Allama Iqbal Open University irregularities

Audit want recovery of millions from AIOU VC
Islamabad, Jan 9: Unearthing serious irregularities in the Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) affairs, an external audit team has recommended the recovery of Rs 2,655,921 from the vice-chancellor (VC) of the university on account of irregular withdrawal of pay and allowances, The News learnt here on Friday.

"The Vice-Chancellor, Prof Mahmoodul Hassan Butt, has completed his four-year term on October 24, 2009 and as per the university act, the vice-chancellor cannot be granted an extension but the incumbent VC is still holding the office," an official source said, requesting anonymity.

"During the course of audit of the AIOU for the year 2007-09, it was observed that the VC was appointed by the President of Pakistan being chancellor of the university as per Section 8 of the act vide U O No 229/32(15)Dir (C-1)/05 dated 8 October 2005 for a four-year term," says the audit report, a copy of which is available with The News.

Prof Mahmoodul Hassan Butt on Thursday told The News about the audit objections and irregularities that it was the right of the audit to raise objections but in various instances they had quoted old rules, which have already been amended.

He said the AIOU was properly responding to the audit objections. He, however, did not comment on the expiry of his service contract.

"It was mentioned in the letter that the terms and conditions of the VC will be settled later on. In the absence of the settled terms and conditions, the VC fixed his pay package Rs 134,000 per month plus 30% (40,200) allowances. The terms and conditions of the VC was settled vide UO No 229/33(8)Dir (C-1)/2005 dated 22 May, 2008. According to the terms and condition, payment of house rent together with a free furnished university accommodation is not permissible under the rule. Only one facility can be available at a time," the report points out.

"Prior approval of the chancellor was not obtained for the enhanced salary Rs274,000 per month from 25-10-2005 to 10-05-2006 already drawn by the VC. The Finance Division has not recommended regularisation of the provisional salary," it adds.

The audit report says that the utility bills on account of the VC house, paid by the university for the period from October 24, 2005 to June 30, 2007, have not been calculated along with the excess withdrawal of pay and might be calculated and recovered along with salary overpayment.

The report says that no reply was furnished to the audit objection by the university.The official also pointed out that the incumbent AIOU VC is a US citizen and was especially invited by former President Pervez Musharraf to head the university. He said the AIOU has 36 regions all over Pakistan and in Azad Kashmir and the region head, Ali Asghar Hasnain, is working on 89-day contract since April 25, 2009. He said the post of region head is a permanent position and, as per the university act, nobody could be appointed in this position on contract basis.

In para 1, the audit has pointed out a loss of Rs3.160 million on account of interest due to retention of deposits into current account instead of PLS (National Income Daily Account) account.

The departmental reply stated: "That there is no hard and fast rule/specific time schedule available for the banks to transfer funds from current account to PLS neither there is any clause included in the agreement with banks, therefore, we can't charge any bank of 'retention of deposit' into the current account instead of PLS account. Similarly, the amount computed and declared as loss of Rs3.160 million by the external audit is not based upon pragmatism."

The audit, however, commented that the reply is unsatisfactory because non-formulation of fee transfer to AIOU account is a fault on the part of the management. Due to this fault, the AIOU is losing profit on this account, it added.

In para 2, the audit has pointed out irregular collections of Rs45.078 million from students violating the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) order. The audit quoted the SBP BPRD circular letter No 06 dated March 14, 2007 that instructed all the banks to refrain from levy of any kind of service charges on collection of educational fee from the students of educational institutions.

It stated that the SBP has not prohibited banks from recovering their postal/courier cost from the students on account of collection of their educational fees but as per the SBP order, the banks could only recover their postal/courier charges from the students. It pointed out that no evidence (bills/voucher) of the payment of the amount to postal/courier service provider was shown to audit, therefore, the collection of fee from the students by the banks is held irregular and unjustified.

In the departmental reply, the AIOU management tried to justify these charges, which according to it, are allowed by the SBP vide letter No BPRD (LCGD-a)/8635/2007 dated August 24, 2007.

The audit, however, described the reply unsatisfactory because, according to it, in the SBP letter, cost of courier is allowed while the banks are charging service charges as well in violation of rules. It says the AIOU reply is silent about courier charges by the banks located on the AIOU campus.

In para 16, the audit report has recommended recovery of Rs2.212 million on account of conveyance allow. "During the course of audit of AIOU Islamabad campus for the year 2007-09, it was observed that the following officers and staff were residing in the university colony but were also drawing monthly conveyance allowance. As per government rules, officers and staff residing in the premises of the office could not allow conveyance allowance," the audit report says.

"The recovery pointed out by the audit is for the year 2007-09 while they are residing since long. Accurate calculation may be worked out and the amount paid on account of the conveyance allowance may be recovered from the concern under intimation to audit," it adds.

"In this connection, it is submitted that no official of the university is residing at the main campus who is being paid conveyance allowance. The same university employees are provided residential accommodation at the employees colony situated at the distance of about one Km from the main campus.

The conveyance allowance being paid to the university employees is, therefore, in order and in accordance with the instruction/order of the government on the subjects," the department reply stated.

The audit team, however, commented that the reply is unsatisfactory. It stated that the colony is situated on the premises of the AIOU, therefore, conveyance allowance is not allowed under rules.

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Task Force to help implement education reforms
Islamabad: Prime Minister's Task Force on Education will focus on building capacity of federal and provincial governments to implement the education reforms envisioned in the National Education Policy (NEP).

The official sources informed that Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani set up the task force on the recommendation of the Education Ministry.

The task force will steer the federal and provincial ministries in setting priorities and marking targets for bringing changes in school system and for garnering positive results.

The Task Force recently met for two days to thrash out issues and take a fresh look at the state of affairs in education and gauge performance of various stakeholders.

The meeting took stock of the ongoing private public partnership in school system and stressed the need for bringing uniformity in education sector.

It called on devising an effective mechanism to ensure the upgradation of the education system to meet modern day requirements.

Advisor to PM on Social Sector and Co-Chairperson of the Task Force Shahnaz Wazir Ali told APP the task force has been entrusted the responsibility to improve education

with a renewed emphasis on equity, quality and governance. The task force will set eyes on meeting the target of achieving 86 percent literacy rate by 2015. The news

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Girls primary education
Islamabad: To accelerate progress towards gender parity and equality in education and its achievement by 2015, the second meeting of the Federal Chapter of the Gender in Education Policy Support Project (GEPSP) was held on Friday which forms part of a national coalition to mainstream gender in education.

The meeting was attended by senior officials of the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Women Development, Ministry of Social Welfare and Special Education, members of academia, representatives of the non-Governmental Organisations and representatives of donor organisations including DFID and specialised agencies of United Nations.

Ministry of Education JEA Aurangzeb Rehman speaking on the occasion remarked the GEPSP models to strengthen the government's knowledge and capacity for evidence-based planning of gender in education offers a sustainable solution to address the prevailing gaps in policy-making and planning.

The project aims to build linkages between the various research and knowledge development institutions in the country and abroad. It also seeks to build and enhance capacities of the policy makers, managers and the implementers, he added.

He highlighted that with a primary male enrolment of 57 percent compared to 43 percent for girls, Pakistan had yet to achieve the MDG targets of gender parity and equality.

Lack of school readiness, delayed school entry, high-grade repetition, low achievement and low completion all contribute towards the low participation of girls in education thus reflecting problems of gender equity in Pakistan. The nation

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CDA planned Education City in federal capital
Islamabad: Capital Development Authority (CDA) has planned to establish an 'Education City' in the federal capital and identified a huge strip of land located near Shakarparian for the establishment of the campuses of renowned educational institutes and hostels on public-private partnership.

"We want to make the federal capital an educational hub. The City will be developed on public-private partnership," Chairman CDA Imtiaz Inayat Elahi told this news agency on Friday.

The concept of Education City has been derived from developed countries where such cities are serving well since years as Dubai Knowledge Village, Education City Qatar, Education City UK, Kuala Lumpur Education City and Hong Kong Education City.

He said the idea is in its concept phase and the Authority would work out all options to make the project feasible for CDA that is currently facing a severe financial meltdown for the last couple of years.

"The Education City aims to be the centre of educational excellence in the region, instructing students in various fields of education. It is also conceived as a forum where universities share research and forge relationships with businesses and institutions in public and private sectors," said Imtiaz Inayat Elahi.

The CDA chairman said that land has been specified, owing to its ideal location near Islamabad Highway and is easily accessible to the people of the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

He said renowned local and international universities have approached the Authority and expressed their interest in establishing their campuses in the Education City, as the federal capital was facing a dearth of land for the purpose.

Besides the educational campuses, the land would also be specified for the construction of hostels for students as well as teachers and other professionals, as presently, the students and professionals avoid coming to Islamabad, just owing to residential issues.

Imtiaz Inayat Elahi said the Authority has also got the consent of Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani in this regard, who has applauded the idea and assured cooperation.

He said the Authority is also planning to establish its own educational institutions in the City where students would be provided education of international standard to bring them at par with the students of other institutes.

When questioned, he said CDA would not hire any consultant for the purpose; rather it would assign the task to its own team. However, educationists would be engaged for the purpose.

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BCA students artwork
Rawalpindi: The students of Bachelors of Computer Arts at Fatima Jinnah Women University presented their artworks in collage at an exhibition here on Friday.

In all, 54 students displayed the art under the course of paintography, taught by Nasir Malik.

The display provided an opportunity to the young and aspiring artists to exhibit their talent through displaying their creative endeavours in an innovative manner.

Vice Chancellor FJWU Professor Dr Saeeda Asadullah Khan, while inaugurating the exhibition, appreciated the efforts and hard work of the students, terming their diverse and creative work as remarkable and worth watching.

She also appreciated the efforts of Nasir Malik, saying that the work done by the students is very impressive and indeed a showcase of their hard work amalgamated with the support and dedication of their teachers.

Dean Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences Professor Dr Samina Amin Qadir and a large number of faculty members were also present on the occasion.

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KEF education goals
Rawalpindi: The Kashmir Education Foundation (KEF) held its 24th Board of Trustees meeting at its head office here on Friday. It was chaired by KEF Chairman Vice Admiral (r) Farooq Rashid.

The board reviewed the KEF's progress during the previous year and set new goals for the current year, aimed at imparting quality education to the underprivileged segments of society in remote areas.

The board also resolved to undertake futuristic improvements at its Institute of Teachers Education (ITE) near Rawat, aimed at producing quality teachers for English medium schools.

The ITE, affiliated with the Bahria University, conducts a postgraduate diploma course in education for rural female graduates.

The board appreciated the excellent performance of KEF's Pearl Valley Public School and College in the SSC and HSSC examinations. The chairman said that the KEF planned to open new schools subsequently in every tehsil.

The upcoming projects include schools in Gujar Khan, Pattoki, Bahawalnagar, Sialkot and Mirpur.

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IIU mosque construction
Islamabad: A meeting of the special committee for the construction of Jamia Masjid at the new campus of the International Islamic University (IIU) was held here on Friday.

The meeting was jointly chaired by IIU Vice President Parveen Qadir Agha and Professor Munawar Iqbal Ahmed, convener of the masjid committee. Participants of the meeting decided to constitute sub-committees to undertake the project.

The Fundraising Committee will be headed by Professor Dr. Sahibzada Sajid-ur-Rehman, while its members would include Dr. Habib-ur-Rehman Asim, Dr. Muhammad Saleem Shah, Dr. Abdullah Riaz, Dr. Suleman Al-Hawamda and Dr. Ubaidullah Khan. The Press & Media Committee will be headed by Muzammil Hussain Shah. Financial Planning Committee will have Attiquzafar and Ishtiaq Ahmed.

Alumni Committee would have Dr Hafiz Muhammad Bashir and Dr Rehmat Ellahi. Students Participation Committee would have Charagh Ali. Main Steering Committee would have Munawar Iqbal Ahmed.

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Students sports activities
Rawalpindi: Sports play a pivotal role in the makeup of a young athlete, especially in middle to high school years when student athletes are much more mature and mentally developed.

These views were shared by Syed Dalawar Abbas, president of the Pakistan Tennis Federation, at the inauguration ceremony of a tennis event held at the Roots School System (RSS) in Satellite Town here on Friday.

The president was of the view that the first thing the students need is a good core of coaches that understand the great responsibility placed upon their shoulders to help shape and prepare these student athletes not only in sports but in their everyday lives.

Dalawar also made the assurance to promote tennis at Roots School System and showed his interest to have a competition amongst the students at the intercity level.

Rashid Malik, coach and captain of the Pakistan National Tennis Team, was also invited on the occasion, who encouraged the students to adopt tennis as a sport.

Director RSS Walid Mushtaq said tennis is a lifetime sport that builds self-confidence and self-esteem, and teaches self-discipline, self-reliance and respect for others.

The base of the world's tennis structure is the school and club, so RSS would encourage the students to be part of this game and be a regular member of the 'RSS Sports Club', he said and added that building a love for the game of tennis starts with learning proper grips, footwork, strokes and volleys in an effort to develop into a total player.

"For that, RSS is providing all coaching guidance and counselling to the students," he said. The news

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