Child-friendly Classrooms | SU teachers protest

'Classrooms need to be child-friendly'
Karachi, July 04: The data collected by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of Child (SPARC) indicates that 35,000 students left high school in Pakistan in 2009 because of the fear of corporal punishment.

However, Sadia Baloch, who heads the child rights desk at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, believes that the figures must be higher. "These are only the reported cases, and cases here are barely reported."

Though a mechanism for reporting cases of violence against children exists, there are serious loopholes. For instance, a case can only be reported at the Federal Ombudsman's office by either filling an online form, or obtaining the form in person from the office.

"The Ombudsman's office exists in provincial capitals. The Karachi office entertains complaints from all over Sindh," Baloch says.

Access to the forms is therefore an issue. "People in villages do not have Internet connections. It is impractical for them to travel all the way to the provincial capital and register a complaint." The forms, she maintains, should be available at all police stations.

Confusion in the definition
The law does not define the term corporal punishment. The general impression of corporal punishment is physical beating but activists and educationists have their own definitions.

Baloch maintains it constitutes any punishment given by an institution, "in this case a school".

Cassandra Fernandes, a researcher at the Institute of Educational Development-Aga Khan University (IED-AKU), calls it "anything that incorporates fear in children; name-calling, pinching, staring".

The Pakistan Penal Code in Article 89 states, "Nothing which is done in good faith for the benefit of a person under twelve years of age", by "consent, either expressed or implied, of the guardian or other person having lawful charge of that person, is an offence", provided it does not cause death or voluntary hurt.

Furthermore, the act of "voluntary hurt" is only committed if six conditions are met. Article 337a of the Pakistan Penal Code discusses them as injury caused "without exposing the bone of victim, exposing the bone without causing fracture, fracturing the bone without dislocating it, fracturing the bone and dislocating it, fracturing the skull so that the bone touches the brain membrane and fracture of the skull so that the wound ruptures the brain membrane".

"Basically one cannot register an FIR, unless blood oozes out or a bone is fractured. A bruise for example, will be registered in a 'roznamcha' or daily diary, meaning it is not a cognisable offence," Baloch explains.

Why do parents/teachers beat up children?
A research conducted by IED-AKU during a survey of 20 public and private schools in Karachi and Larkana reveals that parents and teachers beat up children because this is the only way of disciplining they know of. Some argue that it is permissible in Islam.

The study, titled "Creating Child-Friendly Classrooms; Positive Disciplining Strategies", also finds that the most common forms of corporal punishment are; making students sit or stand in an uncomfortable position like making them a 'Murgha', boxing the ears, taking off shirts (for boys) and either caning their backs or making them lie down while the teacher kicks them.

The reason cited was the need for maintaining the classroom power structure in schools. "In our classrooms the teacher is all-powerful," says Cassandra Fernandes, one of the researchers who conducted the study.

Alternatives to corporal punishment
"The key to avoid misbehaviour by children is to make classrooms child-friendly. Class time must be utilised constructively. Children must not get idle time, for this is when they make mischief," says Fernandes.

Following the study, a tool-kit was prepared to provide teachers with alternatives. This includes comprehensive tips for child-friendly classrooms. Some of the suggestions include setting up a complaint box for children.

It even includes the map of a child-friendly classroom, which comprises a class library with reading and math activity areas, apart from desks and chairs.

In a letter to Barack Obama, Alice Miller, author of Banished Knowledge, a book on the psychological implications of corporal punishment on children, wrote, "Spanking creates fear. In a state of fear children's attention is totally absorbed by the strategy of surviving. As they (children) learn from imitation they learn from us violence and hypocrisy. They will obey at first but in the long run they may choose to lie to avoid the next punishment." The news

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Teachers continue protest
Hyderabad: The Sindh University Teachers Association (SUTA) and the Sindh University Employees Welfare Association (Sewa) continued their protest on the fourth consecutive day on Monday against rejoining of Vice-Chancellor Dr Nazir Mughal.

Activists of the two organisations took out a procession from Zero Point to the administration block of the university where they staged a sit-in for a couple of hours.

Addressing the protesters, SUTA president Dr Azhar Ali Shah and Sewa president Ghulam Nabi Bhalai said Dr Mughal was misguiding the governor's secretariat and the media regarding his support among teachers and employees.

Meanwhile, according to a university spokesman, semester examinations were held in the departments of pharmacy, fresh water biology and fisheries and zoology, Institute of Commerce, Institute of Information and Communication Technology and Sindh Development Study Centre.

He denied that students were expelled from hostels and explained that since vacations were announced on June 29, only those students were staying in hostels who had to appear in semester and the remaining had left for homes.

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SU VC won't succumb to pressure: Mazhar
Hyderabad: Sindh Education Minister Pir Mazharul Haq has said that "some elements in the shape of teachers association" are targeting the University of Sindh under a conspiracy to destroy education in the province.

Referring to a campaign for removal of Vice-Chancellor Dr Nazir A. Mughal, the minister said neither he nor the VC would succumb to pressure by the agitating teachers.

"We have faced such a situation successfully in the past and will do so now," he said while speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a convocation of the Institute of Modern Science and Arts (IMSA) at a hotel on Monday.

The People's Party, other political parties and nationalists were against such "anti-education activities", the minister added.

He regretted that on Sunday "so-called leaders of the teachers association" used abusive language against a woman teacher.

About talks with the teachers or any action against them, he said the Sindh government would neither talk to them nor take any action against the agitators.

"Only the vice chancellor has powers to take a decision. We cannot interfere in the affairs of an independent institution."

Pir Mazhar said 19,000 school teachers would be appointed in Sindh and the process would begin by recruitment of 8,000 teachers soon. As many as 4,000 dysfunctional schools would be reopened after teachers' appointment, he added.

Earlier, in his address to the convocation the minister said the education department was being expanded to ensure efficient service delivery and upgrade standard of education. Three new components Sindh education development authority, directorate general of monitoring and evaluation and directorate general of human resources would be created in the department, he said.

He called upon graduates to join awareness campaign launched by the education ministry to increase enrolment in schools.

The 18th Amendment had made education compulsory for every five-year-old, Pir Mazhar said, adding that the Sindh Assembly was going to take up legislation to implement the constitutional requirement.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Nazir Mughal, the vice chancellor, accused the Sindh University Teachers Association of damaging education and announced establishment of a selection board for promotion of teachers, officers and employees of the university in a week. Dawn

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Varsity faces financial crisis
Khairpur: Vice-Chancellor of Shah Abdul Latif University (SALU) Prof Dr Nilofer Shaikh has informed the syndicate that the university is facing a financial crisis because of non-release of grant for the fourth quarter of the year by the Higher Education Commission.

The university's budget for 2012-13 was presented at a meeting of the syndicate. The Rs1,162.425 million budget has a deficit of Rs51.245 million.

The syndicate was also informed that the HEC had approved a grant of Rs327.127 million for 2012-13, which was not adequate and the commission had been requested to increase it by 53 per cent over the previous grant as was done in the case of other universities.

The budget was recommended for approval to the university senate. The news

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SSC part-II mark sheets
Karachi: The Board of Secondary Education Karachi announced on Monday that mark sheets of the SSC part-II (Class X) of the general group (regular) annual examinations 2012 would be ready for collection on July 4.

The heads of recognised secondary schools have been asked to send their representatives with an authority letter to collect the mark sheets. ppi

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19,000 teachers to be appointed: CM Qaim Ali Shah
Khairpur: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah said on Sunday that the government will soon appoint 19,000 teachers on merit basis.

Addressing large public gatherings in Tharri Merwah and Faiz Ganj talukas of Khairpur after inaugurating various development schemes, he said the provincial government has created employment opportunities for more than 90,000 youths.

Shah said over one hundred thousand unemployed youths have been trained through BBSYDP, out of which 30,000 to 35,000 people have got jobs in various government departments and private sector.

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YLC 2012 kicks off with 300 in attendance
Karachi: A total of 300 girls and boys from 40 cities and villages, each of them brimming with energy, attended the inauguration of the 11th Young Leaders Conference (YLC) by the School of Leadership (SoL) here on Sunday.

The theme of this year's conference is "dream the unseen, believe the unknown, achieve the impossible." The event attracted students from all walks of life. "There are sons of farmers, cobblers and labourers joining us this time," said Shireen Naqvi, Director SoL.

The six-day conference will be divided into five sessions: environment, economics, inter-culture, society and politics. Each session will be mentored by specialists from their field.

Activities will range from yoga, to eating daal-roti to walking with tied feet: the idea behind these activities being to create empathy. "The child with two normal feet should know what it is like to be physically challenged."

While selecting room-mates, Naqvi made sure each group had a child from each social stratum, so that the participants could learn to celebrate their differences. "There are times when a child from a high-end school comes to me with complaints of a student from a village who does not know how to use the toilet. My response would be: 'since you know how to use one, teach him too'."

For Umair Jaliawala, a trainer at SoL, this year's conference is particularly significant because "the YLC enters its next decade". For him his most memorable moment in the journey was 2003. "I received a phone call from an interested participant who told me that had walked for two hours to find a phone booth to call me. He belonged to a small village."

More than 75 percent of the participants received scholarships, but as a rule no one was given a free entry. Children were asked to pay whatever they could to inculcate a respect of labour in the participants.

Students as far as Gilgit-Baltistan attended the conference. For Sunil Parwani, who hails from Mithi, this was an opportunity to interact with youth from all over the country. "Karachi is a wonderful place, it's huge."

Jan Ali, a visually-impaired computer-whiz, found out about the conference from the internet. "I tried to apply this year because I liked the theme."

Students are divided in 20 groups; each consists of 15 participants, and is headed by a young facilitator, who has to undergo tedious training and is required to be an YLC graduate.

"We basically counsel them, show them around and lend them a friendly ear throughout the six days of the conference. It's kind of like raising a family for a few days," said one young facilitator with a laugh.

During the inauguration ceremony Minister of Youth Affairs Faisal Sabzwari said, "The YLC has partnered with the department of youth affairs for the last three years, their efforts should be appreciated as it [the YLC] inculcates positive energy through mentoring."

He appreciated how civil society today invests in its youth. "In our days we roamed around in the streets, and learnt from trial and error."

The minister, along with his secretary Shoaib Siddiqui, sat with young leaders and mentored them during a session. The news

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