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KEMU: what next? | Ravians dominates

The major problem is that KEMU tried to do too much too soon
Lahore, April 21: Fortunately, KEMU has bought some time to put its house in order. It also seems that the present government of the Punjab is determined to improve public sector medical care and also to upgrade and improve Mayo Hospital. These are welcome initiatives and all of us that care for KEMU and Mayo Hospital must support them.

King Edward Medical University (KEMU) has survived. The battle to take away its university status and make it a constituent of the University Of Health Sciences (UHS) is over, at least for now.

Many of the charges levelled against KEMU are factually correct. It has not done as much as was expected of it as a university. However, KEMU should be given a chance to prove itself. And it deserves official support, both financial and administrative, to achieve its goals.

As a supporter of KEMU, I believe it is time to indulge in some clear-headed self-criticism. The major problem is that KEMU tried to do too much too soon. There was a rapid expansion of its postgraduate educational activities without the resources to make this expansion actually work.

But for the numbers involved, King Edward Medical College (KEMC) offered many of the same programmes that it does now, but under the aegis of Punjab University.

It educated hundreds of undergraduate students a year, and along with its affiliated hospitals, besides training house physicians, offered postgraduate diplomas and degrees in many medical specialties and trained candidates for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Pakistan.

Besides medical training, KEMC also was involved in training nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists and other ancillary support staff. Except for the addition of a BSc programme in allied health sciences, not much has changed.

The important point to make here is that even if KEMC had been brought under UHS, it would still have had to do much of the same. Also, under UHS, the KE faculty would have lost the autonomy to organise training programmes, and worse, would have been forced to accept trainees without any direct input into their selection.

Of course, UHS does not have a faculty of its own that could properly select and supervise these trainees. As such, the government would have been forced to create an entire duplicate faculty for UHS, a body that does not have any direct educational responsibilities but only has affiliated medical colleges.

Imagine a professor of anaesthesia sitting in a remote campus without a department or faculty or students or any clinical work trying to remotely supervise dozens of anaesthesia trainees at Mayo Hospital: a sure recipe for disaster.

All this seems pretty obvious. But then why the campaign to strip KEMU of its university status and put it under UHS, and much of this coming from former KE graduates?

This opposition stems from two primary sources.

First and most charitably is an abiding sense of nostalgia. Many KE graduates have great affinity for the time they spent as students in KE and as such wish to preserve some semblance of the environment they experienced as students themselves.

The second reason, considerably less charitable and probably more factual, is that medical education and medical care have become big business in the private sector. Some of these KEMU opponents own or are partners in private medical enterprises that compete with public medical colleges and hospitals.

Many that oppose KEMU therefore have an abiding interest in preventing public institutions like KE and Mayo Hospital from becoming centres of excellence. The worse these two institutions do, the better these people and their privately owned facilities will do financially.

Fortunately, KEMU has bought some time to put its house in order. It also seems that the present government of the Punjab is determined to improve public sector medical care and also to upgrade and improve Mayo Hospital. These are welcome initiatives and all of us that care for KEMU and Mayo Hospital must support them.

In this respect, I have a few suggestions. First, the number of new postgraduate students enrolled in KEMU should be immediately curtailed so as not to overwhelm the faculty and teaching resources available at this time. As these resources expand and develop appropriate capabilities and capacity, further students can be admitted.

Second, the present dichotomy between the university and affiliated teaching hospitals must end. Unless the university is directly involved in the improvement and expansion of existing hospital facilities, appropriate and well-planned changes are not possible. An example is the ill planned and unfinished 'surgical tower' that literally towers over Mayo Hospital.

The surgical tower should be converted into a hybrid, partially for its originally intended purpose but also to create space for the teaching activities of the university and Mayo Hospital. After all, the two institutions share its entire medical faculty.

As it is, there is a plan on the books to build another monstrosity behind the existing university building for faculty and students. Surely much of the intended purpose of that building can be achieved by modifying a part of the surgical tower.

As far as the university is concerned, there was an initiative a few years ago that must now be pursued aggressively. This was to augment the existing teaching faculty with a cadre of 'visiting' staff. KE graduates the world over, and also within Pakistan, hold important positions in the academic world. Many of them would be quite willing to come to KEMU on a sabbatical, stretching from a few weeks to as long as a year.

This would be of great help to the present faculty and will augment and add a new dimension to the quality of medical education offered by KEMU and its affiliated hospitals.

For this to happen, the present faculty will have to put the interest of the university above their egos. But the university must also consult and collaborate with them before inviting foreign faculty.

KEMU has a great future, but it has to be built on existing foundations. -By Syed Mansoor Hussain. He has practised and taught medicine in the US. He can be reached at

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'Ravians dominate all walks of life'
Lahore: There is no doubt about the fact that Ravians are dominating in every walk of life, Government College University (GCU) Vice Chancellor Dr Khalid Aftab said on Monday.

He was addressing the annual dinner of the Old Ravians Union at the Oval Ground of the university. He said the GCU's School of Mathematical Sciences was an integral part of the university's academic programmes to convey knowledge. He said the school would soon meet the expectations of the academic community. He said the school had initiated the largest PhD Programme of South Asia, adding that over 100 PhD scholars were pursuing their research at the school.

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Governor approves construction of Science Block at Aitchison College
Lahore: Governor Salmaan Taseer approved the construction of a Science Block while presiding over the 72nd Aitchison College Board of Governors meeting at the Governor's House on Monday.

The meeting discussed the working conditions of newly appointed Principal Fakir Syed Ijazuddin, approved the appointment of Syed Amer Hussain as Senior School headmaster and looked into the recommendations regarding the construction of a separate Science Block.

Perks: The meeting gave the Management Committee the task to make new rules and regulations for Aitchison College's staff. The meeting also decided that the new principal would be provided all perks and privileges that were given to the former principal. The meeting was told that after every three months, 25 teachers of Aitchison College would be sent on a course to the Beaconhouse National University (BNU). It was said that French and German were being taught at the college and in the 2009-10 session Persian and Chinese would be taught at the Prep School and Senior School. The Science Block was also approved in the meeting at an amount of Rs 470 million. The block would be equipped with four new laboratories, demonstration rooms, a machine shop and a storage facility. Governor Taseer said the number of students to be enrolled would increase by 40 percent from the next year. Syed Baber Ali, Faisal Saleh Hayat, Chaudhry Moeen Afzal, Raza Quli Khan Khatak, Abu Bakar Chandrigar, Ali Aziz Sethi, Syed Jarar Ali, Nauman Ahmed Khan, Farooq Subhan and Mrs Dr Mateen Malik attended the meeting. General Officer (10 Division) Major General Shafqaat Ahmed, Finance Special Secretary Naveed Alauddin, Education Additional Secretary Farah Zahra Gilani and Aitchison College's Prep School, Junior School and Senior School's head masters also attended the meeting in their official capacity.

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Two-day workshop on quality assessment of education
Lahore: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) in collaboration with the University of Management and Technology (UMT) organised a two-day workshop on 'Programme Assessment and Continuous Improvement of Quality' for public sector universities.

The workshop started on April 15 at the UMT. It was conducted by HEC QAC Chairman Dr Abdul Rauf, UMT Adviser Salman Saeed Qureshi and the UMT registrar. Representatives of 30 universities from across the country attended the workshop. Quality Assurance Agency Managing Director Dr Azam Ali Khawaja and Quality Assurance and Learning Innovation Adviser Dr Riaz Hussain Qureshi represented the HEC during the event.

Representatives: Dr Rauf, a pioneer of quality assurance of higher education in Pakistan, stressed the need for programme assessment and its contribution to the quality of education. Earlier, he highlighted the importance of quality assessment of education programmes. Dr Qureshi said quality assurance was vital and discussed the latest trends of quality education. The participants discussed in detail the means to achieve quality education. Government College University's (GCU) representative Uzma Waseem shed light on the varsity's working.

HEC representative Dr Azam Ali Khawaja said quality should be visible at all levels of education, adding that quality assessment should be maintained. He said Quality Enhancement Cells (QECs) were necessary for Internal Quality Assessment (IQA). UMT Registrar Salman Saeed Qureshi chaired the second half of the moot. He highlighted the need for self-assessment to improve the quality of education. The workshop concluded at a unanimous note that all-out efforts should be made to improve quality education. Daily Times

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BISE completes arrangements for intermediate examination
Lahore: The Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) has completed all arrangements to hold the annual intermediate examination starting from April 21.

Examination Controller Manzoorul Hassan Niazi said on Saturday all arrangements had been finalised to hold the examination in a peaceful and transparent manner. He said 529 examination centres had been established in all the five districts which come under the jurisdiction of BISE. He said 129,948 male and female candidates were to appear in the annual examination.

Transparency: Niazi said 3,000 officials had been appointed to conduct the examination. He said 248 examination centres had been set up for female candidates and 278 for male candidates.

He said the BISE also constituted monitoring teams to check the transparency at the examination centres. Workshops were organised in the BISE's affiliated districts to impart special training to examination staff to ensure transparency, he added.

He said a complaint cell had been set up at the BISE office which would remain open for 24 hours even on Sunday. He said the board had requested the Punjab government to provide the necessary security arrangements at the sensitive centres to avoid any untoward incident. It also requested the LESCO to ensure uninterrupted power supply to the examination centres during exam hours, he added. App

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Humourous plays preferred over serious: Audience roll off seats at LUMS SkiTamasha
Lahore: Plays of various genres were performed at the annual SkiTamasha an annual skit festival organised by Dramaline, an organisation run by the students of the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). The serious plays revolved around social issues facing teenagers but the audience preferred the humourous plays.

The three-day festival that included several short skits (20-30 minutes each) concluded on Sunday. It was arranged in the LUMS Central Courtyard, where the administration had carpeted the floor and provided floor cushions for the audience. The open-air theatre also added to the festival's appeal as the star-studded sky provided a very calm and soothing atmosphere.

Favourites: One skit depicted the grim situation in Palestine and the atrocities meted out to the Palestinians. The audience also appreciated performances such as 'Daira' and 'Niqab'. The viewers believed that serious plays were good, but the comic plays provided them more entertainment. The audience especially appreciated a play, Bhool Bhullayan, by Abid Imran. The story was of several LUMS students who were preparing for a skit to perform at the festival. One of the performers got electrocuted which resulted in the others also getting electric shocks while trying to save him. They started suffering from amnesia and rehearsing for random skits (without remembering the lines). They called the director insane and eventually walked off the stage while laughing. The play was extremely well written and had the audience roaring with laughter. It also included several dances that were well timed and thoroughly enjoyed by the audience. The audience loved the performances by the lead actor and actress, Nouman Noor and Marzia Lotia, respectively.

Abid, the director, said he had not added the dances in the initial script, but decided to add them during the rehearsals. "Our director did a great thing by deciding to add dances to the performances. I also had a great time rehearsing and performing for the play," said Lotia. Nouman said arranging the play had been a great experience as the performers were all friends.

'PCO Mein Miley Ga Umeed Sey Dugna' (by Hamza Tariq) was another comedy that enthralled the audience. PCO stood for Piar Coordination Office in the play. Students from LUMS were attempting to find the solutions to their love problems. It also included dances and several jokes about some students that were well taken by them. The director and the lead role, Tariq, said such activities were beneficial for the students as it provided them a chance to work on their creative skills. He said he had an amazing time while preparing the skit. The audience and performers praised Dramaline President Aun Ansari and Vice President Ali Chaudhary for their efforts in organising the festival. Daily Times

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