'260 colleges in Sindh to get computer labs'
Karachi, July 04: Various educationists, computer science teachers and government representatives gathered at a seminar held at the Sindh Madressatul Islam University on Friday to discuss the revival of information technology in educational institutions in Sindh.
Sana Memon, a computer science lecturer at the Govt Degree College, Qasimabad, Hyderabad, suggested some strategic plans to improve the standard of IT education such as holding regular competitions, organising study tours, seminars and short courses through which both the teachers and students would benefit.
"Also it would be good to supply the schools and colleges in the rural areas cheap computers so that they don't feel lost when taking computer science as a higher studies subject," she added.
Saleem Soomro, another computer science lecturer at the Govt Degree Boys' College, Sukkur, pointed out that if the educational institutions have computers, they are old machines on which the new software doesn't even work. "So please update our IT labs while also hiring skilled staff who can make sure that the facilities are being put to good use. Also since computers run on electricity, please do something to insure uninterrupted power supply."
Muneeb Ahmed, an assistant professor at the Govt Degree College, Larkana, reminded that IT had already been made a compulsory subject back in 2002. "So please don't forget about it now after reviving it again in our institutions," he said.
He also complained that a Rs1,500 special allowance for IT teachers too had been stopped since 2009 and hoped that the education ministry would also consider sending IT lecturers abroad to pursue M.Phil and Ph.D.
Sikander Ali Chander, another IT teacher, said that programming was a separate subject and barely two per cent of students were even interested in learning programming. "Therefore, I request the curriculum designers to concentrate more on other aspects of IT such as web designing rather than programming."
Dr Shehla Memon from Sir Syed College, Karachi, complained that they had no technicians to look after the technical faults that developed in their computers at the college. "If something goes wrong, we, the teachers are held responsible for it," she said.
A schoolteacher from Mirpurkhas, Wasif Talpur, said that their class IX computer science textbook was so outdated that it had a chapter on floppy disks. "Who uses floppy disks these days? Please update our course books," he reasoned.
Meanwhile, senior IT educationist Dr Zubair Ahmed Shaikh said that the teachers should have an optimistic outlook and try and be smart while teaching the subject of IT in their classrooms. "You can still do plenty of teaching with outdated material for it is not so bad. If there is a chapter on floppy disks, you can still teach the concept of storage devices. So please don't make this an excuse to not teach at all. Then if you don't know how to teach programming, I suggest you don't teach computer science at all," he said to the teachers present at the seminar.
To the government representatives present there he said: "You can make 250,000 accounts for all these IT teachers so that they can communicate with each other and exchange ideas on Google. And it won't cost you a thing. The teachers can put up their resources on their own websites there if they want to. For schools, there is the Intel School Improvement Programme to look into. So the technology is there for the taking."
Later, Sindh Senior Minister for Education and Literacy Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq said that he had called all the computer science teachers to hear them out. "We will compile all your papers in a report to know your problems in teaching IT so thank you for sharing your difficulties with us here. We have decided to make IT compulsory from class IX at least. But if the experts believe doing it from the nursery level would be better, I have no problems with that, too.
"Right now we have computer labs in some 30 colleges across Sindh but I am directing the education department to open well-equipped computer labs in 260 colleges across the province. We are also going to establish five digital libraries at the divisional headquarters of colleges. It is going to be a pilot project to be utilised by other colleges as well. The Rs1,500 allowance for IT teachers that was stopped in 2009, will be revived also. Only it will now be Rs2,000."
He said that the government would also set up interactive smart boards in high schools in every district headquarter as soon as the schools open in September. "We will call this the Benazir Interactive Classroom.
"Other than this we are also going to start a scheme to give brand new laptops to all IT teachers in Sindh. Upgrading the computers, updating their software, maintenance and replacement of these laptops after every three or four years will also be taken care of by the government," he said, adding that the Sindh government would pay for the scholarships of five IT and PhD students as well as 50 other students from the endowment fund.
Fifty IT teachers would also be provided training at Sindh Madressatul Islam University, he added.
"But all these announcements and directives of mine are subject to the chief minister's approval due to the financial implications involved," he said.
Education Secretary Siddique Memon said that IT was really important if one wanted to move ahead in the world. Therefore computer science was being introduced in the schools as a full subject. "For this we are negotiating with Microsoft to make its certification to be awarded in all schools as an annual development programme scheme. There are six Pakistanis working in Silicon Valley with whom we are also in touch. One of them will be designing the IT course on CD to be distributed to our children for free. Also we are working on bringing in IT servers that will make information accessible from school labs as well home."
Director-General (Colleges) Nasir Ansar and Sindh Madresatul Islam University's Vice Chancellor Dr Mohammad Ali Shaikh also spoke on the occasion. The news
Federal Urdu university 'suffers' in absence of full-time VC
Karachi: Academic and administrative activities at the Federal Urdu University for Arts, Science and Technology (Fuuast) have been suffering for more than four months because of the absence of a full-time vice chancellor, sources said.
The process initiated for the appointment of a vice chancellor has not been completed yet as the university is awaiting an approval from the president, the chancellor of the university, to hold a senate meeting of the university, the sources said.
"There has been no response to the letter sent to the chancellor more than 20 days ago. We need his permission to hold a meeting of the university senate on the subject. Perhaps, the chancellor is too busy with his political engagements these days that he does not have time for educational matters," an official of the Urdu university said.
The undue delay in the appointment of vice chancellor has given rise to the speculations on the campus that efforts are being made to include another name in the list of candidates finalised by a search committee.
A number of teachers at the university expressed concern over the delay in the appointment of a full-time vice chancellor.
They said that prevailing uncertainty over the most important university post was damaging, both academically and administratively for the university.
"I believe this is because of the flawed university ordinance that has a very complicated procedure for the appointment of a vice chancellor and has no provision for an acting vice chancellor when one resigns from his post," said Prof Dr Tauseef Ahmed Khan, chairperson of the mass communication department of the Urdu university.
The university, he pointed out, had a history of delayed appointments of vice chancellors. In this regard, he recalled the time after the exit of former VCs Prof Dr Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui and Prof Dr Iqbal Mohsin and the university had to be run by an administrator and later by a dean of the faculty of science for more than a year.
To a question whether another name could be included in the list already finalised by the search committee, he said, "It is not legally possible, though the entire selection process can be conducted again on the directives of the president or if the senate decides to do so."
Although teachers appreciated Dr Qaiser's efficiency in performing dual jobs as being the head of Karachi University and the Urdu university at the same time, they said that it was beyond his capacity to do justice to both jobs and the institution needed a full-time vice chancellor.
It needs to be recalled that the post for a full-time vice chancellor at the university fell vacant when Dr Mohammad Qaiser joined Karachi University as its vice chancellor in February.
A directive from the chancellor, however, allowed him to remain the head of the federal Urdu university till the process for the selection of a new vice chancellor for the university was completed.
Under his instructions, a selection process was initiated that involved inviting applicants through newspaper advertisements and their interviews, which were conducted by the search committee formulated under the university ordinance.
The search committee recommended four names for the post - Dr Syed Altaf Hussain (rector of the Dadabhoy Institute of Higher Education), Dr Moinuddin Ahmed (foreign faculty member at the Urdu university), Dr Shahid Mehboob Rana (former vice chancellor of the Government College University, Faisalabad) and Dr Zafar Iqbal (dean of arts faculty of Karachi University).
The names of Prof Dr Qamarul Haq, Urdu university registrar and Prof Dr Abuzar Wajidi, director of the KU evening programme, reportedly carried equal weight and it was decided that both the names would not be included in the list.
Explaining the procedure for a vice chancellor's appointment under the university ordinance, a senior teacher said that the names of four or five individuals selected by the search committee were forwarded to the university senate which held its meeting after getting the go-ahead from the chancellor.
The senate, he said, dropped one or two names from the list and forwarded only three names to the chancellor who appointed one of the candidates as the vice chancellor.
Upon contact, Prof Dr Qamrul Haq denied that educational and administrative activities were being affected in the absence of a permanent vice chancellor while admitting that "there is a difference when an academic institution has a full-time head."
"Dr Qaiser is the vice chancellor of the Urdu university, but he has also taken the charge of KU vice chancellor. I remain in constant contact with Dr Qaiser the whole day to carry out administrative work," he said.
On the senate's authority, he differed from Prof Dr Tauseef Ahmed Khan's opinion and said the senate had an authority to include another name in the list of candidates, though the chances of that decision were slim.
Giving his opinion, Dr Qaiser said that he was overburdened and wanted that the process of the selection was completed as soon as possible.
"Yes, I am very much concerned and keeping my fingers crossed for the process to be completed soon."
Individuals who have so far headed the Urdu university since its establishment in 2002 included: Prof Dr Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui, Prof Dr Zafar Iqbal, Mr Aftab Ahmed, Prof Dr Iqbal Mohsin, Prof Dr Syed Kamaluddin and Prof Dr Mohammad Qaiser.
LUMHS student dies of 'mysterious' ailment
Hyderabad: A second year student of Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences died in a private hospital in Karachi where she had been moved because of delay in the diagnosis of her ailment.
Doctors treating her and her blood reports proved no clue to the cause of the student's death.
Rida Fatima of Tando Mohammad Khan who lived in Zaibun Nisa Hostel was taken to Jamshoro Hospital on Tuesday by her sister Dr Nahal and a house officer on complaint of an excruciating finger pain.
Dr Shamshad who was treating Rida said that the girl couldn't say anything about the reason of her pain or it was bitten by a snake, an insect or chameleon.
Initially, doctors treated her with a ringlet drip and some anti-allergy injection in the casualty ward. But her sister was frustrated by the lack of progress and she took her to some private hospital.
Doctors there considered it to be a case of snake bite and since such cases are treated in government hospitals, Rida was again taken to the university's City branch. But her admission to the medical unit-II of Dr Almani and and the process anti-snake venom (ASV) treatment were delayed by up to seven hours.
Professor of Medicine Dr Bikha Ram shifted the girl to another medical unit Wednesday and administered 10 doses of ASV - the maximum quantity of dosage to be used in such cases.
"I was not satisfied with her blood test reports even after administering frozen plasma. She was in her senses but reports were extremely disturbing," Prof Bikha Ram said.
Rida was shifted to the National Institute of Blood Diseases (NIBD) in Karachi after consultations with other LUMHS professors and Vice-Chancellor Prof Mashhoor Alam Shah. The NIBD is headed by Dr Tahir Shamsi, a noted haematologist.
Dr Shamsi said the patient was taken to the NIBD on Thursday in a critical condition. The patient was bleeding profusely and her haemoglobin level was very low which suggested a condition of blood clotting failure. Saturation of oxygen in blood was 40 per cent indicating bleeding in lungs. She was put on a ventilator but died at 4.30am on Friday even though three ASV doses and platelets had been administered to her, he said.
Dr Shamsi said the patient might have been bitten by Russell viper, the most dangerous specie as was claimed by her sister who also told the doctor that the girl had no history of blood disorder.
WHO guidelines recommend treatment of snake bite within two hours as time is the most important factor in such cases.
The girl's father, Shamsuddin Memon said he had no complaint against anyone but she did speak of having killed a snake in her room.
However, Dr Bikha Ram contended that there was no role of time factor. Either she had some blood disorder or she died of because of having been by a very dangerous reptile, like Lundi.
Dr Almani termed it an unusual case. A spokesman of the LUMHS said that the university remained closed on Friday as a mark of mourning. Dawn