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Private schools vacation controversy resurfaces

Vacation controversy resurfaces
Karachi, Aug 03: While most private schools reopened on Wednesday after the summer vacation, several others decided to resume academic activities on Monday.

Just like the chaos and confusion that took place at the start of the vacation, a lack of uniformity is witnessed in the reopening of private schools as some have already resumed their academic activities and some others will reopen on Sept 1.

Talking about the situation, Sindh Senior Minister for Education and Literacy Pir Mazharul Haq said this was to happen because all schools didn't close for the summer vacation at the same time. "The government had decided to start the vacation this year later to carry the students and their families through Ramazan, Eid and expected rains. Many understood this and agreed with us even though we had announced our decision rather late. However, elitist private schools had their own plans, which they were reluctant to change, he said.

"What do they know about the hardships families, and especially mothers, face every year sending their children to school during Ramazan, and when it is raining as well? Then there will also be the Eid holidays to observe soon. We had taken all this into consideration." he reasoned.

The minister said that action might be taken against the schools which were reopening now in violation of the government's directive. "We will serve notices on the schools which are registered with us asking them to explain their action. Then we will see if we should suspend their registration or not," he said.

Director of Private Schools Dr Mansoob A. Siddiqui said that the ministry of education and literacy had already been informed during a meeting of the standing committee for education ahead of the vacation that they could not change their (vacation) plans at such short notice.

"We had already spoken of our plans, which we were not going to change, so there should have been no fuss regarding the matter. Those private schools that have both Matric and O level sections had chosen to go on leave for June and July while those having only Matric system opted for the July-August vacation," he explained.

Asked about the senior minister's intention to take action against certain private schools, Dr Siddiqui said, "Well, he did agree with us at that time that the notification had been issued late and he also seemed rather understanding of our point of view. The minister never said that he would take action over it."

About the different dates being followed by them, Dr Siddiqui said it was up to the managements of schools to decide a date.

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Demand for removal of VC reiterated
Hyderabad: President Sindh University Teachers Association (SUTA) Azhar Ali Shah has urged President Asif Ali Zardari and the Chancellor of the University of Sindh, Dr. Irshatul Ibad, to remove Vice Chancellor of the Sindh University, Dr.Nazir Mughal, and order an independent inquiry against him.

In his letter he traced history of crisis surrounding the campus and said that it was because of VC's maladministration, mismanagement and corruption that sparked violence at the campus.

Overwhelming majority of Suta members, he said, had expressed lack of confidence in him and demanded his resignation after murder of Prof Bashir A Channar on January 2 in the campus. When he declined, teachers observed indefinite strike and this demand was endorsed by Sindh Chapter of Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA).

He said that Nazir Mughal was sent on forced leave on Feb 21 which was appreciated by FAPUASA and academic activities were restored.

But, he said, Mr Nazir Mughal rejoined on June 4 after four months, along with guards and forcefully entered into the administration block and occupied VC's seat.

He accused the VC of spreading disinformation aimed at character assassination of SUTA leadership and went on to such an extent that three female leaders and activists were harassed with murderous attack while returning from Karachi.

Suta, he said, was continuing peaceful protests against Mr Mughal and demanding his removal. Strangely, after release of Suta's white paper against the VC, Pir Mazharul Haq issued threats to SUTA leadership which showed that the protest could take a different turn once vacation is over. Dawn

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Funds for 8,000 ghost schools stopped
Islamabad: The lifeline for the highly controversial federal government education project worth over Rs8 billion, the Basic Education Community Schools (BECS), which feeds more than 8,000 ghost schools, is being cut as the Planning Commission has linked further funding with the condition that only real schools and actual teachers will be paid from the public funds.

An office memorandum issued by the Planning Commission on July 26, 2012 sets the following three conditions for the release of Rs1 billion for the project component such as salaries, operational and administrative expenses up to June 2013: (i) The ministry of professional & technical training may ensure that payment is made on basis of actual/existing schools and staff; (ii) Implementation of recommendations of the inquiry report prepared by the member (Infra), Planning Commission may be ensured; and (iii) A fact-finding/scrutiny committee may be established to probe the reports of gross financial irregularities appearing in the national press regarding payment to ghost teachers. The News recently unearthed the scam of 8000 ghost schools following which the government has now sprung into action to pre-empt further wastage of public money in the name of education for the poor.

Member Planning Commission, Mohayyuddin Marri, whose inquiry report had contributed to expose the serious corruption in the project, told this correspondent on Wednesday that if the authorities want to run the project then they would have to carry out third party validation to ensure that public money is not wasted on ghost schools anymore.

Of total almost 13,000 schools all over Pakistan more than half are feared to be the ghost schools as the authorities admit that 2,000 ghost schools were identified only when Nadra could not verify the ID cards of 2,000 ghost teachers of these schools.

Under BECS community schools are set up by the community in their houses. The BECS provides Rs3000, Rs4000 and Rs4500 per month to teachers who are matriculate, intermediate and graduate respectively with Rs1,000 additional given to each of these school for electricity charges.

Each of these community schools was supposed to have a minimum of 30 students and were designed to impart education from class I to V. In many schools, which were running for the last four five years, they do have students in class I, II and III but not in IV and V, which means these schools were run on only official files.

There has been no reliable monitoring system to assess the working of these schools as some NGOs were asked to do the supervision of these schools.

Marri, like many in the government, insists that such NGOs also pocketed money instead of doing the work assigned to them. A sum of Rs5.4 billion has already been spent on this project, which requires a little over Rs2 billion more for the next two years for which the National Education Foundation is seeking more funds but the Planning Commission has now awakened to secure, at least for the future, the public money going down the drain. The news

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