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Finance Ministry refused HEC budget

Finance ministry refuses to release Rs7.7b to HEC
Islamabad, April 09: Exerting more pressure on the Higher Education Commission (HEC), the Ministry of Finance refused to release instalment of recurring budget worth Rs7.7 billion for fourth quarter of the year 2010-11, which would ultimately make it difficult to provide funds to 71 public sector universities for payment of salaries to their employees, sources told this scribe here on Friday.

Sources said the Ministry of Finance maintained that the future of the HEC is uncertain and it will not be able to release any more funds unless it gets clear that which department will monitor higher education sector in the country.

According to the HEC, in the recurring budget for the financial year 2010-11, an amount of Rs28 billion was agreed upon by the Ministry of Finance, of which Rs23.2 billion were approved with a reduction of Rs4.8 billion.

Sources stated that the instalment was a part of the commitment made last year by the Ministry of Finance and it was highly needless to attribute it with the present crisis regarding the future of the HEC.

"The recurring budget is provided to public sector universities for payment of salaries to their teaching and non-teaching staff and the HEC never uses this amount for any other purpose. Non-provision of funds would create severe financial problems for employees who are already facing unprecedented price hike in the country," sources said.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Ministry of Finance took similar step last year that led to countrywide protests by teachers' federations due to which the prime minister intervened into the affair and ordered release of recurring budget to the HEC.

Sources said that the HEC has sent an email to administrations of public sector universities informing them about stoppage of instalment for recurring budget by the Ministry of Finance that may result in non-provision of funds for payment of salaries.

Talking to this scribe, former HEC chairman Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman said that the Ministry of Finance is trying to put hurdles in the fast growth of this prestigious institution but "these types of steps may prove fatal to the nation."

He hoped that the president and the prime minister would play their due role as demanded by the vice chancellors of 71 universities because continuation of HEC would help bring higher education sector at par with international standards.

Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman opined that Implementation Commission Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani should tender his resignation because, according to him, he (Raza Rabbani) is directly responsible for all this mess that would push the country backward in the higher education sector.

"The HEC is fully protected under the 18th Amendment and I wonder how the Implementation Commission can devolve it against the spirit of this landmark amendment," he said.

Former education minister Sardar Aseff Ahmad Ali told this correspondent that representatives of political parties talk in support of the HEC when they face the media but they hold entirely different viewpoint in meetings of the Implementation Commission.

He said that the federal government has nothing to do with the HEC devolution as representatives of political parties in the Implementation Commission approved it and they are directly responsible for this situation.

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YDA to announce deadline for possession of RMC girls' hostel
Rawalpindi: The Young Doctors Association (YDA), Rawalpindi Chapter, will announce the deadline for getting possession of the Rawalpindi Medical College (RMC) Girls Hostel building from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The YDA Punjab Chapter is also planning to involve provincial government authorities to play their due role in getting possession of the building, which was supposed to be vacated in the first week of March this year as promised by the NAB high-ups.

The YDA Rawalpindi Chapter could not give due attention to the issue of the RMC hostel building due to strike in public sector hospitals across the province for 38 days on issues of increase in salaries of young doctors, revision of service structure and increase in health budget of the province, said YDA Punjab General Council Chairman Dr. Muhammad Haroon on Friday.

He said that in a day or two, the YDA would announce the deadline for NAB to vacate the hostel building.

On January 29, the YDA Rawalpindi Chapter organised a peaceful demonstration in front of the RMC Girls' Hostel near Ali Nawaz Chowk along Rawal Road and gave the deadline of February 28 to NAB high-ups for vacating the building. In February, NAB high-ups assured the YDA office-bearers that they would vacate the hostel building in the beginning of March.

On February 3, PML-N MNA from Rawalpindi Muhammad Hanif Abbasi assured the YDA that NAB would vacate the building of the RMC hostel in February. The MNA had said that on his directives the Rawalpindi commissioner met the NAB director general, who assured that the NAB would vacate the RMC hostel building in February. However the building has not been vacated so far.

The NAB has been utilising the RMC hostel building for nearly 10 years and as a consequence students, particularly female ones, have been suffering badly. At times, the RMC has to accommodate even six students in a single room, which makes the environment in no way conducive to studying peacefully.

Meanwhile, on Friday, the young doctors resumed their duties in outpatient departments of allied hospitals after 38 days of strike. However, the influx of patients in OPDs remained thin.

The young doctors have already started serving in emergency wards, ICUs, CCUs and indoor patient departments after reassurance by Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif that the demands of the YDA would be accepted. The CM constituted a six-member special committee, comprising three members from the government - Senator Pervez Rashid, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah and Senior Adviser to CM Zulfiqar Khosa, while three members from the YDA - Dr. Nasir Abbas and Dr. Abu Bakr Gondal from Lahore and Dr. Haroon from Rawalpindi. The committee will forward a summary of the demands to the CM within two weeks.

"The first meeting of the committee was held late Thursday evening to prepare the Charter of Demands to be presented before the Punjab CM," said Dr. Haroon while responding to a query.

He added that the Charter of Demands apart from increase in salaries of young doctors, includes revision of service structure, medical entitlement of doctors and their families and district health issues. "Also the YDA demands cancellation of appointment of 317 doctors inducted during strike," he said.

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NIP to start issuing placement letters to 1,600 internees
Islamabad: The National Internship Programme (NIP) will start issuing placement letters to 1,600 internees, to be deputed in federal capital, from April 11.

NIP Director General Muntazir Hussain said that out of total scrutinised applications for year 2010 as many as 2,200 candidates preferred to be deputed in the capital. The candidates are given choice in the application form where they can mention the city of preference. "We called all 2,200 but only 1,600 confirmed. They will be issued placement letters on April 11, 12 and 13," he said.

Initiated in 2007, the National Internship Programme (NIP) provides one-year job experience to youth while side-by-side addressing the chronic shortage of staff in various public sector organisations. The internees are also provided with an attractive monthly stipend of Rs10,000.

This is the first badge of candidates that will be placed after the devolution of Ministry of Youth Affairs. The project remained at the standstill for few months after the implementation of 18th Amendment. As it was attached with the Ministry of Youth Affairs (MoYA) which made part of the first five ministries that were devolved under 18 Amendment, its funds were surrendered to the federal government along with the funds for all other projects under MoYA and the NIP was shifted to the Establishment Division.

The process delayed the placement of internees for the year 2010 creating confusion among the candidates about the future of this project that is considered to be the most popular project among youth.

The NIP employees receive hundreds of calls everyday on its toll free number 080033330 mostly from the candidates that have applied for NIP in the year 2010. Many of them and their parents visited the NIP office to enquire about the status of their application. In past three years, the NIP has offered internships to 85,000 boys and girls.

Muntazir Hussain said that NIP targets to place 30,000 to 40,000 interns by the end of current fiscal year for which, the department has received 100,000 applications. "The department has placed the list of candidates on its website as well," he said while hopping that the placement of next badge will start within nest three months.

He said that provinces have almost completed the placement process. Talking about the shortage of staff, he said that NIP has finally received surplus staff from the devolved ministries which includes three officers and three lower staff members. "Three more seats of officers are vacant which we believe will be filled soon," he said.

The NIP is running four different programs at this stage which include programme offered for master level students from all over country with an age limit of 25 years, internship programme for displaced persons with the age limit of 28 year and condition of graduation and programmes for Malakand Division, Baluchistan and rural Sindh with the same conditions as are offered for displaced persons.

Right now, nearly Rs2.1 billion funds are exclusively available for NIP out of the total allocation of Rs3.6 billion for the payment of stipend to the interns. The NIP expects Rs1 billion surplus funds by the end of financial year due to delay in placement of fresh interns in view of the recent devolution business and shortage of staff with NIP office. The news

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Teachers' promotions delayed
Rawalpindi: Elementary and secondary schoolteachers in Rawalpindi looking forward to promotions were left empty handed on Friday.

A District Promotion Committee, headed by district coordination officer (DCO), could not hold its annual meeting on Friday for the second consecutive day to decide about their promotions. The committee was formed in 2007 under a special chief minister package for promoting the primary, elementary, and secondary schoolteachers.

Under the special package thousands of teachers wait for upward mobility from their original scale as there is no regular timescale for promotions. Schoolteachers usually retire in the same scale they start their jobs in.

"The committee was to meet on April 7 to decide the cases for promotions but the matter was deferred. It was to meet on Friday but it did not," said Chaudhry Saghir Alam, president Rawalpindi chapter of Punjab Teachers Union.

The Punjab education department has completed the process of promoting teachers in all other districts except Rawalpindi. Only the promotion cases of 3,000 primary schoolteachers have been decided in Rawalpindi. The elementary and secondary schoolteachers are still waiting for their promotions, said Chaudhry Alam, who is a secondary school teacher.

He said under the special package, 50 per cent of the elementary, primary and secondary schoolteachers based on their seniority are promoted in the next scale every year.

Fifteen per cent of the 'most senior' primary school teachers will move to BPS-14 from BPS-9 and 35 per cent will be promoted to BPS-12. And the 15 per cent secondary school teachers will move to BPS-18 from BPS-16 and the 35 per cent will be promoted to BPS-17.

But the promotions under the special package have been irregular.

"No promotions were made in 2009 and last year they were delayed. I am going to retire by the end of this month. I will lose some financial benefits if the promotions are delayed," said Nasira Shafiq, an elementary schoolteacher, who started her career 30 years ago as primary teacher.

Executive District Officer Education Qazi Zahoorul Haq said all the cases for 'due promotions' were ready for 'final approval' of the district committee. He said the committee could not meet because of prior appointments of DCO.

He said the committee was likely to meet in two to three days depending on the availability of DCO. Dawn

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Students suffer as teachers busy in census duty
Rawalpindi: The students of the Punjab government schools are badly affected as teachers have been assigned duties for population census in various parts of the Rawalpindi division.

Parents seeking admissions for their children in the government schools are also facing difficulties as no one is entertaining them. On the other hand, dozens of teachers are facing suspension for refusing to perform population census duty. Rawalpindi Division Teachers Association President Chaudhary Saghir Alam said that teachers in all the government boys and girls schools are not attending schools since March 20 last as census would continue till April 19, he said.

He said that new session has started from April 1, but due to non-availability of teachers students are facing problems in their studies.

Parents are also facing difficulties to get their children enrolled due to the reason. "The Punjab government is forcibly assigning duties to teachers for population census and those who are refusing to perform the duty have to face suspension," he said.

He said that names of more than 100 teachers of Rawalpindi division are on the table of the authorities for suspension.

He said that teachers would come back on April 19, but they have to join the second phase of population census starting in June. But we are not worried about the second phase because we would be on summer vacation at that time, he said.

Executive District Officer (EDO) Education Qazi Zahoor-ul-Haq admitted that teachers are not doing their job because they are busy in ongoing population census. "We are not assigning duties to those teachers who are sick, but we are obeying orders of the authorities in this regard," he said. He said that teachers would join schools very soon and we would extend admission date to end parents' worry.

It is learnt that only clerks in every government school are handling the situation. Boy and girl students are attending schools but not studying for the last over two weeks.

Parents and students said that the government should select other unemployed persons to perform the duty of population census. The government has destroyed the education department, they alleged. Noman Aftab, a student of Government Islamia High School, said that all teachers are on duty of population census. "We remain free without any study for the whole day. Even we could not start our first lesson due to the absence of teachers," he said.

Rehana Kausar, Shabana, Noreen and some other students said that their teachers have been absent for a week that is affecting our education.

Nasir Ali Shah, a father, said that the government is least concerned about the future of students because hundreds of children are waiting for admissions. "We are regularly visiting the schools and waiting for teachers return to get admissions for our children," he said.

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QAU students organise 'Faiz Mela'
Islamabad: Students of Quaid-i-Azam University with the collaboration of National Students Federation organised 'Faiz Mela' in the lawns of Central Library here recently.

The stage was adorned with a banner having the famous verse of Faiz 'Yeh dagh dagh ujala, yeh shab-gazeeda sahar.'

Professor Ashfaq Saleem Mirza said that Faiz Ahmed Faiz is being celebrated as a celebrity figure whereas he was a common man, and that is also what his poetry is about. Faiz's message was for the workers, the peasants, the students, and his message was a complex one, which needs to be understood in depth. He congratulated the NSF for organising this event and hoped that there would be more such events organised by students on different campuses.

Professor Ahsan from National Institute of Pakistan Studies said that unfortunately Faiz is being presented on the official level as merely a humanist, detaching his poetry and message from his politics. He said students need to revive the tradition of resistance and revolutionary politics of which Faiz is a symbol.

Speaking on the occasion, Hassan Shah, President of Employees Welfare Federation, demanded restoration of students unions in the universities. He said that it is the unity among students, faculty and employees that can help them secure their common rights.

Ammar Rashid started with 'Aaj bazaar mein pa-bajolan chalo' but the landmark poem 'Hum dekhain ge' enthralled the audience, mostly students of QAU.

Arieb Azhar known for his association with Progressive Movement in his typical cap with the help of guitar presented 'kalam' of some others but the message was the same as that of Faiz. The first was Khawaja Ghulam Farid's 'Tenun wajib te imkaan kahun.' Shaikh Ayaz, he said, was a friend of Faiz. His 'Aaj to keh de' was one of Urdu poems Arieb performed on.

'Moun aai baat na rehndi ay' of Bulleh Shah that provokes us to speak the truth in the face of tyranny and oppression was Ariebs next choice. The last was Sakhi Shahbaz Qalandar's 'Qalandar Jhoolay Lal'. If analysed deeply, the message of all the mystics, as Arieb said, including Faiz called by some writers as 'Mulamati' Sufi was a mystic par excellence and same is the case with other progressive poets.

The last was a 'farmaishi' renditions 'Get up, stand up for your rights' of Bob Morley, the famous English singer which made the students to get up and dance to the tunes which included a Baba Jee whose stick was by another student as a dance prop. Sohaib Bodla thanked the audience for their participation.

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IIU Spring festival
Rawalpindi: A two-day Spring Festival will start at the International Islamic University Schools, F-1045, 6th Road, Satellite Town Campus, today (Saturday). According to a press release issued here Friday, the spring festival is being jointly organised by the Jang Cultural Wing and IIU Schools. International Islamic Univeristy Rector Professor Fateh Mohammad Malik will be the chief guest at the opening ceremony of the festival. International Islamic University Schools Vice President Professor Gulzar Khwaja will be the chief guest at the concluding ceremony of the festival on April 10. The news

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