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Pending inquiry into BIEK cheating

No progress has been made in the case: a cover-up in the works?
Karachi, Jan 03: Five months after an expose was published about the sale of answers sheets by some staffers of the Board of Intermediate Education (BIEK) and the subsequent ordering of an inquiry by the Sindh Governor, no progress has been made in the case and the guilty persons remain at large, unpunished and unhindered.

What makes this case more interesting is that there is a clear conflict of interest when it comes to the one man inquiry committee appointed to look into the case by the Sindh Governor, Dr Ishrat Ul Ibad, who is understood to have been most distressed by the contents of the story.

However, it was learnt that there are many powerful quarters who have pushed to have the case closed and that is why the fate of the inquiry findings into the matter remain up in the air. On July 21, 2008, we published as story about the sale of already-submitted examination booklets to candidates by a chain of corrupt officials of BIEK.

The report contained irrefutable evidence in the form of images of the examination booklets and disclosed that a chain of corrupt employees, including higher officials of the BIEK, were involved in this serious irregulairity. The report said BIEK officials were found involved in selling the candidates their original and already-submitted examination booklets as well as blank ones for rewriting their papers.

As the copies were being sold for Rs20,000 to Rs30,000 each, candidates with deep pockets grabbed the opportunity and purchased the copies for their desired subjects. In some cases, a whole set of copies were purchased by candidates to make sure they could re-write their entire examination and secure their seats in top graduate colleges by getting high scores.

After the publication of this news item, an inquiry was constituted by the Sindh Governor. The fate of this inquiry despite the passage of several months remains in doubt.

When contacted, Yusuf Jamal, Advisor to Governor Sindh and the head of that one-member inquiry committee said that a detailed report has been sent to the Governor "who will issue directives in this regard thus the matter has not been finalized as yet."

But inside sources who requested not to be named said that the Governor has been told that the story was false. What makes the inquiry report highly controversial is the fact that despite the fact that the story carried images of already-submitted examination booklets, the story was termed incorrect.

This week, when Jamal was asked about the fate of the committee, he refused to comment on its findings. But there are many who question this one member committee and also ask whether a conflict of interest has taken place. While the matter is yet to be decided, Yusuf Jamal attended a workshop on "Evaluation of examination system at secondary and intermediate levels" held at the Board of Intermediate Education Karachi (BIEK) on November 15, 2008.

Jamal is said to have been treated as the Chief Guest at BIEK program at the time when he was heading the inquiry committee to look into the matters of the BIEK. Asked if he could justify why he attended the program of BIEK at the time when an inquiry about the functioning of BIEK was underway, he said, "I was not the Chief Guest of that program and it was an interactive workshop."

Jamal said he had proposed to hold such workshops and more of such workshops would be held in the future with the Hyderabad and Sukkur Boards as well. But while the workshop in Karachi was arranged in almost no time at all, the ones that are to be held elsewhere have not been held to date. The News

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Rangers, students scuffle at Karachi University
Karachi: A minor clash occurred between the Rangers and members of a student organization outside the University of Karachi (KU), when members of the organization were entering the university to offer Friday prayers. A member of Imamia Students Organization (ISO), Qasim Raza, was entering KU to offer Friday prayers when Rangers personnel stopped him and asked him to show his identity card, which he did not have on him. Discovering that Qasim did not have his ID card, the Rangers personnel ordered him to go back.

This caused other ISO activists to protest, insisting upon taking Qasim for prayers. On this, Rangers baton-charged the students and refused to allow Qasim to enter the university. ISO Divisional Information Secretary Muhammad Ali told Daily Times that four ISO members, including Qasim Raza, M Shafi and Zahid Hussain, were injured in the incident. However, the Sindh Rangers spokesman denied the allegations made against the Rangers personnel and stated that two people who were outsiders and not KU students wanted to enter the premises without any valid reason. Since they did not have any identity or university cards on them, the Rangers personnel stopped them from entering. Daily Times

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Uniform curriculum for Montessori teachers
Karachi: The Sindh education department has formed a four-member committee to recommend and formulate a uniform curriculum for institutes imparting training to Montessori schoolteachers.

The committee has also been asked to suggest names of examining bodies which will be made responsible for conducting exams of candidates receiving Montessori schoolteachers' training from different Montessori teachers training institutes.

The committee comprising the provincial additional secretary (academic and training); the director of bureau of curriculum and extension wing, Jamshoro; the provincial director of private educational institutions; and the director-general of provincial institute of teachers training, Nawabshah; is expected to complete its task within two months.

Sources in the education department said that the decision to devise a uniform curriculum for the institutes providing training to Montessori teachers and to make it mandatory for such institutes to get their students examined from some educational boards were aimed at ensuring the credibility of the certificates of Montessori teachers.

According to them, Montessori teachers training institutes have adopted different curriculums for teachers training.

They said that neither was there uniformity in their curriculums nor those passing out from over a dozen Montessori teachers training institutes get proper jobs in schools. And it was, they said, despite that fact that Montessori schools were everywhere in the city, charging exorbitant fee from parents.

Sources said that major a flaw which had come to light regarding the affairs of Montessori teachers training institutes was that though they got their curriculum approved from the Sindh Board of Technical Education, they themselves were conducting exams for issuing Montessori schoolteacher certificates.

"Isn't it a joke that the institute that is providing training to its students is also giving them exams," remarked an official of the education department.

Asked what measures were being taken to check the mushroom growth of Montessori schools in the city, sources said that all such schools which were providing Montessori system of education had already been directed to get themselves registered with the provincial directorate of private educational institutes and once they were registered their affairs would be monitored in a much better way. Dawn

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