Punjab higher education & private schools

Higher education no more CM's priority?
Lahore, Jan 05: The education sector, especially higher education, no more seems to be a priority of the Chief Minister Punjab which is quite evident from inordinate delay being witnessed in appointment/posting of the officials at public universities and examination boards across the province.

What to talk about the appointment of regular incumbents even the Punjab government has so far miserably failed to decide whether the posts of Vice Chancellors of University of Education and Lahore College for Women University (LCWU) will be advertised or not.

The tenure of both the VCs had expired on November 20, 2010 and at present the said posts were being looked after by officials as stopgap arrangement only.

Similarly, a delay is being witnessed in case of appointment of the Controller of Examination at five different Boards of Intermediate & Secondary Educations (BISEs) of the province. The posts fell vacant a couple of months ago and since then the same have been occupied by officials till further orders. While another glaring example in connection with inordinate delay is related to removal of dozens of officials of public varsities of the province whose appointment against key posts is being dubbed as illegal in the wake of October 5 judgment of a division bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC). The stakeholders, especially those aspirants to the coveted posts, are quite critical of the delay in case of the University of Education and LCWU. They argue if handled similarly an unfortunate situation will be waiting in other future cases too. It is pertinent to mention here that the terms of four other VCs will expire in the near future, including Government College University Lahore's Prof Dr Khalid Aftab (February 25, 2011), Bahauddin Zakariya University (BZU) Multan's Dr Muhammad Zafarullah (January 26, 2011) and University of Sargodha's Prof Dr Muhammad Akram Ch (February 11, 2011) and Fatima Jinnah Women University (FJWU) Rawalpindi's Prof Dr Saeeda Asadullah Khan (March 11, 2011).

It is also worth mentioning here that appointment of a regular VC is a much time consuming exercise. The candidates are asked to apply for the post after advertisements in the newspapers. Then the scrutiny process takes place and the candidates are short-listed. Afterwards, the selected candidates are called for interview by the Search Committee and later a panel of top three candidates is sent to the Chief Minister and a final decision in this regard is taken by the Governor/Chancellor on the advice of the Chief Minister. However, one wonders why the government, being well informed about expiry of term of VCs, does not take up the case and the varsities suffer owing to absence of top administrators.

Nonetheless, the situation creates doubts that by not taking up the cases of near future, the government does not want to expose its true intentions of awarding extension to its favourites as witnessed in the past. Many of the top officials of different universities whose appointment is being dubbed as illegal in the wake of October 5 judgment of a division bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) are going to retire in the near future. Nevertheless, it is unfortunate that just owing to sluggishness of the Punjab government these officials are still enjoying the coveted posts and are more likely to retire before action is taken. The sensitive posts of controller of examination at five different BISEs, including that of Lahore, fell vacant a couple of months ago but again thanks to the lethargic attitude of the government that the process of finding suitable individuals is still on and no regular incumbent could be posted at the boards so far.

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Private schools draw Punjab Assembly wrath
Lahore: The "unbridled" working of private schools was the subject of a heated debate at the Punjab Assembly here on Monday.

The issue was raised by PML-Q's forward bloc MPA Sheikh Allauddin who was also joined by PPP parliamentarians Syed Hassan Murtaza and Makhdoom Muhammad Irtaza.

On a point of order, Sheikh Allauddin drew attention of the house towards "unbridled" working of private schools across the province, saying parents of students studying at private institutions were very upset over extraordinary fee charged by the institutions.

He showed the house the voucher of a private school which had charged Rs 60,000 fee from a nursery class student. He said private schools were charging fee at their own will in the absence of any check, adding that it was unfortunate that some schools were even charging Rs 15,000 per month from a prep student. "Other hidden charges and stationery charges etc are not included in the fee," he added. PPP's Hassan Murtaza said a committee already formed on private schools in the Punjab Assembly seemed to have done nothing.

Makhdoom Irtaza of the same party demanded the government also take notice of private schools which were alluring parents to enroll their children. He also demanded the government take measures to cap the fee structure of private schools.

Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan asked Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan, who was heading a PA committee on private schools, to explain progress of the committee.

However, the minister expressed his helplessness, saying he could not recall progress in the regard. "I will be able to explain after I get information from the secretariat," he added. Another important subject which drew attention of the house was related to the Bank of Punjab (BoP). It surfaced during a supplementary question by Sheikh Allauddin who alleged that appointments in the bank were made on the basis of facial beauty and family contacts in violation of merit and transparency. He alleged the process of appointments in the bank was flawed, adding that it was unfortunate that people were appointed through a faulty process who were responsible for sanctioning loans.

The MPA claimed he knew some officers in grade II and III who were appointed merely on the basis of CVs while the posts had not even been advertised.

However, Finance Minister Tanvir Ashraf Kaira said the appointments had been made in line with procedures and guidelines of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). "A proper procedure was followed in the appointments."

He, however, admitted the appointments had been made without advertisement, adding it was only in case of experienced candidates that were recruited after a proper procedure including interviews. The minister also informed the house that 893 appointments were made during years 2002-2005, adding the majority of them were made after advertisement in the press.

To another question, Tanvir Ashraf Kaira said two different inquiries were in process against two officers of the BoP Chunian branch, district Kasur, for alleged fraud, however, his answer did not satisfy MPA Sheikh Allauddin who insisted there were reports of more frauds in the branch. Monday's session, which started with a delay of almost one and a half hours, also held a question-answer session on the Finance Department. The news

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Pvt schools to revolt against regulatory body
Islamabad: All Pakistan Private Schools and Colleges Association's (APPSCA) Central President Malik Abrar Hussain urged government to abolish the Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (PEIRA) and establish a registration department to replace it for all private schools in the country.

Malik said the registration department should be established under either the Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (FBISE) or Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) as all the private institutions in the federal capital were academically suffering while the PEIRA was controlling educational institutions only in Islamabad.

As many as 650 private schools are running in the federal capital out of which 250 private schools are located in urban areas and 400 in rural areas,

PIERA has failed to facilitate private schools' owners in registering, renewing registration, certification and other matters since its inception in 2006, it is learnt. In a meeting of Executive Councils of APPSCA, Abrar said the association wanted the self financed regulatory authority abolished as it had failed to achieve desired goals behind imparting education in private schools.

"We want an end to this system with immediate effect because it has burdened the poor who send their children for quality education," APPSCA president said.

He said millions of Rupees were minted from poor students in the name of security, registration, inspection, and many other ways due to this system. He added the association demanded to get the money back from the authority and its immediate release to all respective private institutions, so that the poor students could continue their study. He said all the private schools and colleges demanded the PEIRA closed down after its continuous failure to help provide quality education to students in the private institutions.

"Because of the authority's unfriendly policies and behaviours, dozens of private schools in twin cities have been shut down and many are in standing this queue," Malik said.

He said the PEIRA was set up according to the ordinance issued by former President Pervaiz Musharraf in 2006 seeking the registeration of private schools and colleges in Islamabad. He said the APPSCA had to consume considerable amount even for registration and certification fee.

"As a result, we have no option other than to get money from students," he underlined.

Malik warned the Ministry of Education that if their demands were not fulfilled by negotiations, the APPSCA would notify all private schools not to renew their institutions at the time of inspection. He observed that when no school would pay and get renewed its registration, the PIERA would automatically come to an end.

During the course of meeting, the APPSCA members including Vice President Malik Deen Muhammad Awan, General Secretary Dr Imran, Joint Secretary Muhammad Ashraf Hiraj also spoke on the issue. Daily times

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Research training programme
Lahore: The four-month Talented Researcher Exchange Programme (TRXP) concluded at the Government College University (GCU) here on Saturday. According to a press statement, over 100 researchers from 25 educational and professional institutions took part in the programme which was aimed at enhancing the indigenous research culture in Pakistan and help broaden the impact of research projects and their sustainability. The participants were also equipped with active thinking and learning procedures through lectures and hands-on practice during three workshops which were spread over 24 sessions. The young researchers were also trained in building strong research networks and writing grant winning research proposals under the Talented Researcher Exchange Programme.

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Illegal textbooks seized
Lahore: A team of Punjab Textbook Board (PTB) and Sandha Police station raided a printing press involved in illegally printing textbooks of different classes on Saturday. The raid was carried out in the Sandha area during which thousands of fake textbooks of class 2 to 7, worth around Rs 4 million, were seized. The team besides confiscating the textbooks and machinery also arrested six people from the printing press. The news

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Essay competition results declared
Lahore: The results of Chief Minister's speech, essay writing and art competitions held at the provincial level on Dec 22 have been declared.

According to a handout, Rao Muhammad Javed Sattar (Govt High School Ali Sher Wan, Jahania, Khanewal), Imran Javed (GHS Deer Kot, Rawalpindi) and Sakhaullah Khan, Ghazali Pubic Schol, Zafarwal, Narowal) got first, second and third position, respectively, among boys in Urdu essay writing competition held at Government Model H/S, Model Town, Lahore.

Nimra Shahzadi (Govt Girls High School, Binatul Islam, Sahiwal), Amber Naeem (Angel School System, Daska, Sialkot) and Tasmia Bushra (Govt Girls High School, Talagang, Chakwal) secured first, second and third positions respectively among girls in Urdu essay writing competition held at Government Model Girls H/S, Model Town, Lahore.

Similarly Shahriyar Naeem (DPS Inter College, Sahiwal), Arsalan Aslam (The Learning High School, Kot Radha Kishan, Kasur) and Hafiz Mohsin Raza (Government Pilot Secondary School, Sharaqpur, Nankana) got first, second and third positions, respectively, among boys in English essay writing competition held at Government Model H/S, Model Town, Lahore.

Ameena Rasheed (Pak Garison Girls High School, Nankana Sahib), Hafza Umar (FJPS School, Fateh Jhang, Attock) and Shanza Akram (DPS Bhakkar) stood first, second and third, respectively, among girls in English essay writing competition held at Government Model Girls H/S, Model Town, Lahore. Dawn

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BTech degree holders demand separate council
Lahore: The Pakistan BTech Engineers Community (PBEC) on Saturday held a protest demonstration in front of the Lahore Press Club for non-consideration of BTech (Hons) equivalent to four-year BSc engineering.

TPBEC representative, Nouman Abid, said the BTech degree was started in 1973 on the demand of the Diploma of Associate Engineers (DAE) associations.

He said the BTech degree was offered at 16 public and private sector universities and thousands of graduates were being produced every year in the country.

Nouman said that previous government had amended the PEC Act in 2003, directing the PEC to register the BTech graduates as technologists and DAE as technicians, but the government had recently amended the PEC Act and removed the technologist and technician categories. He said the bill had been passed by the National Assembly and forwarded to the Senate for approval.

He said the PEC had announced that it would not consider the four-year BTech degree equivalent to the BSc engineering. He said the government should make a separate council for technicians, named "Pakistan Technology Council". Daily times

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PGMI Convocation
Lahore: The 4th convocation of Postgraduate Medical Institute (PGMI), Lahore, will be held on February 26. According to a press release issued here on Monday, the ceremony will be organised for the doctors and specialists who secured their degrees in the academic session of 2009-10. PGMI Principal Prof Dr Tariq Salah Uddin said the doctors, specialists and position holders would get degrees in time in future. The news

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NCA students' proposals for flood-hit areas put on display
Lahore: National College of Arts (NCA) student's proposals for the rehabilitation of flood-hit areas were put on display at the Zahoorul Akhlaq Art Gallery on Monday. Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer's wife Aamna Taseer inaugurated the event and was also the chief guest.

Fourth year students of the Design Studio and Urban Planning class were given the project to take part in a survey of the flood-hit areas and to suggest proposals. The exhibition showed the process the students had adopted, showing documentation, analysis of the data and proposed interventions. The students worked in four villages in groups of 13 each. The exhibition was a presentation of each group. The students also took part in the Swat Heritage Foundation.

Project Manager Professor Fauzia Qureshi said that as part of responsibility of an institution imparting architectural education along with social consciousness, the NCA had initiated a flood relief campaign for the 2010 floods in August.

She said that Governor Taseer had initiated a programme for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of houses and had requested universities and institutions to assist in its execution. The NCA 4th year Design Studio project has been dovetailed into this programme to provide technical assistance to the governor's initiative, she said, adding that the concept of the Architecture Design Studio Housing Project was based on the premise of addressing housing as a process. Aamna Taseer praised the work done by the students and assured them that their proposals would be implemented. Daily times

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