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BSEK officials sell matric exam centres to mafias

'Special rooms' mushroom as officials sell matric exam centres to mafias
Karachi, April 07: Startling disclosures by students of class IX and X, Board of Secondary Education Karachi (BSEK) officials, invigilators of different schools and vigilance officers have revealed cheating on a colossal scale in Bin Qasim Town alone during the ongoing annual examinations. The massive scale of institutional abetment of such activities and the money involved has also reached epidemic proportions.

'Special Rooms' have cropped up in almost each and every school that has been made an examination centre. The practice of setting up these high-priced rooms, offering all kinds of assistance and allowing the use of unfair and illegal help while sitting for exam papers, has reached such an alarming level that package 'deals' are also offered to individual students as well as groups of students from particular schools - based on the financial standing of the candidate if the right amount is paid by candidates to the owners/principals of the examination centres.

Atop this list of venues offering this 'service' is the Government Boys Secondary School (GBSS), Port Qasim, where all kinds special rooms have been set up to facilitate not only those officially taking exam at this venue but also those whose examination centres are in officially in different schools.

J (roll no 214430), a student of class X, Beacon House School System (BSS), Steel Town Branch, has been given a separate room in GBSS Port Qasim. It has been learnt that J's parents paid no less than Rs45,000 to Centre Superintendent of GBSS Port Qasim Shafi Shar for five papers in a 'special room'. As a result, J sits in a separate room, which remains locked from 9am till he completes his paper, along with his mother where all kind of materials and texts are supplied to him. He is even allowed to write his exam till 12.30pm despite the fact that the official end time of papers is noon.

Compounding the matter is that J's examination centre falls in GBSS Pipri, yet he is taking exam in GBSS Port Qasim. Two other students, S and R, are also sitting for their exams in a special room at GBSS Port Qasim while their official examination centre is in Cadet College Pakistan Steel. Both have paid Rs7,000 each to Shar to avail this facility for five papers.

The most expensive special room at GBSS Port Qasim is a group purchase belonging to a well-known school chain, the Educators. Having paid a collective sum of Rs140,000, the chain has been given an entire room for 40 of their students sitting for their examinations at the controversial centre. Other similar purchases of entire rooms at the centre, catering to groups of students, have been auctioned for Rs125,000 and less depending on the number of students and facilities.

Shafi Shar, it has been learnt, has earned more than Rs3 million from class X students alone. The following schools have their examination centre at Port Qasim: Pioneer Academy, Gulshan-e-Hadeed; Best Academy, Gulshan-e-Hadeed; Educators, Gulshan-e-Hadeed; Bell Mount School, Gulshan-e-Hadeed; Young Scholars Academy, Gulshan-e-Hadeed; Al Hadeed Public Secondary School, Gulshan-e-Hadeed; The Montessori Home and Grammar School, Steel Town.

He has also created special rooms for class IX students, offering the same facilities for an equal amount. The following schools have their examination centres for class IX at GBSS, Port Qasim: BSS, Steel Town Branch; Pioneer Academy Grammar School, Steel Town; Al Hadeed Grammar, Gulshan-e-Hadeed; Roshan Tara School, Gulshan-e-Hadeed; Educators, Gulshan-e-Hadeed; Best Academy, Gulshan-e-Hadeed; Bell Mount Public School, Gulshan-e-Hadeed and two to three more schools from nearby Goths.

While Shar was successful in netting male customers from top private schools in Gulshan-e-Hadeed, his relative, Nisar Shar, got a hold of prospective female candidates of the same schools.

Nisar Shar is supervising the exams at Saint Sachal Sarmast Academy, Steel Town, which is hosting the exams for female candidates of Educators, The Montessori Home, Galant Foundation School, Grammar School, Steel Town, Al Hadeed Grammar School, Young Scholars Academy Gulshan-e-Hadeed, Best Academy Gulshan-e-Hadeed and others.

They have set up two special rooms with different rates. For one room they are charging between Rs500 to Rs1,000 while in the other, which remains locked during the exam, each candidate has paid between Rs2,000 to Rs3,000.

Another school that has set up 'special rooms' for SSC candidates is GBSS, Pipri. Class X students of BSS, Steel Town, have their examination centre at this school. Here, rooms have been purchased, each student having paid Rs10,000 for all five papers.

In one indicator of this practice, the centre's assistant superintendent, Imtiaz Naich, has maneuvered his way to get his nephew Faisal Naich, a student of Howard Grammar School, to take his exam in GBSS, Pipri, while the candidate's official exam centre is in Pakistan Steel Cadet College.

Pakistan Model Higher Secondary School, Gulshan-e-Hadeed, also has 'special rooms' for SCC candidates. The school is being run by the Vice-President, Al Hadeed All Private Schools Association. Rs2,500 per student has been charged by the school owner from each student that is availing the option of a 'special room'.

According to sources, in one instance, a student who purchased a place in a 'special room' was stuck on a question in the physics paper and none of the teachers present there could help him solve it. He was then allowed to call his own teacher to the exam centre, who then solved the question on blackboard.

The owner of Adeel Educational Complex School System, Gulshan-e-Hadeed, has deputed class XI students of own coaching centre as invigilators. Here, not only is the owner charging students for special facilities(Rs2,000 per student for five papers), but his underage invigilators, too, are charging Rs300 to Rs500 per exam per candidate.

The owner of DJ Grammar School, Gulshan-e-Hadeed, an examination centre for female candidates has clearly conveyed it to candidates that he would not allow any cheating if they don't pay for the facility. While those already paid are given all kinds of illegal stuff to cheat in exam. Moreover, many of the students taking exam at this centre are their own students in evening coaching centre. Their own teachers are their invigilators and offering great assistance and use of unfair means to them.

Some 480 schools have been made examination centres for both class IX and class X with more than 0.1 million for class X students alone. This report covered only parts of Bin Qasim Town.

Desperate students resorting to theft to finance cheating
Karachi: When contacted, Al Hadeed All Private Schools Association President Rao Safdar, admitted to the above facts, but said that his complaints to BSEK on the issue fell on deaf ears. He admitted that three of his school's (Howard Grammar School) students have been sitting for their exams at schools other than their official examination centres.

He said that he called a meeting of centre superintendents (CS) and told them to at least eliminate the money factory and 'special room' system. According to Safdar, he was assured of cooperation. However, he added, they did not keep their promise.

Rao Safdar said that, in the meeting, he even told school owners that one student, whose parents declined to fund unfair means, had in desperation stolen his mother's gold chain to give to the CS to allow him to sit in a 'special room'.

He further said that in two more incidents SSC students have broken in to locked houses to steal money for the same purpose. Asked if he could identify these students, he declined.

When asked about Pakistan Model School, which is run by the vice president of his association, he admitted the existence of 'special rooms' but declined to comment on them. Asked if he complained to BSEK about his three students sitting for their exams at GBSS Port Qasim and Pipri, he claimed that he did but it was to no avail. However, reliable sources confirmed that the private school association itself has stakes in the money generated through illegal means during exams.

BSEK involvement alleged
Karachi: Well-informed sources said that this is all made possible because Shafi Shar is paying bribes to Deputy Controller BSEK, Imran Butt who is responsible for preparing the list of examination centres and making any changes later on.

Sources further said that Shar has paid Rs30,000 to Rs40,000 to Butt for each school assigned to his examination centre. It is also worth mentioning here that the examination centre of The Montessori Home was initially White House Grammar School but Shar bribed Butt and got it changed to GBSS Port Qasim at last moment.

The name of the examination centre on their admit cards is still listed as White House Grammar School. We tried to contact Butt several times but he did not answer his phone despite repeated attempts. Controller Examination BSEK Javed Iftikhar's mobile was also switched off.

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Cadet colleges involved in financial irregularities
Karachi: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Monday detected "serious financial irregularities" in audit (year 2003-04) of cadet colleges in Sindh. The discrepancies amounted to over Rs10 million and the PAC head observed that these colleges were acting as if they were beyond the rules of the provincial government.

The PAC was informed that Cadet College Petaro (CCP) continues to give irregular conveyance allowance to employees who live in its premises despite detection of this irregularity in the year 2004. The PAC meeting held at the Sindh Assembly also detected irregularities in the Sindhi Adabi Board (SAB) Jamshoro and the Sindh Tourism Development Corporation (STDC).

The CCP spent Rs2.435 million on purchases and works without inviting tenders. This was a violation of rules which suggest that all demands valuing Rs100,000 and above should be advertised. The college administration was of the view that tenders were not needed for "expenditures of a recurring nature" and the purchases were made through a purchase committee. This reply, however, was not deemed satisfactory, and Sindh Education Secretary Rizwan Memon maintained that cadet colleges had to follow the same government rules.

An audit official pointed out that institutions associated with the armed forces tended to invite tenders even for dry-cleaners and wondered why these colleges, which to some extent were associated with the armed forces, were not following the prescribed rules. PAC member, MPA Shama Mithani, observed that these colleges were acting as if they were beyond rules.

PAC Chairman Jam Tamachi observed that no audit report had been presented before the assembly for the last 14 years and if they continued to defer paras, they might not complete the audit of even one year. The education secretary suggested that the cadet college should be asked to submit its record for audit.

Tamachi deferred the para and instructed that a letter be written to Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, Sindh Governor Ishratul Ebad Khan and the principal of the cadet college.

The secretary said these colleges were run through their "board of governors" and it might be advisable to instruct this board for an audit as well. The audit official lamented that they had pointed out this irregularity in December 2004 and it appeared that there was no liaison or coordination between the cadet colleges and the education department.

Tamachi said a letter should also be sent to the principal for appearing before the next meeting and responsibility should be fixed over this irregularity. The PAC also detected that the CCP had given conveyance allowance amounting to Rs1.124 million to its employees. This, he said, was not admissible, because these employees lived within the college premises.

The college administration contended that conveyance allowance was admissible according to a notification issued on July 5, 1992, by the finance department. The education secretary pointed out that the college administration had not presented a copy of the notification.

CCP Finance Director Bukhari said he could not present the notification on time because his mother passed away. When the audit official said they had detected irregular payments in 2003 and that it continued till 2009, the PAC head instructed that a letter be written to the CM and the governor to immediately stop this irregular payment of conveyance allowance. It should also be ascertained as to why this irregularity continued, he said.

Meanwhile, the Sindhi Adabi Board (SAB) had spent Rs834,599 under various heads by "splitting up" purchase orders to "avoid tenders and obtaining sanctions from higher authorities." This was a violation of the rules concerned. The education secretary said that the SAB claimed that they had a record of these transactions, but they had not presented it. The PAC deferred this para for the next meeting likely to be held on April 28.

The PAC dropped a para about the Sindh Tourism Development Corporation (STDC) because Culture Secretary Shams Jafrani presented vouchers of advances amounting to Rs371,165.

The PAC pointed out that the CCP did not deduct income tax worth Rs214,079 at source over the expenditure of Rs6.117 million on various supplies and purchases, which was violation of the rules. The CCP director finance said they had a record of income tax and could present it during the next meeting.

The PAC was informed that the Cadet College Sanghar had spent Rs4.755 million but had not produced vouchers. College Principal Capt. (retd) Altaf Ahmed said the condition of the college was bad and at one time in 1999, it was being turned into a veterinary centre. He said this amount was spent in 1999 and not a single employee of the college of that era was available now while the then-principal had passed away. The PAC instructed the education secretary to hold an inquiry and present the report during the next meeting on April 28.

The PAC dropped a para about the STDC when the culture secretary said that its board was set up in 1991 and had not convened any meetings till 2008 and no share was floated in the market.

'University is using Urdu for teaching as well as correspondence'
Karachi: Dr Muhammad Qaiser, Vice Chancellor, Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology (FUUAST) denied the allegation that his university is not doing enough to use Urdu in the teaching process. "I am surprised at the premise that FUUAST is not serious about using the national language. All the official correspondence is in Urdu. Also, the forms for the recruitment of prospective teaching and non-teaching staff have been printed in Urdu. The books being published in Urdu includes Physics and other books," he explained.

Dr Qaiser said that the correspondence with the Ministry of Education as well as other ministries in Islamabad is also in Urdu and he has requested the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to help FUUAST organise an Urdu Conference.

However, Dr Mahboob Uddin, a former Professor at the University of Karachi (KU) and currently Chancellor of a Private University disagrees with Dr Qaiser's premise. "I think FUUAST officials and teachers have no conviction about the use of Urdu in their university. I visited the university recently and was appalled to read some MPhil and PhD theses in the department. The theses were in English, badly written and had grammatical mistakes. The absence of Urdu was a question mark on the role of an Urdu University. When I pointed out the mistakes to a teacher, he remained unfazed and said that everyone commits such mistakes," he said.

Dr Mahboob further said that FUUAST's claims as the only university that was teaching in Urdu is superfluous unless all the subjects are taught in Urdu. "All the lectures, abstracts and synopses should be in Urdu. The teaching hours may be less in comparison to other universities but the teachers, who translate, compile or write textbooks in Urdu should be given some extra allowance as a reward," he explained.

In this regard, we posed two questions to a teacher of a department in the science faculty of this university - What are you teaching? And what is your opinion about the teaching methodology in your university? Unfortunately, her reply was vague and she did not seem to understand the questions.

Meanwhile, Azmat Ali Khan, former Director of Publications in the Pakistan Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (PCSIR) and a strong advocate for the teaching of science and better use of Urdu in the country, had grave concerns about the status of Urdu in the university. "How many students have written their theses in Urdu for their Masters, MPhil and PhD? I think the university should have good knowledge of Urdu and the teachers should also be willing to teach, prepare their courses and use Urdu," he said.

Khan, a science graduate from Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and founder of the Geology Department in Urdu College (in the late 50s), thought that the Annual Confidential Report (ACR) should consider the performance of teachers on the basis of their work in using Urdu during the lectures, translation, compilation and writing of textbooks in the national language. "How can Urdu be adopted at the national level if we continue to shy away from using it?" he pointed out.

We also spoke to several students at the FUUAST, who were unable to talk cohesively in one language, be it Urdu or English. Most of the time, they switched from Urdu to English and vice versa.

Dr Aslam Farrukhi, noted Urdu author, critic, poet and linguist, who currently heads the Bureau of Composition, Compilation and Translation at FUUAST, firmly believes that Urdu has the power and capacity to teach science, technology, medicine and other subjects. "People have written their theses in Urdu. Ashrafi Sahib (I do not remember his full name) had done his PhD in Zoology under the supervision of Dr Afzaal Hussain Quadri. There are many others", he said. He also cited the example of Moeenul Jarraheen a medical (Anatomy) atlas that was translated into Urdu from English in 1845 (in Calcutta). "You will be surprised to see the book. All the medical terms are translated in Urdu and pictures of the parts of human body are astonishingly clear, showing details. It actually looks like it has been published recently," he added.

Dr Farrukhi feels FUUAST is on track when it comes to using Urdu as the language of instruction. In fact, he said, the language can be implemented in every walk of life if the government issues an order that Urdu will be used in the offices.

City School students celebrate Jashan-e-Milad-un-Nabi
Karachi: The City School (TCS) TCK-I, North Nazimabad Branch recently organised a 'Milad' as an annual function at the 'Rose Garden'.

The function started with the recitation of verses from the Holy Quran. The first rendition was performed by the 'Playgroup' class the pre-Nursery grade students. The impressive coordination exhibited by these 3-4 year olds amply demonstrated the effort of not only the children but also their teachers, who greatly contributed to the whole programme.

The next segment witnessed recitation by a group from the 'Nursery' class, and yet again, the organised performance showed discipline. Moreover, the melodies recitation of the Naat inspired the audience into silent attention.

The 'Kindergarten' students who came next also performed their parts elegantly, and were greatly appreciated by the audience as much for the symmetrical arrangement of those who recited as for the tranquil nature of their recitation.

Towards the concluding part of the programme, a group of teachers recited the last Naat of the Milad. The guest at the occasion, Ms. Tabinda Lari, also recited a few Naats towards the conclusion of the event. -By Nasira Shamim

'The Prolific Pakistan'
City School (Boys) Prep North Nazimabad was transformed into mini-Pakistan, as students recently arranged 'The Prolific Pakistan' event, bringing together all cultures, colours and traditions of the country, and showing them in their own individual existence and glory.

The show had displays of various items of local industries, and highlighted the unmatched skills of our craftsmen. Students were dressed up in their own traditional and provincial dresses, and greeted visitors in their own regional languages.

A live stage performance added further colour to the event as students presented their skits and songs to pay tribute to our country and our legends. The main objectives of the event were to create a feeling of patriotism and ownership amongst students, and to make them aware of the rich and multi-faceted heritage of our country.

More than 600 people including students, teachers, parents, visitors and guests that included former test cricketer Mansoor Akhter, renowned celebrity and host Dr Shaista Wahidi and Director of The City School, Southern Region Mrs Amrana Ahmed enjoyed the evening with the students. -By Freeha Tahir (The News)

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