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HEC devolution mixed response | Provincial HEC

HEC devolution plan draws mixed response
Karachi, April 08: Mixed feelings have been expressed by different stakeholders over the Higher Education Commission's (HEC) proposed devolution to provinces following the passage of the 18th Amendment in the Constitution.

The Karachi University Teachers Society's (Kuts) on Thursday adopted a unanimous resolution, saying that that the "KU teachers who have always been rejecting the HEC's regulatory role are not prepared to accept the rules introduced by the commission whether it enjoyed a federal or a provincial status."

A meeting of Kuts' executive committee chaired by its president Prof (Dr) Abid Hasnain held on the campus to discuss the situation arisen out of the ongoing debate concerning the HEC's devolution plan unanimously resolved that the society's executive committee accorded priority to the universities autonomy and the importance and priority given to the public sector universities under the University Act of 1972.

"The measures being taken by the government concerning the HEC's devolution plan are, at present, vague and no clear line of action has been devised," the meeting participants opined and urged the government to take the "real" stakeholders ie teachers into confidence prior to taking any decision concerning the HEC's devolution and all other decisions be made in the light of teachers' unanimous decisions.

A press release of Kuts issued by its secretary Dr Shakeel Farooqui said that a general body meeting of the Federation of All-Pakistan Academic Staff Association was being convened in this regard on April 9 and 10 in Islamabad and as, such, a final line of action would be announced after its ending.

Opposition to devolution plan slammed
Sindh Senior Minister for Education Pir Mazhrul Haq said that all those who were opposing the devolution of the HEC to the provinces had, in fact, nurtured in the era of martial law and, as such, they were unable to digest the provincial autonomy being ensured by the present government with its devolution plan.

In a hard-hitting statement, the minister accused the former chairman of the HEC and a section of the media of launching a negative propaganda against the government move of devolving education sector to provinces, saying that by doing so all those who had been raising slogans in favour of provincial autonomy had also been exposed.

Mr Mazhar said that education being a provincial subject that in 1973 constitution was kept in the concurrent list only for 10 years remained a federal subject for 27 long years mainly owing to the trampling on the Constitution by dictatorial rules.

However, education was now being made a provincial subject and the present democratic government got the credit for it, he said.

Accusing a section of the media and some vested interests of creating a negative propaganda against the HEC's devolution plan, the minister said that with the devolution of the HEC to the province neither the foreign aid being received by the commission would be affected, nor the autonomy of the public sector universities would get damaged.

Moreover, the HEC's tasks of ensuring quality of higher education and degrees' equivalence would remain with the federal government and the cabinet division would look after the administrative affairs of such affairs, he said, adding that the HEC chairman who called on him recently also had some reservations concerning the commission's devolution but the latter's reservations had been removed.

Call for transparency
Commenting over the current debate over the HEC devolution plan, Karachi University Pro Vice Chancellor Prof (Dr) Nasiruddin Khan said that though he was not opposed to the commission's devolution plan, there was a dire need to make its working transparent and bring an end to the misuse of its funds.

Mr Khan who currently serving as acting vice chancellor of the university was, however, of the opinion that with the devolution of the HEC to the provinces a healthy competition would generate among universities as each of them would try to take a lead in improving quality of education of their respective institutions for achieving better rankings.

Besides, with the devolution of the HEC, the work relating to authenticity of degrees could be handled by the provincial higher education commissions in most efficient manner as even the original data of the degrees remain with the universities concerned, besides thousands of students who were forced to approach the HEC for the purpose of authenticity of their degrees would be able to get the work done from the HEC of their provinces concerned.

About the fate of the KU teachers who were currently doing their PhDs abroad on scholarships provided by the HEC, he said that though they might be perturbed over the current controversy over the HEC's devolution plan, their research/studies abroad would not be affected whether the HEC remained a federal subject or devolved to provinces.

There were 25 teachers of the KU who were currently doing their PhDs abroad on the HEC scholarships and 50 per cent of research of them were in the final stages of completion, Prof Khan added.

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KU buses off road after staffer's manhandling
Karachi: Karachi University students on Thursday faced immense hardships in going homes when drivers and conductors of the university buses and its shuttle service went on a strike in protest against the manhandling of their colleague allegedly by an activist of a student organisation.

KU sources said that the entire point operation of the university came to a halt at 1.30pm when a student allegedly manhandled and slapped a conductor on some petty issue.

The drivers and conductors of the university buses also threatened to go on an indefinite strike on Friday if the university administration did not take an action against the student who manhandled the conductor.

Although the university bus operation remained normal till 1.30pm, it came to a standstill shortly after the news of manhandling of a staff member associated with KU buses by a student spread on the campus.

As the shuttle service remained suspended, a large number of students, including girls, had no choice but to walk to the university's Silver Jubilee gate and the other gate located near the Maskan intersection from their respective departments to catch public buses to go home.

When KU transport committee chairman Dr Zulqarnain Shaa'dab was contacted to get his version of the Thursday's incident, he said that the staff associated with the KU bus service had submitted a written complaint to the KU administration

against a student who had allegedly slapped one of the conductors of KU buses.

He also confirmed that the staff associated with the buses had also threatened to go on a strike on Friday if no action was taken against the student responsible for misbehaving and manhandling with their colleague.

"The student could not be traced until now," he said, adding that all-out efforts were being made to resolve the issue amicably so as to ensure smooth operation of the KU bus service on Friday. Dawn

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Provincial Higher Education Commission to be formed in Sindh
Karachi: Preparations have started for the formation of a provincial Higher Education Commission (HEC) in Sindh. Sindh Education Minister Pir Mazharul Haq stated this here on Thursday. He was of the view that it would be run in an effective manner and on the pattern of the " Higher Education Commission (HEC)." Pir Mazhar said that eminent educationalists of Sindh would be made members of the provincial Higher Education Commission. app

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Students to take oath not to use unfair means
Karachi: Students of government and private schools affiliated with the Board of Secondary Education will be sworn in on April 12 in front of their juniors that they would not use unfair means during the upcoming secondary school certificate examinations, says chairman of the Board Anwar Ahmed Zai.

The annual exams will start from April 18. The move to administer oath to students is part of the Board's drive to discourage the cheating culture during examinations. The students of class IX and X will take oath in front of students of class VI, VII and VIII while schools will observe Youm-e-Dua on the day, Anwar added. The examinations will take place in two shifts: from 9:30am to 12:30pm in the morning and from 2:30pm to 5:30pm in the evening.

The admit cards of private candidates have been sent to their residential addresses whereas those of regular candidates will be distributed from April 11. The news

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SSUET mourns demise of Dr Nabi Bakhsh Baloch
Karachi: Vice Chancellor of Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET) Prof Dr Saiyid Nazir Ahmed has expressed his grief and sorrow over the demise of Dr Nabi Bakhsh Baloch, a member of the University's Board of Governors, who died on Wednesday. Board members laid a floral wreath at the grave and offered Fateha for the departed soul. The funeral rites of late Dr Baloch were attended by Registrar Shah Mahmood H Syed, who was accompanied by the members of Aligarh Muslim University Old Boys Association (AMUOBA), SSUET's Board of Governors and faculty members. The university was also closed as a mark of respect to the departed soul. app

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Teachers to 'boycott' Pir Mazhar socially
Hyderabad: Sindh Professors and Lecturers Association has decided to observe 'social boycott' of Sindh Minister for Education Pir Mazharul Haq in protest against his use of intemperate language against teachers in the provincial assembly and before electronic and print media.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the association held here on Thursday with Prof Ather Hussain Mirza in the chair.

The meeting demanded that the government issue a notification with regard to already-accepted demands of the association, which included grant of time-scale, issuance of posting orders of teachers, who were promoted to grade-18, 19 and 20 more than six months ago, holding of DPC meeting for the promotion of librarians and DPEs and other issues.

The meeting decided that teachers would resume hunger strike on April 11 to press for the acceptance of their demands, hold a general body meeting at D.J. Science College in Karachi on April 21 and take out a procession to the Chief Minister's House.

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No admissions to commerce section of college since 2009
Nausharo Feroze: Admissions to commerce section in the Government Degree College, Naushahro Feroze, have been suspended since 2009 due to a lack of interest by lecturers.

As many as 174 students of B.Com (Part-I) and 187 of B.Com (Part-II) have abandoned studies in the filed of commerce as lecturers belonging to the district have got themselves transferred either to Hyderabad or Karachi.

The commerce section of the college has no lecturers for teaching subjects of advanced accounting, business communication, money and banking, introduction to business, economics, statistics and computer application.

During a visit to the college on Saturday this correspondent found only three and seven students who had come t to attend classes for B.Com (Part-I) and part-II. Earlier, 187 and 174 students were enrolled in the commerce section.

The commerce students complained many of their colleagues had abandoned studies because there were no lecturers for commerce subjects.

"We held several meetings with the principal and demanded appointment of lecturers for these subjects and the principal also gave us assurances in this regard but nothing happened," he said.

The principal, Mohammad Bachal Kakepoto, however, said that it was unfortunate that lecturers for commerce subjects had not been arranged and the students were suffering.

He said that he had been in contact with the director of colleges over the issue but nothing could be done and because of this very reason admissions to the first and second year (commerce) had to be suspended from 2009 onward.

Mr Kakepoto said that lecturer for advanced accounts, Mohammad Ashraf Memon, and two others, including Tariq and Shahid Channar, who were posted in the college got themselves transferred either to Hyderabad or Karachi five years ago.

He said that he had informed the regional director of colleges Sukkur, Abdul Hameed Channar, of the situation during his visit to the college a couple of months ago.

He said that two lecturers of commerce, Munir Shah and Zain Larik, were posted at the Government College Kandiaro where commerce section did not exist and requested the regional director to transfer them to Naushahro Feroze college.

The principal said that the regional director expressed inability to transfer these lecturers because only provincial secretary education was competent to do so.

He said that lecturers were not ready to work in colleges in rural areas and preferred urban areas.

Students and their parents have appealed to Sindh Secretary of Education Ms Naheed Shah Durrani to help revive commerce classes at the college. Dawn

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OUP donates 300,000 books to flood-hit children
Thatta: Education makes all the difference in an individual's life and is an indispensable part of his grooming.

These views were expressed by Mr Neil Tomkins, Managing Director, International Division, Oxford University Press, Oxford, England, while speaking as chief guest at a book distribution ceremony at Goth Suleman Kohari, Thatta District, Thursday morning. The ceremony was arranged by the Oxford University Press (OUP), Pakistan.

"We thought we could make a worthwhile contribution in this regard by donating books for the underprivileged children who have as much a right to education as the others", Tomkins said.

With the beginning of the reconstruction phase after the gargantuan flood of 2010, the Oxford University Press is supporting the rehabilitation effort by contributing over 325,000 books for children printed in Urdu, Sindhi, and English.

These books were distributed among children in the flood-affected areas through the temporary learning centres (TLCs) set up by UNICEF all over Sindh. These children included some at Thursday's function from the displaced persons' camps in the surrounding areas.

Despite the poverty writ large on their faces and the expressions of dismay brought on by the massive trauma of being deprived of hearth and home, their faces really lit up on receiving these gift packs containing these books and their joy seemed to be further enhanced as they were made to feel so important with noted poetess Fehmida Riaz reading out stories to them in Sindhi and Zara Mumtaz singing songs for them , narratives of stories about animals, to the accompaniment of the portable keyboard, most deftly played by Zara Mumtaz herself. One of the songs was sung to the tune of the oft-sung children's song, "Here we go around the mulberry bush". Then there was the instrumental rendition (again by Zara Mumtaz) of the well-known English ditty, "For he's a jolly good fellow". With all this importance being showered on them, one could see these children beaming and their faces lit up, despite the trauma they were in the midst of.

Ms Ameena Saiyid, Managing Director, Oxford University Press (Pakistan) said that apart form wreaking damage in the form of a heavy toll of lives and property, the flood had also weakened the education system. Deeply concerned over the situation, she said, the OUP had decided to contribute to the redress of the situation by donating these books. She said that the OUP in all had donated 3,00,000 books made highly attractive for children through coloured illustrations and other features to stir their imagination.

Manzoor Ahmed Uqaili of the Education Department at Thatta, thanked the OUP for their valuable contribution in the form of books and the UNICEF for sponsoring these centres after most of the buildings had crumbled in the wake of the flood.

Azhar Adil, Deputy-Manager, Reform Support Unit (RSU), Government of Sindh, lauded both the Oxford University Press (Pakistan) and the UNICEF. Education, he said was the right of every child regardless of his circumstance and regretted that the trend towards profit maximisation had hit education hard.

Thanking the OUP for its generous donation, Andro Shilakadze, chief field officer of the UNICEF in Sindh, said that books were a great force the power of which could never be underestimated. "Get books and read them to your children and it will surprise you how it contributes to the development of the child's personality". He called for public-private partnership in the field of education. The news

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