-efficient car for a competition in Germany, were awarded sponsorship amount under the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) project of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) at a ceremony held here Wednesday.

The team will participate in the Shell ECO Marathon, which is an annual competition that challenges engineers of the future to design, build and drive a vehicle using the least amount of energy.

In 2008, there were more than 330 teams from all over the world competing to develop the world's most fuel-efficient car. This is for the first time that Pakistan has been selected to participate in the competition, which will be held in Lausitz, Germany, on May 4-10, 2009.

The first-ever such project in the country is sponsored by STEM, a joint venture of HEC and Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS), Toyota Motors and Shell Pakistan.

The 8-member team led by Khurram Aziz is participating in the 'Urban Concept' part of the competition, which means that the car would be a scaled down version of the normal cars but it will be road legal.

The other team members include Shahbaz Alavi, Salman Javed, Khwaja Umer Riaz, Syed Salik Hussain, Muneeb Tariq, Fawad Ahmad and Mohammad Haseeb Ali.

The car manufactured by the students weighs approximately 130kg and the manufacturing cost is Rs0.3 million.

The main features of the car include a low friction streamlined body, extremely low weight, simple and easy to troubleshoot mechanism, low pollution emission, spacious luggage compartment, four separately controlled disc brakes for extra safety points and above all low fuel consumption.

HEC executive director Professor Dr Sohail Naqvi was the chief guest at the ceremony. Dr Shaukat Hameed Khan, Rector, GIKI, Dr Muhammad Aslam, Rector PIEAS, Dr Fazle Khalid, Pro-Rector GIKI, Dr Tehsin Hamid, Pro Rector PIEAS and Al Hasanat Rasul, Programme Director, were also present on the occasion.

Dr Naqvi congratulated the team on being the pioneers in the field and appreciated their six-month long effort to make this idea a reality.

"Your achievement is definitely an excellent model for the engineering students throughout the country," he said. The News

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Innovation a key driver of economic growth: HEC ED
Islamabad: Dr Sohail Naqvi, Executive Director Higher Education Commission said that the Innovation Strategy Working Group was the perfect forum for highlighting the importance and awareness of innovation as its remains absent from the general discourse in Pakistan.

The Innovation Strategy Working Group, a new initiative of the Competitiveness Support Fund, discussed various crosscutting issues on the importance of innovation as a driver of competitiveness and economic growth at its first meeting today (Wednesday) via videoconference at the HEC.

While chairing the meeting Sohail Naqvi said that the time was ripe to look at the entire ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship and then take it to the next level, adding that work had been done on innovation and entrepreneurship in Pakistan but not through a cohesive effort and that it had been in bits and parts.

Dr. Naqvi said the Strategy Working Group had a very ambitious task ahead of it and would be dedicated to bringing all concerned on board.

The Competitiveness Support Fund (CSF), a joint initiative of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Ministry of Finance, Pakistan, took the decision to initiate the Strategy Working Group, as there is no comprehensive policy or strategy to assist the government in collaborating with academia and the private sector to foster innovation across the country.

Arthur Bayhan, Chief Executive Officer, CSF, said the task ahead of the Strategy Working Group was a multi-faceted one as apparently there are no innovation systems at the federal, regional and local levels. Perspective is lacking and although work is being done, it is in isolation, he added.

He also said it was important that technology development centers be set up. Bayhan elaborated that the time had come to draft an innovation policy .He said the Strategy Working Group should make this a priority and ensure it reaches the implementation stage. The CSF chief said the initiative was a long-term one and required serious attention.

The meeting was participated in by a number of R&D institutes and Universities, including Balochistan University, Agriculture University Faisalabad, MIT Enterprise Forum, ICT R&D Fund, and USAID among others. Some of the representatives participated in the meeting from various cities via video conferencing.

The participants discussed the importance of innovation as a driver of economic growth, the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report, the funding of institutional support for Research and Development, awareness at the private and public sector levels as well as in universities and educational institutions, governmental role through a comprehensive innovation policy that includes concerted efforts for institutional, technical and regulatory assistance and a national innovation framework to stimulate dialogue around policies and strategic interventions that boost innovation, productivity and economic growth with the aim of improving overall competitiveness of the national economy. The Nation

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Increase in budget of HEC sought
Quetta: The Academic Staff Association of Balochistan University has demanded of the government to enhance the budgets of the Higher Education Commission and universities.

Speaking at a press conference at the Quetta Press Club on Wednesday, association's president Kaleemullah Barach said a general body meeting of the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) in Islamabad on March 29 had criticised the government decision to drastically reduce the HEC budget which, according to it, would badly affect the universities' ongoing programmes and other projects.

The FAPUASA would meet again on May 1 at the Punjab University to chalk out a course of action against the government decision. Dawn

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Renaming of school resented
Rawalpindi: A meeting of the Muslim Higher Secondary School Council presided over by the principal of the school Javed Awan was held here on Tuesday, says a press release.

The meeting attended by the Council members, reviewed the performance of the school and expressed satisfaction over the education being imparted.

The Council expressed grave concern over the merger of the school with the University of the Education. The university itself is an intruder in the premises of the Muslim Higher Secondary School and trying to grab the entire premises of the school.

The university is meant to train the teachers, and the school is its laboratory. The meeting felt that it would be unfair to give precedence to the university over the school which has a historic value of its own. It was one of the two big schools for Muslims at the time of partition.

The building of the school has a historical importance.

The name of Muslim High School was given by its founder principal late Syed Niaz Ahmed Tirmizi, after the partition of Sub-continent in 1947. Since then hundreds of thousands of students have studied in the school and they all feel proud of having been students of this school.

The school council appealed to the Punjab chief minister, MNA Hanif Abbassi and provincial education minister not to change the name of the school as it has its own identity. The council urged the Punjab Education Department to review the decision of renaming of school, and merge the university under the name of Muslim University instead of University of Education as the university is newly established and has no historic background or traditions.

Meanwhile, the Old Students Association of Muslim High School has convened its meeting on May 9. The association will also take up the renaming decision on its agenda and will strongly resent the decision. The final time and venue of the meeting of the Old Students Association of Muslim High School will be announced through newspapers in May. The News

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