50pc kids can't read Urdu

16.1pc children out of school
Lahore, Feb 08: A sample survey shows that over 16.1 per cent of school-going age children are not attending any school in Punjab and those attending show poor learning competencies.

The survey - Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) survey 2011 - by the South Asia Forum for Education Development (SAFED), was launched at Children's Library Complex on Tuesday.The citizen-led household survey conducted in 28 districts in the province revealed that 16.1 per cent of out-of-school children include seven per cent of dropouts. Up to 21.8 per cent of five years age children, when one expects children to be enrolled in some schools, are also out of school.

The data shows that among 28 districts, Lahore ranked 15th with 15.1 per cent out-of-school children ratio.

The sample survey shows that almost 84 per cent children in the 6-16 years age cohort are enrolled in schools. Of these enrolled students, 40.8 per cent are girls.

The assessment of students' learning levels does not paint any encouraging situation as more than half of the tested children could not even read a sentence in Urdu, while 66 per cent of the children failed to read a sentence in English of level Grade-II.

Arithmetic tests presented even a bleaker picture: 52 per cent of children could not do two-digit subtraction sums with carry whereas substantial 70 per cent of 5-16 years age children could not do three-digit division sums.

Arithmetic tests covering up to grade-III standard national curriculum, asked from grade-V children, showed that 53.8 per cent of children could not do three-digit division sums, while 21 per cent of Class-VIII students could not do the same sums.

The arithmetic learning level of grade-V private schools' students is better as 55 per cent of students could do division sums, while their counterparts showing the skills in public schools are 43.1 per cent.

Quite interestingly, some 9.7 per cent of the out-of-school children assessed at their homes proved their mettle in solving division sums and 17.2 per cent children could do subtraction.

In the survey of children's learning outcomes in reading Urdu or their mother tongue and English of grade-II, it was gathered that 51.4 per cent of children could read sentences in Urdu or their mother tongue, while 33.5 per cent of children could read sentences in English.

While recording attendance level of students, the ASER survey found that 84.7 per cent of children as per register and 80.9 per cent according to headcount were present in government schools. In private schools, these ratios stood at 89.2 per cent and 86.6 per cent.

The teachers' attendance level in government and private schools was recorded at 85.4 per cent and 89.6 per cent.

The survey showed that 80.1 per cent public primary schools and 92.4 per cent private primary schools had useable water facility. While, 69.9 per cent public and 88.1 per cent private schools had functional toilets.

Speaking at the launch, LUMS Pro-Chancellor Syed Babar Ali said private schools' teachers were drawing less salary than their counterparts' in public schools, still they were producing better results. At LUMS, he said, it had been made mandatory that every student would teach at a public school for one month as a part of his curriculum activity. He said that a similar initiative should also be taken in public universities and colleges.

Punjab chief minister's adviser Zakia Shahnawaz, Justice (retired) Nasira Iqbal, Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi director programme Baela Raza Jamil and MPA Asma Mamdot also spoke.

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Dawn Education Expo
Lahore: The ninth annual DAWN Education Expo 2012 will open at the Pearl Continental Hotel here on Wednesday (today) at 11am.

The largest education expo to be held in Pakistan, it will assemble over 150 leading international and local universities and colleges, notably from Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Malaysia, North Cyprus, Turkey, UK, Australia, USA and the UAE.

The exhibition is aimed at helping institutes of higher learning reach cross-section of local students who have the qualifications and the means to pursue further education in Pakistan or abroad, a press release says.

At the exhibition, faculty, admission officers and career counselors from participating institutes will interact with visiting students directly on a one-on-one basis. The event has been scheduled at a time when most participating institutions are enrolling students.

The exhibition will be open from 11am to 7pm on Feb 8 and 9 and there will be no entry fee.

A similar exhibition was held at the Jinnah Convention Centre in Islamabad on Feb 5 and 6. After Lahore, the concluding exhibition will be held in Karachi on Feb 12. Dawn

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PU results
Lahore: Punjab University Examinations Department has announced results of BS Home Economics, Part-I (First Year & Second Year), 2nd Annual Exam 2011, and BSc Home Economics, Third Year & Final Year, Annual Exam 2011.

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Book fair ends
Lahore: The 26th Lahore International Book Fair concluded at Expo Centre, Johar Town, here on Tuesday night. The five-day book fair attracted many people from different walks of life providing them an opportunity to explore books on a various topics. Besides local, a number of foreign publishers from India, USA, UK, Singapore, Turkey and Germany participated in the event.

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NCVI named after Dr Atta
Islamabad: In order to pay tributes to Dr Atta-ur-Rahman's eminent services as leading scholar and proficient scientist, renaming ceremony of NUST Centre of Virology and Immunology (NCVI) as Atta-ur-Rahman School of Applied Biosciences was held here on Tuesday.

The ceremony was attended by Dr Anwar Naseem, members of NUST administration, principals and deans of NUST Constituent Schools/Colleges and the faculty and students of NCVI.

Professor Dr Muhammad Ashraf, Principal NCVI, highlighted various accomplishments within the short span of time. He specifically mentioned the centre's mission to contribute towards eradication of animal and plant infectious and autoimmune diseases like dengue, hepatitis B/C, cotton leaf curl virus, wheat rust, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus type II, etc.

He highlighted the richness of NCVI faculty and their research interests. During the past four years NCVI published 75 research articles in high Impact Factor International Journals along with winning over 25 research grants from various international agencies like US State Department, EU Commission, Bill Gates Foundation, COMSTEC/TWAS, etc.

Rector NUST, Engineer Muhammad Asghar while expressing his gratitude to the venerable scientist on consenting to name the Centre after him graded Dr Atta-ur-Rahman as an icon within the academic circles. He further added that it was only through his extremely dedicated and committed endeavours that Pakistan was able to achieve laurels in higher education.

Dr Atta-ur-Rahman extended his heartiest gratitude to the rector NUST for conferring upon him this unique honour. The chief guest valued the extremely efficient functioning of NUST within the circles of sciences and technology and appreciated the way it meets the research needs of the scholars.

The great scientist also asserted that the scholars should realize the urgency of directing all their energies towards personalised evolution of innovative sciences. He was also of the view that Pakistan had never been victimised by the scarcity of individual talent, potential and natural resources; the only need was to exploit all those reservoirs.

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Polytechnic college for girls on the cards
Rawalpindi: A plan to convert the site of the old building of Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation (RMC) at Jinnah Road into a polytechnic college for girls is on the cards.

Credible sources said here on Tuesday that the land of the old RMC building was taken into possession by the Privatisation Commission of Pakistan. However, with the efforts of Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif, the property has been handed back to the Punjab government. Initially, the Punjab government after regaining the possession of the building had decided to auction it to private firms. However, this plan did not click due to reportedly high price fixed in the auction.

Non-utilisation of the RMC building for many years made its condition dilapidated and at nighttime it was used by drug addicts. The Rawalpindi Development Authority had decided to build a parking lot at the building site, which was opposed by the present Tehsil Administration, Rawal Town, on the grounds that the property belongs to it.

Similarly, the previous government of Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi had decided to compensate the affected people of the Committee Chowk underpass in the RMC office, which was also not enforced due to high demand made by the affected traders and businessmen.

Moreover, according to sources, former federal minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed had decided to transform the building into a degree college for girls but after change in the government this plan remained unimplemented.

However, present parliamentarians of the PML-N including Malik Shakil Awan and MPA Sheharyar Riaz floated the idea of constructing a polytechnic college for girls, which the Punjab chief minister approved. An amount of Rs200 million would be allocated for the purpose and the project would be funded by the Punjab government.

After completion of negotiation process, work on its feasibility study would be initiated and the project would be kicked off during the next fiscal year.

Though Malik Shakil Awan, commenting over it, agreed that a polytechnic institute would be built at the site of the old RMC building, but Commissioner Rawalpindi Zahid Iqbal gave a negative response. According to him, the land is still in possession of the Privatisation Commission and not given back to the Punjab government.

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Roundtable on Human development at NUST
Islamabad: Pakistan has been lagging behind in many areas for achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as the country's 28 per cent population is facing malnutrition against envisaged target to bring it down to 13 per cent by 2015. It will be unlikely to achieve this goal within the envisaged deadline, said UNDP's Country head Toshihiro Tanaka.

Addressing a roundtable on Human Development organised by National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) here at NUST Campus on Tuesday, he said: "The purchasing power declined by 30 per cent because of increase in prices of wheat in last few years in Pakistan."

The conference was organised to sensitise the government, policy makers, academics, development partners and others as to the importance of human development.

The roundtable was attended by the deputy chairman, Planning Commission, the secretaries of the Planning & Development Division and Ministry of Human Rights, the resident representative of the UNDP and Director of the Human Development Report Office of the UNDP in New York. The roundtable was also attended by the representatives of various UN bodies, international financial institutions, academics, researcher, former federal ministers, Rector NUST and students of the Business School of the NUST.

Federal Secretary Saeed Alvi criticised the massive spending on military budget and said that the priorities in the country have always been to fight wars, prepares for wars and enmities with neighbours. " Pakistan has been turned into a security state and we are wrongly aligning our priorities," he said.

He stressed the need for the change in mindsets, cultural practices and unnecessary intrude of religion in the state. "Civil servants are usually considered as the agents of change, but in our country civil servants are clueless about the solution of the existing problems," he said.

Toshihiro Tanaka, the Resident Representative of the UNDP talked about reducing poverty, improving upon the MDGs and measuring progress. He argued that in some cases, Pakistan is ahead of others in indicators, but that it is lagging behind in many indicators. Hence, Pakistan must redouble its efforts to achieve the MDG targets. "Pakistan is lagging behind in 26 indicators while progressing in only six indicators," he said.

He also highlighted the gender disparity in the country and said that there are a total of seven million out of children school in Pakistan among which 60 per cent are girls. He said that growth rates of real GDP have been more synchronised than ever.

Human Development Report Office Khalid Malik presented various human development indicators of South Asia and emphasised that Pakistan should give importance in improving these indicators as it has taken behind in South Asia.

He pointed out that social policies are as good as economic policies. "While we give importance to economic policies to promote growth, what is important is the quality of growth. Growth should benefit the largest segment of society. In other words, there should be democratisation of growth," he said adding that poverty and inequality should be at the centre of economic policy in Pakistan.

He also stressed the need for the increased literacy rate in the country. "Literacy not only transforms a person but the whole society," he remarked. He said that there were many things that matters in human development, which mainly include budget, leadership and appropriate action besides the provision of basic facilities.

NUST Rector Muhammad Asghar highlighted the role of higher education in economic development. He argued that innovation requires knowledge and knowledge can be provided by the universities, therefore, investment in education including higher education is the key to our success. "According to vision 2030, five Pakistani universities should be top 200 universities of the world and two universities should be in top five," he said.

Dr. Ashfaque H. Khan, the Principal & Dean of NUST Business School emphasised upon investing in people. He argued that given the age structure of Pakistan's population where 50 per cent are below the age of 20 years, Pakistan has no option, but to invest in people, particularly the young population to make them productive citizen of the country and reap the benefits of demographic transition for five decades.

Dr. M. Akram Sheikh, the former deputy chairman, Planning Commission, while summarising the discussion announced that the NUST and the UNDP, along with the HDR office, New York have agreed in principle to set up the NUST Human Development Studies, based in its Business School. "The purpose for setting up this centre at NUST is to conduct quality research on various aspects of human development," he said.

He said that an advisory board would be set up under the chairmanship of NUST rector with persons of international repute working in the areas of human development brought in as members. "An annual conference will be held on human development under the auspicious of the newly established NUST Human Development Studies Centre where scholars will be presenting their papers on human development. It has been further agreed that Annual Human Development Awards will be given to those scholars who have contributed to the fields of human development," he informed.

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Certificates awarded to 19 teachers
Islamabad: The Faculty Development Academy (FDA) of Comsats Institute of Information Technology (CIIT), Islamabad, in collaboration with the Learning & Innovation Division and Higher Education Commission distributed certificates among the nineteen teachers of public

sector colleges and universities in Islamabad on completing a one-month training workshop on 'English for Specific Purpose'.

According to a press release issued here on Tuesday, the workshop was conducted from January 2 to February 3. The overall goal of the training workshop was to help raise the quality of knowledge that the trained teachers impart. The news

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