Foreign students' admission: PMDC 'faces pressure' to bend rules
Lahore, Jan 02: The embassies of some 'friendly' countries have exerted pressure on the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council through Economic Affairs Division (EAD) to end the condition of entrance test or scholastic aptitude test part-II (SAT-II) for their students with 'rudimentary background in English language' for admission to state-run medical institutions.
The admissions were sought under Pakistan Technical Assistance Program (PTAP) for 2011-12 session.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs & Statistics (Economic Affairs Division) oversees the admissions of foreign students to the disciplines of medicine and dentistry at graduate level under PTAP.
The embassies of theses countries for the first time expressed their reservations over the SAT-II condition implemented by PMDC for admissions to state-run medical and dental institutions for their students being citizens of non-English speaking countries, according to the documents available with Dawn.
Constant interference of the EAD and Prime Minister's Secretariat in the matters relating to admissions of foreign students under PTAP may jeopardise the medical education standard, analyst believe.
The EAD had managed to get 63 students of some 19 countries admitted to local colleges for the session 2010-11 by seeking one-time relaxation of entrance test or SAT-II condition last year.
But, now the Division has asked the PMDC for waiving off the condition for the students of all those countries with whom Pakistan was enjoying cordial relations as they were unable to compete for professional studies due to their poor English.
The EAD opened Pandora's Box with regard to admission criteria when it endorsed the viewpoint of these countries and communicated the same to the PMDC and heads of various medical institutions last month.
It also sent some fresh admission nominations for the session 2011-12, asking the authorities concerned to wave off the condition, which is in clear violation of PMDC Regulations of 2003 and 2010.
The Division has nominated total 55 candidates from some 17 countries for 2011-12 session on November 25 and later on December 9, 2011, issuing their names and the institutions against which the admissions were sought. The non-English speaking countries include Somalia, Iraq, Yemen, Turkey, Iran, Sudan, Mauritius, Afghanistan, Thailand, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bahrain, etc.
In 2010, the Punjab government while granting for the first time the one-time permission to 63 students had categorically conveyed to the PMDC, EAD and other authorities concerned about its decision to ensure implementation of the PMDC's admission criteria onwards.
"EAD and the HEC may be asked to ensure, in future, that all foreign candidates fulfill the conditions laid down in the prospectus before nominating them for admissions to public sector medical/dental colleges of Punjab. EAD and HEC should devise their own mechanism to widely disseminate the eligibility conditions for admission of foreign students in MBBS/BDS through Pakistani embassies in other countries and also to advertise these in international media," the official communiqué read.
"It would be more appropriate that HEC and EAD get the eligibility of these candidates verified by UHS before finalising their nomination. It must be made abundantly clear to them that Admission Board for Medical/Dental Institutions of the Punjab shall not entertain and candidate who does not fulfill basic minimum requirements for admission, including Entrance Test/SAT-II examination, as stipulated in the prospectus of the same session and the PMDC Regulations 2003 and 2010".
However, ignoring all the previous warnings and recommendations, the EAD 'directed' the UHS admission board chairman and heads of 14 other state-run medical and dental institutions of the country, "We have written to PMDC requesting for waiving off the condition of SAT-II because all the beneficiary countries under PTAP have expressed their concern about this test".
Of these 17 countries, the PMDC has exempted students of Afghanistan from SAT-II examination on the intervention of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani holding them eligible for admission to government medical institutions for the 2011-12 session.
The decision on the matters of other countries was under consideration.
Considering the EAD's constant interference in the admission matters as an 'excess', the UHS had categorically refused to compromise on the minimum admission criteria set by the PMDC, a source said.
Last week, the source said, the UHS refused to issue no objection certificate (NOC) to a female Turkish student admitted to Fatima Jinnah Medical College (FJMC), Lahore, for neither appearing in the entrance test, nor qualifying SAT-II exam. She was nominated among the other students by the EAD for admission, he said.
PMDC president Prof Dr Sibtul Hasnain dispelled the impression that the Council was giving any undue favour to the foreign students under PTAP. He said the PMDC in its last meeting held in December had relaxed the admission rules for Afghan students only on prime minister's directions.
PMDC Registrar Ahmad Nadeem Akbar said that being 'supreme body' the general council (of the PMDC) had the authority to relax the rules as it did in the case of Afghan students. He confirmed these students were considered for admission on prime minister's direction.
"We are ready to give more such relaxations if the prime minister directs us to do so", he said.
Test of best brains for PU vice chancellor slot
Country's best brains are all set to express themselves in a two-day contest beginning from Monday (today) for the selection of the vice-chancellor of country's highest seat of learning - the Punjab University.
The PU VC slot is falling vacant on Monday when the Punjab government's search committee headed by LUMS Pro-Chancellor Syed Babar Ali will start interviewing candidates including incumbent Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran.
At least 45 candidates had applied for the post, out of whom around a dozen candidates have been denied interview call letters because they failed to qualify the laid down criteria.
Apart from Prof Kamran, some of the top candidates for PU VCship are: Karakuram International University VC Prof Dr Najma Najam, National Textile University Rector Prof Dr Niaz Ahmad, PU Economics and Management Sciences faculty dean Prof Dr Ehsan Malik and former PU Registrar Prof Dr Naeem Khan. Many candidates are hopeful of winning the prized slot.
Prof Kamran believes that he had run the university well and promoted a culture of research. In the PU's Fact Book 2011, Prof Kamran has reported that the university produced 425 PhDs and sent 189 faculty members abroad for presentation of papers at international conferences during his four-year stint.
He also contained the Islami Jamiat Tulaba and did not allow them to act as freely as was the case during former VC Arshad Mahmood's eight-year tenure.
However, a clear divide among faculty members was witnessed during Prof Kamran's tenure. The right wing group remained at loggerheads with him as well as the pro-VC group - Teachers Front. Prof Kamran, however, claims that he treated all on merit.
Although Prof Kamran has an experience of running the Punjab University for four years, the aspirants believe the change is always good to break monotony as well as bring in fresh ideas to take the university to new heights.
It is yet to see whether new aspirants will be able to motivate the search committee as well as Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to go for a change or the incumbent VC will convince them for the continuation of policies to bear fruits for which he worked for four years.
On the second-last working day of his tenure, Prof Kamran had made a fiery speech at varsity's 120th convocation on Saturday and lambasted the rulers for not giving due importance to education.
Holding all rulers responsible for the present day crisis, he said the rulers were showing inhuman attitude towards the masses by not offering them educational opportunities.
He said the education alone could change the fate of individuals as well as the nations - but the present government was not even ready to allocate mere four per cent of the GDP for education.
While many present on the occasion believed that this was VC's last official speech, Prof Kamran said that one should not compromise on truth and call spade a spade.
Inviting Governor/Chancellor Sardar Latif Khosa to preside over the convocation, in the latest scenario when the governor is a mere rubber stamp in case of appointment of a vice-chancellor, was also taken as if Prof Kamran had lost the patronage of the chief minister, who is all in all to appoint the PU vice-chancellor. However, Prof Kamran claimed that the governor had been given invitation for the convocation some six months ago.
The Punjab government has, this time, acted wisely and started the process early to select a PU vice-chancellor. Previously, many universities like Government College University, Lahore College for Women University, University of Education and University of Sargodha faced severe administrative problems when regular VCs' tenures completed and senior most professors were appointed - who created a third body and created problems which are still being rectified by respective vice-chancellors. Officials of the Punjab higher education department say that Prof Kamran will continue to hold the charge of his office as acting-VC for a few days, when a regular VC will be appointed.
PU convocation VC takes exception to govt policies
Lahore: Punjab University Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran has lashed out at the Pakistani rulers who, he said, should be ashamed of not giving due importance to education.
He was delivering his address at the Punjab University's 120th convocation at Faisal Auditorium on Saturday. Governor Sardar Latif Khosa, who was invited to preside over the convocation, did not turn up. The varsity management waited for him for about an hour and then started convocation proceedings.
The PU VC lamented that Pakistan had gone down to 186th rank among world nations in terms of education indicators. Stating that even African countries were allocating more and more percentage of their GDPs on education, the VC asked, "What heaven will fall, if the rulers will allocate mere four per cent of GDP – already committed by them – on education."
He said the parents sold their land and other valuables for the sake of education of their children but those ruling the country remained indifferent to the plight of millions of children having no opportunity of going to schools.
He regretted that a large number of areas particularly remote ones neither had schools nor teachers. "Massive talent in rural areas is perishing without expressing itself due to poverty and unavailability of education and other social services," he said.
Without education, he said, a human being was blind, deaf and a burden on this earth.
Prof Kamran urged the rulers that they should stop speaking against each other and ensure bringing Pakistan's money back in the country, which should be spent on education.
The PU VC lauded the graduates for earning degrees as well as distinctions in their academic careers. He hoped that they would serve the nation and become instrumental in bringing it out of the crisis.
Earlier, VC Prof Kamran gave away degrees to 129 PhDs, 261 MPhils, 377 master's graduates and 219 undergraduates besides
distributing medals and cash prizes among 60 undergraduates and 79 master's students.
Controller of Examinations Prof Dr Liaqat Ali presented the progress report of the department.
High court moved against PU VC
Lahore: A candidate for the slot of the vice-chancellor of Punjab University filed a petition in the Lahore High Court on Saturday pleading not to allow incumbent VC Mujahid Kamran to hold the office after the expiry of his tenure on Jan 2.
Prof Mugheesuddin Sheikh in his petition said Prof Kamran stood retired a year ago while his four-year tenure as VC was going to expire on Jan 2. The Punjab government has already advertised the post and over two dozen candidates, including Prof Kamran, have applied against it.
"As the Punjab education department has yet to nominate the interim replacement of Prof Kamran, his continuation on the post after Jan 2 may jeopardize the fairness of the new selection as he himself is a candidate," Prof Sheikh said.
Prof Sheikh who of late retired as dean of PU social sciences further contended that a senior most professor of the PU should be appointed as interim VC till the appointment of a regular vice-chancellor. Dawn
GCU turns 148 years old
Lahore: One of the prestigious institutions of Pakistan, Government College University (GCU), completed its 148 successful years of educational services on Sunday.
GCU was established on January 1, 1864, at the Haveli of Dhian Singh in the old walled city. It continued providing its services in the Haveli for 13 years and in 1877 the current gothic-style majestic building of the GCU was completed, situated on 3,700 square feet in the north of Soldiers Garden (Gol Bagh) costing Rs 320,000 at the time. Dr GW Lietner was the first principal of the GCU.
At that time, only one university, Calcutta University, was providing higher education in the subcontinent, therefore, it was decided that the GCU would be affiliated with it. After the establishment of Punjab University in 1882, GCU changed affiliations.
GCU was awarded autonomy in financial and administrative affairs in 1889 and got degree-awarding status in 1997. After strenuous efforts in 2002, the government decided to give the status of university to the institution. From the first principal, Dr GW Lietner, to the second vice chancellor, Prof Dr Muhammad Khaleequr Rahman, as many as 27 heads have served the great institution.
Talking to media, current VC Prof Dr Muhammad Khaleequr Rahman said that the academic journey that started in 1864 with just nine students and three teachers produced hundreds of literary figures, politicians, two Nobel Laureates, five prime ministers, jurists, sportsmen and scientists.
He said the college was established on the pattern of Cambridge and Oxford. The VC added that the historical records showed that scholarships were given to students from the very start of the educational institution, the academic fee being Rs 2 during the first year.
He proudly said that Poet of the East Allama Muhammad Iqbal, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, NM Rashid, Patras Bukhari, Ashfaq Ahmad, Qudsia Bano, Pakistani Nobel Laureate Prof Dr Abdus Salam, Chief Justice MR Kyani, Chief Justice Naseem Hassan Shah, Justice (r) Javed Iqbal, Justice (r) Khalilur Rahman Ramday, Justice (r) Khawja Muhammad Sharif and Lahore High Court Chief Justice Shiekh Azamt Saeed are all former students of GCU. He further said that the university also produced five prime ministers; Feroz Khan Noon, Yousaf Raza Gilani, Nawaz Sharif, Zafarullah Khan Jamali and Moeen Qureshi, in addition to hundreds of political leaders, including Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Hanif Ramay and former governor Salmaan Taseer. Tennis star Aisamul Haq, cricketers Amir Sohail, Ramiz Raja, Inzamamul Haq and Salim Malik are also Old Ravains, he said.
"If you come to performing arts, noted Indian actor Dev Anand, Rafi Peer, Syed Imtiaz Ali Taj, Shafqat Amanat Ali, Ali Zafar, Hadiqa Kyani and Jawad Ahmad also studied at GCU," he said.
In his message on the occasion of GCU's birthday, noted nuclear scientist and Old Ravians Union President Dr Samar Mubarkmand said that the biggest contribution of GCU in the history of Pakistan was that out of 140 experts who carried out nuclear explosions in 1998, as many as 60 were Old Ravians. Daily times
Lahore: The Punjab Educational Endowment Fund (PEEF) has granted scholarships worth Rs1.5 billion to some 30,000 students studying from matriculation to masters' level since its establishment in 2009. This year alone the foundation has issued 12,500 scholarships worth Rs770 million.
The PEEF was established with an endowment fund of Rs2 billion and will be boasting of a large endowment fund base of Rs8 billion by the end of this financial year.
The Fund is working towards creating a pool of talented Pakistani youth amongst the less privileged sections of society to build a critical mass of the human capital in the country.
At PEEF, no brilliant student is required to apply for the scholarship but the Fund's team itself locates brilliant students not within Punjab but also in other provinces, including Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir and Islamabad. Students belonging to other provinces get scholarships from the five per cent quota allocated for them. Similarly, the Fund has also allocated a quota for minorities, Grade 1-4 employees' children, orphans and disable children.
The PEEF is offering scholarships to students in 19 public sector universities as well as in some private sector universities, including LUMS, NUST, FAST and GIKI.
It asks respective universities' managements to identify and select students that qualify Fund's criteria. In private universities, the scholarships are given to students partly.
In case of LUMS, for example, the PEEF and the varsity are paying 50 per cent each to offer cent per cent scholarship to the selected students.
The PEEF is re-investing 10 per cent of the income earned through profit to ensure that money devaluation should not affect its functioning.
Image-building in institutions
Lahore: Public sector institutions are more prone to publicity and the so-called "image-building" instead of providing relief to people.
The Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, Lahore, is one such example that it, instead of reacting and rectifying to problems identified in the media, quickly issues a clarification without even considering the news contents and those mentioned in the clarification.
The board's spokesman on Friday issued a clarification on a news item published in this newspaper titled "BISE extends date, refuses fee relief". The news had identified a problem that candidates and their parents had to face hardships on Dec 29 as the board's designated banks refused to entertain students by accepting single fee for the matriculation annual examination for 2012.
The last date for submitting admission forms of private candidates with single fee for matriculation annual examination had expired on Dec 28, but board chairman Dr Allah Bakhsh Malik had announced extension in date till January 3.
He had allowed extension in date for submission of admission forms with single fee considering candidates' hardships in getting their forms attested due to winter holidays in the education department. However, the board's designated banks refused to entertain students on Dec 29 and they did so on Friday morning as well.
The news also identified another problem that candidates were facing problems in submitting admission forms in board offices when they did not get their forms downloaded or photocopied on legal size paper.
However, the clarification says everything about board management's initiatives but the issues identified in the news item.
The board spokesman even ignored board's controller of examination's statement mentioned in the news item.
Faisalabad: Huda Zahid topped in the world in Chemistry in the Cambridge O Level Examinations of May/June 2011. She also clinched top position in Pakistan Studies.
Huda is daughter of Professor Hina Ayesha, head of Pediatrics Department, DHQ Hospital, and Dr Zahid Nagra, head of Plastic Surgery Department, Allied Hospital, Faisalabad.
She is the student of Beacon House School System, Faisalabad Chapter. Dawn