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Madressah reform project implementation

Govt keen to tighten control over 20,000 madressahs
Islamabad, Dec 06: The madressah reform project in Pakistan appears to have run into snags. A working committee set up by the interior ministry in October to formulate a madressah policy is yet to meet.

The government does not appear to be overly keen to tighten control over the 20,000 or so madressahs said to be operating in the country. It is not even clear how the three ministries now involved will coordinate their working.

In this regard, the National Education Policy 2009 vests responsibility with the interior ministry. The home ministry has tried to enlist the cooperation of the education and religious affairs ministries. The result? Overlapping and duplication. This has created confusion. The education minister told the National Assembly recently that only 500 of the 20,000 madressahs had been registered.

The religious affairs minister put the figure at 10,000. But the interior minister has been claiming that 15,000 have been registered.

Who is to be believed? With a meeting of the working committee yet to take place no work has been undertaken on the curricula reforms to bring the madressahs into the mainstream and modernise their teaching so that they do not preach violence.

Meanwhile the Wafaq-ul-Madaris has claimed that there has been a 40 per cent rise in the enrolment in these institutions in 2008-09 - three million students are now on their rolls. Can this state of affairs be allowed to linger on? Of course the madressahs would not mind as they have been quite happy with their autonomy.

They have resisted regulation all along. They agreed only when the tide turned against them. The logic of the home ministry taking charge is difficult to fathom. It is already saddled with heavy security responsibilities in a country at war.

It has no time and expertise to study the courses of the seminaries and analyse semantic issues such as the interpretation of the term 'jihad' and its application. It might be better if the matter were to be handed over to the education ministry.

The home ministry can be closely involved when it comes to inspection and monitoring of these institutions in the context of terrorism. Dawn

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National Defence University Ordinance, 2009 promulgated
Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari has promulgated two ordinances namely the National Defence University Ordinance, 2009 and the Institute of Space Technology Ordinance, 2009.

Spokesperson to the President former Senator Farhatullah Babar said that these ordinances-one for the establishment of National Defence University at Islamabad and the other for the establishment and grant of degree awarding status to the Institute of Space Technology were initially promulgated in July, 2007.

These had to be placed before the Parliament within 120 days with effect from July 31, 2009 in accordance with the Supreme Court verdict of that date, he said.

However, these Ordinances could not get passed from both Houses of Parliament by the deadline set in the Supreme Court verdict.

The President, therefore, on the advice of the Prime Minister and in terms of Article 89(1) of the Constitution and the Rules of Business 1973 promulgated these Ordinances for continuity and smooth operations and also to avoid legal implications, he said. APP

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Majority prefer Urdu as medium for Civil Services exams
Peshawar: Majority of population preferred medium for Civil Services Examinations should be Urdu. According to a survey carried out by Gallup Pakistan, more than half of all Pakistanis (58%) would like civil services examinations to be in Urdu while 37% want them to be taken in English. The remaining respondents would want them to be in both English and Urdu (1%), Sindhi or some other language (2%) and 2% gave no response.

A nationally representative sample of men and women from across the country were asked "Nowadays civil services exams are (mostly) taken in English language, in which language do you think should these examinations be taken?" Majority (58%) claimed to prefer Urdu and another significant 37% cited English as their preferred medium for civil services examinations.

The remaining respondents' views were spilt between those who prefer English & Urdu (1%), Sindhi (1%) and those who cited some other language or gave no response (3%). The findings of the survey reveal that, a proportionately higher percentage of ruralites and elderly (above 50) prefer Urdu for civil services examinations.

Meanwhile, while a higher percentage of all Pakistanis prefer Urdu medium of education in junior classes, as the level of education increases, their preference for English medium of education also increases. In primary classes, only 24% of respondents claim to prefer English as the medium of instruction, in secondary classes the preference for English medium rises to 36% and in higher education 50% said English should be the language of instruction.

A nationally representative sample of men and women from across the country were asked "In your view what should be the medium of education in primary classes (1-5)?" Majority (58%) claimed to prefer Urdu medium, 24% said primary education should be imparted in English, 8% claimed that in these junior classes local languages should be used, and 6% claimed to prefer both English and Urdu for primary level education. The remaining 4% of the respondents either prefer some other medium of education or gave no response.

In a follow up question the respondents were asked "In your view what should be the medium of education in secondary classes (6-10)?" Fifty percent (50%) cited Urdu, 36% cited English, 5% cited Local language, and 6% cited both English and Urdu as their preferred medium of education in secondary classes.

The remaining 5% of the respondents either said they would prefer some other medium or gave no response. When the respondents were asked about preferred medium of education in higher classes, 43% cited Urdu medium, 50% claimed to prefer English medium, and 4% claimed that higher education should be imparted in local language. Two percent (2%) of the respondents said they prefer both English and Urdu or some other medium of education in higher classes whereas 1% gave no response.

The study was released by Gilani foundation and carried out by Gallup Pakistan, the Pakistani affiliate of Gallup International. The latest survey was carried out among a sample of 2789 men and women in rural and urban areas of all four provinces of the country. F.P Report

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NBF awards for kids writers
Islamabad: National Book Foundation (NBF) would award Rs 1.2 million to the best writers of kids' literature in 'National Writing Competition 2009-10'. The writers were asked to send three copies of their writing material in English, Urdu and regional languages alongwith their CVs.

The writing materials from across the country have been sent to the relevant experts of different categories. The best writers will be selected for awards and result of the competition would be compiled in the coming week, NBF sources informed.

The writing competition is aimed at promoting kids literature, developing reading habits, increasing harmony among children, parents and teachers and creating children interest in additional reading material and textbooks. Giving details of the competition, the source said, those books which were part of any competition of NBF, would not be eligible for entry again.

Fresh and new writings will be given preference. A total of 48 awards in various categories would be given to winning writers. The first winner would bag Rs 40,000, second Rs 30,000, third Rs 20,000 and the fourth would get Rs 10,000.

Under the competition, books for children aged between four to sixteen years in three different categories would be included under topics of science and technology, social sciences, social values and pictorial stories.

Science and technology group includes the category of everyday sciences, health and nutrition, earth and atmosphere, environmental issues and its solutions, preparation against calamities, games and quizzes.

In Social Studies group, the categories are Pakistan - its geography, places and people, travelogue, children poems, novel, regional folk and short stories, drama and national heroes. The categories in the social values group include women role in society, peace and tolerance, ethics and values.

In the pictorial stories group, the categories are picture stories, humorous stories, poster and charts.

The Assistant Director said that the awards will be given to the writers who would author best books on different topics of kids' interest. Through this scheme, the children literature would be promoted to great extent and ample books would be available for them.

The foundation would provide 500 copies of the top books of the competition to the school libraries. To make the market accessible for writers and publishers, the foundation would play its role to create opportunities, she added.

The foundation is striving to promote reading habits among children and making studies interesting. The results announced by NBF will be final and cannot be challenged in any court. APP

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Protest against KUST VC kidnapping
Peshawar: The teachers of public sector universities have set a three-day deadline for the government for safe recovery of the kidnapped vice-chancellor of Kohat University of Science and Technology, Prof Dr Lutfullah Kakakhel, or else they would go on complete strike from coming Tuesday.

The threat was given by the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association's (FAPUASA), NWFP chapter, which met with its provincial president Dr Arbab Khan Afridi in the chair.

It was attended by office-bearers of teachers associations of majority of the public sector universities of the province.

It declared that the government should make effective efforts for the safe recovery of the vice-chancellor, otherwise, they would shut the universities, bring out protest processions and hold general body meeting of the representative bodies of all the universities at the University of Peshawar on Tuesday next.

The meeting was informed that the security forces and other government functionaries knew the whereabouts of the abducted vice-chancellor.

It was stated in the meeting that he was in the captivity of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Darra Adamkhel Commander Tariq Afridi based in Orakzai Agency. The Taliban wanted to swap the vice-chancellor for their four associates interned at the Kohat prison.

The meeting was told that the kidnappers had sought medicines and clothes for the vice-chancellor, which were sent to them.

They came down hard on the chancellor and NWFP Governor Owais Ahmad Ghani for his failure to secure release of the head of a prestigious educational institution and asked him to resign.

Dr Lutfullah was on his way to the university from Peshawar on November 6, when unknown people kidnapped him from Akhurwal area of Darra Adamkhel.

The government launched a crackdown against the Akhurwal tribe as well as militant hideouts but the vice-chancellor could not be traced. No group claimed responsibility for the kidnapping so far.

Some officials at the political administration had said that the kidnapped academician had been shifted to Khyber Agency. The news

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