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HEC & USAID | FBISE SSC papers delay

$550 million aid under threat as HEC is attacked
Islamabad, April 02: Parliament's revenge against the Higher Education Commission (HEC) for its laudable role in identifying the fake degree holding MPs will not only destroy the higher education structure, built in decades, but also threatens huge and committed $550m (Rs47 billion) in foreign assistance.

Informed government sources said that the USAID had hinted on Friday of keeping on hold the committed $250 million assistance under the Kerry-Lugar Act to establish three centres of excellence besides pursuing certain other potential goals for higher education development in the country.

Already, the World Bank, which has only recently approved $300 million soft loan for the HEC to support its various programmes for the next five years, has verbally told the commission's bosses to wait as the Bank is unsure about the future of the HEC.

The sources said that the USAID, in its communication with the HEC officials, has indicated of not doing the cost reimbursement PIL for the next six months because of a meeting the USAID had with the Economic Affairs Division, which has told the American agency that the HEC is going to be devolved.

Out of the $250 million, so far only $45 million has been transferred to the HEC by the USAID, which had agreed to hand over to the HEC all the education related programmes handled by the US Financial Assistance Development (FAD) programme. Now for the HEC officials, all the committed US aid for the HEC is frozen.

The sources said that under the USAID assistance programme, the HEC had designed to set up three centres of excellence (CoE), including the CoE in water resource at the Mehran University of Engineering and Technology, the CoE in food security at the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, and the CoE in energy at the University of Engineering and Technology, Peshawar.

Already, as reported, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) would lose 300 million dollars of loan approved by the World Bank (WB) to support its various programmes for the next five years.

According to the report, the $300 million equivalent credit was supposed to finance the government's tertiary education development programme. It is said that the loan deal would automatically come to an end after the devolution of the HEC due to some legal implications. "There is a clause in the agreement between the WB and HEC that any change in the legal status of the HEC would end the agreement at once," the reporter quoted HEC Executive Director Dr Sohail Naqvi as saying. This is a soft loan.

The HEC is facing the wrath of the parliamentarians after it had refused to accept any pressure for the verification of the MPs' degrees, more than 50 of which have already been declared invalid whereas above 200 degrees were termed suspected.

The federal and provincial governments and members of parliament and provincial assemblies exerted all sorts of pressure on the HEC to stop it from the verification work but to no avail. Later, more than 200 MPs refused to cooperate despite the apex court's decision, refusing to provide to the HEC or the universities concerned the details of their qualification certificates and degrees to stop their verification by the HEC.

Apparently, the HEC is being considered for devolution under the garb of the 18th Amendment; however, many believe that the subject of higher education was never a part of the Concurrent List but of the Federal Legislative List of the Constitution.

The Raza Rabbani-led Implementation Commission is reported to have made up its mind to devolve the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to the provinces amid reported threats of some federal ministers and IC members to the HEC bosses that the commission's powers would be clipped no matter what the 18th Amendment says.

Many are surprised over the conduct of Raza Rabbani, one of the most decent and rational voices in today's PPP, who is said to be supporting the devolution of the HEC when the cabinet even decided to retain certain functions of the Education Ministry at the federal level. Experts insist that the HEC and the education ministry are two different entities and could not be clubbed as one for the purpose of making choice devolution.

In its meeting on March 28, 2011, the federal cabinet, instead of devolving all functions of the Education Ministry, decided to retain several of them at the federal level by assigning these functions to different ministries and divisions like the cabinet and foreign ministry.

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SSC Part-II papers may be delayed as FBISE staff goes on strike
Islamabad: The Secondary School Certificate (SSC) Part-II Annual Examinations 2011 may be delayed because of complete strike being observed by employees of the Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (FBISE) against the alleged financial embezzlement in the board's funds.

Employees of the FBISE came out of the building and locked it from outside demanding of FBISE Chairperson Shaheen Khan to stop financial embezzlement that has allegedly been done while transferring the official bank account of the board. They were of the view that the FBISE director general has transferred the board's bank account to the Silk Bank and the Atlas Bank from the National Bank and Habib Bank Limited (HBL) for her vested interests.

It has been learnt that the HBL was distributing examination papers to various destinations free of cost but now when the funds have been transferred to other banks, HBL has refused to distribute papers this time around. "The examinations for class 10th are just round the corner and the HBL has refused to distribute papers," said an FBISE official.

The protesting employees of the FBISE alleged that the husband of FBISE Chairperson Shaheen Khan was involved in the financial embezzlement. According to information, an amount of Rs1.2 billion has been transferred to commercial banks. "What exactly was the point to transfer funds to other commercial banks when a branch of the HBL exists in the FBISE?" asked an official.

The protesters also demanded immediate removal of Secretary Mudassar ul Hassan who has been reappointed after his retirement. They believed that corruption has increased manifold since Mudassar ul Hassan has taken the charge. "He is the right hand of the chairperson as he supports and facilitates her in all wrongdoings," said an official.

The protesters also demanded of the director general to vacate the FBISE guesthouse. "She is living in the guesthouse despite having a house on self-hiring in Sector F-10," an employee said.

He said that either the chairperson should vacate the guesthouse or the house, which has been approved for self-hiring. "She has been living there since her joining the FBISE which is not fair. It is not for the first time we have demanded her to vacate the FBISE guesthouse," said another FBISE employee.

FBISE Chairperson Shaheen Khan said that demands of the employees have been accepted and they would be announced on Saturday. When inquired about the transfer of funds, she said that they have accepted the demand of employees and reversed the process of funds transfer. "The situation will be normalised by tomorrow," she said optimistically.

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Quaid-i-Azam University distinction
Islamabad: The Quaid-i-Azam University has awarded PhD degree in Anthropology to Naseer Ahmed Khan, says a press release. His research was based on the anthropological appraisal of the changing role of Post, a social embedded institution in the socio-economic development of Pakistan. Naseer Ahmed Khan is presently serving as director in Pakistan Post. The news

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Arts festival begins at GIK Institute
Swabi: A three-day All Pakistan Arts Festival started at Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology here on Friday.

The festival is organised by Naqsh Arts Society of the GIK Institute. Students of different universities from across the country are participating in the event while judges from various reputed organisations, including Pakistan National Council of Arts, are also attending the festival.

The festival is divided into various categories including exhibition, mixed media, calligraphy, theme-based painting, landscape, portrait, T-shirt design, class-painting, graffiti, sculpture competition and textile design.

Students in each category would be awarded for their outstanding work at the concluding ceremony.

The organisers claimed that such events enhanced skills and develop personality of the young artists beside infusing a spirit of teamwork and raising their concentration level.

The participants told this correspondent that what they read in theory was practically exhibited in the event. Dawn

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Poetry session held at Edwardes College
Peshawar: Pashto poets received applause from the audience at a mushaira held at the Edwardes College here Friday. Over 70 poets belonging to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa attended the poetry recital organised by the Pashto Literary and Cultural Society.

Senior Pashto poet Ghazi Siyal was the chief guest. Known poets Rehmat Shah Sail, Iqbal Shakir, Asad Danish, Samandar Yusufzai, Dr Zabihullah Hassan and Saadullah Jan Barq were also present.

Speaking on the occasion, Pashto Literary and Cultural Society president Dr Yar Mohammad Maghmoom said the mushaira was held after every year or two at the Edwardes College. He said Edwardes College was not only famous for imparting quality education but also contributing to the promotion of Pashto language. "The Edwardes College has played a vital role in introducing the poetry of famous Pashto poet Ghani Khan by popular singer Sardar Ali Takkar. It was at this stage that Sardar Ali Takkar first sang a ghazal composed by Ghani Khan," he added.

The literatus said Arabic, Pashto and Persian languages were also taught at the college after its establishment in 1900. He said Maulana Abdul Majeed Afghani, who was a Pashto lecturer in the college, rendered unmatched services for the promotion of Pashto language.

Rehmat Shah Sail thanked the society on behalf of the poets for arranging the mushaira. He said such programmes provided some respite to the entertainment-starved masses facing precarious security situation. He said the poets being members of the society could not remain aloof from the prevailing situation and their poetry reflected the problems with which the masses were confronted. Assistant Prof Gulzar Jalal hosted the session. The news

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