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Higher education in Pakistan | Kidnapped students mystery

Higher education
June 05: University education is one of the key factors for the economic growth of a state. Pakistan had only two universities at the time of independence but the figure rose to 44 along with 10 degree awarding institutions at the beginning of the 21st century. Out of those 44 universities, 31 belonged to the public sector which clearly manifested a lack of concern on the part of the successive governments as the nation needed a gigantic effort to build higher educational institutions.

The last regime, however, addressed the issue and by the end of 2008, there were 94 universities and 30 degree awarding institutions. The figures seem healthy and encouraging but a more important indicator than merely the number of universities is the total number of student enrolment in the country. During 2001-02, the total number of students attending universities was 276,000 which rose to 741,000 during 2007-08. Though apparently encouraging but this merely constitute only 4 percent of the total population.

Moreover, let us consider whether our higher education system is performing well. There are less than around 25 percent of the faculty members in our universities who hold doctoral degrees. That clearly means that we do not have qualified people who are imperative in order to build and smoothly run our institutions. The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has endeavoured a lot during last many years to improve the faculty qualifications by providing generous foreign and local scholarships for PhD candidates. Some of the people who had been funded during the last several years have completed their PhDs successfully and are working, while many are still in the process. The government has provided through HEC huge sums for foreign PhD studies but this policy cannot generate healthy results in nutshell.

Another issue of key importance is the selection of courses and establishing new departments. Our universities, in particular public sector, attempt to offer a wide range of programmes that has created a lot of similar programmes in different universities. Although this is not a bad policy altogether yet our university management system must consider building specialised departments in different universities, especially in pure and applied sciences.

The next and perhaps the most important factor related to the efficiency is governance. Today, university management has become an established discipline but unfortunately, it is not visible in our institutions.

The institutions, especially in the public sector, are lacking in efficiency and perform at a very low level in teaching and research. The sole reason is the old and outdated management style of running the affairs. The authorities must consider revamping the governance of the universities. Some good universities working in private sectors can also help other universities to improve their management for higher productivity.

By Tauseef Aized, The writer is a professor at the University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore and currently a research fellow at the Monash University, Australia. E-mail: (The Nation)

Your Comments
"i want to study in good university but some financial problem i can not attened any good university , so please give me chance of scolarship and give the admission in any good university.."
Name: Abbas Ali
City, Country: Lasbela, Pakistan

"Dear Abbas, there are a lot of scholarships advertisements of local & foreign universities in newspapers as well as on the website of HEC. No one is going to offer you a lolly pop of scholarship. go ahead and follow the criteria of these scholarships. Inshallah you will succeed. regards, "
Name: Muhammad ImranSiddique
City, Country: Fsd, Pakistan

"The author has shown his newbiehood in the business by relating economic growth with university education and remains unable to convince using Google stats related to Higher Education in Pakistan. He needs to know that number of universities and enrolled students is not an indicator of economic well being of the any nation. If it were so then why would people in countries with large number of universities and above 90% literacy would live in poverty? Last but not least the author contrary to his profession being a professor of UET Lahore criticizes the efficiency and governance issues in higher education institutions. If he cannot contribute and tell the remedy then who will do that - an army general ;)."
Name: Khalid
City, Country: USA

"All daily wages teacher need to come together under one roof and decide to launch a movement and promise to continue till all daily wages teachers and lecturers are made permanent regardless of length of experience, however their seniority shall be as per their experience as daily wages. This is doable now because of political government also PP is always having a soft corner towards teachers. Beaurocracy is a the hurdle for real. We all need to push them."
Name: Muhammad Awais
City, Country: Pakistan

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Kidnapped students mystery
The mystery around the kidnapped students of Razmak Cadet College continues to deepen. Media reports on Monday, based on information gathered from available sources, varied as much as from 20 to 500 students having been forcibly taken away.

No word came from the college administration meanwhile regarding the exact number of students, teachers and their family members who were abruptly told that the college had been closed, bundled into waiting minibuses and sent to Bannu without proper security. This was the height of neglect, considering the ongoing offensive against the Taliban who have carried out attacks in a number of districts around. What is more, their highly active chief Baitullah Mehsud has headquarters in the neighbouring South Waziristan.

The confusion has been worst confounded by conflicting reports about the exact number of the missing students, indicating a total lack of coordination between various government agencies. Soon after the incident the college Vice Principal said only 26 students and six teachers had gone missing. On Tuesday, the ISPR said 80 had been released while 15 were missing, while Brig Zahid Abdullah who led the rescue operation told reporters the same day that 124 cadets and eight teachers had been rescued. Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira has given the figure of 47 students and five teachers still unaccounted for. Coming as it does from the federal government, the information would be considered more reliable.

There are indications that the 50-odd students are in the custody of the Taliban and have presumably been shifted to an area in South Waziristan under Baitullah Mehsud's control. The helpless parents of the students have been driven from pillar to post to learn the whereabouts of their children. The kidnapping of children for political purposes is a highly callous act and is liable to be widely condemned. The Taliban would further turn public opinion against them if they failed to release the cadets urgently.

Meanwhile, one expects the government to launch a well-coordinated attempt to recover the cadets and their teachers. All conventional methods should be employed to get them released. A clear-cut message should be conveyed to the top Taliban leadership that any harm done to the students or their teachers would lead to the worst possible reprisals. The Nation

Kidnapped students freed
Miramshah/Bannu: Militants in South Waziristan freed unconditionally all the kidnapped students and teachers of the Razmak Cadet College after holding talks with a tribal jirga on Thursday.

The 45 students and two teachers were taken to the college after the militants turned them over to the jirga in Makeen. They were taken to Bannu by military helicopters where they met their relatives.

North Waziristan Political Agent Mutahir Zeb said the militants had released the hostages unconditionally to the 40-member jirga.

The jirga comprised elders of the Janikhel and Bakkakhel tribes in whose areas the kidnapping had taken place. It had gone to South Waziristan on Wednesday to hold talks with Taliban.

The administration had given a 24-hour deadline to the tribes to secure the release of the students and staff members.

Bannu Commissioner Sardar Abbas and Brig Zahid Abdullah told a media briefing in Bannu that the administration had constituted the jirga and launched a crackdown on the tribes under the territorial and collective responsibility sections of the Frontier Crime Regulation and sealed their property and businesses.

They said all hostages were unharmed.

They said a decision to end the crackdown against the tribes would be taken later.

On Tuesday, 81 students and teachers had been rescued by security forces after an exchange of fire with militants in the Garyom area of North Waziristan.

There were conflicting reports about the number of students and teaching staff kidnapped by Taliban in Bakkakhel area of Bannu Frontier Region while they were going home from Razmak on Monday.

AFP adds: "We have released them in the interest of peace in the region. We accepted the request of the tribal jirga," said Hakimullah Mehsud, a spokesman for Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan chief Baitullah Mehsud.

Security forces had earlier found eight abandoned vehicles, their drivers and students' luggage in a village in North Waziristan, officials said.

Local authorities had threatened a military raid to rescue the captives. Parents of the missing pupils demonstrated in Bannu and criticised the government's handling of the crisis.

An anguished parent said: "The government is responsible for this kidnapping. Why did they choose a bad time for travel?" Dawn

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Daily wage teachers doomed to spend vacation sans salary
Islamabad: Today (Friday) is the last working day in government schools and colleges, as two-month long summer vacations will start from June 8. There is nothing more exciting than vacation for the students. But the same is not true for teachers appointed on daily wages, as they would not be paid during vacation.

More than 500 teachers of 19 model colleges in the federal capital are not given any salary as they work on daily-wage basis. Despite the fact that they have been working for years and many of them have spent 10 to 17 years of their lives in these institutions yet their services have not been regularised by the Ministry of Education.

Ironically, in spite of possessing high qualifications and rendering years of services to the satisfaction of the institutions, their salaries range from Rs5,000 to Rs8,000 monthly with no any other facilities and allowances.

The lecturers were appointed in B-17 on daily wage basis in different model educational institutions of Islamabad.

The colleges working under the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE), Ministry of Education collect fee from the students in summer vacations still these teachers are not entitled to any salary.

Model colleges, which remain the preference of the parents for various reasons, including education standards, fees and overall atmosphere collect heavy amount from the students in terms of different funds which are utilised by the colleges and go to the pockets of the officials.

Though they were assured verbally and in written for regularization of their services on many occasions yet practically nothing has been done as yet.

Repeated meetings with the officials of the ministry including Minister of Education Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani, FDE Director General Atique-ur-Rehman and Director Model Colleges Mujahid Zameer brought no fruits for the poor teachers.

Even the ministry set aside the orders of Islamabad High Court, which on April 2, 2008 directed it "to consider the qualified teachers for regularization irrespective of their categorization-ad hoc, on daily wages or on contract basis taking into consideration their pervious length of services against regular posts at the earliest opportunity".

The judgement further stated "the lecturers have been rendering valuable teaching services on daily wages for a considerable period and unless some form of regularization is made they will lose interest and subsequently the student will suffer".

Recruitment was made to the posts of regular lecturers but these daily wagers were ignored every time. It's been learnt that the ministry has agreed to regularise the services of those who have been working for more than ten years but those who have worked 5, 8 and 9 years have no future as they have become over age and cannot apply afresh with other candidates.

Although the minister had categorically ordered the officials of the FDE either to pay the salaries to teachers or not to get funds from the students but no positive development has been made regarding this inhuman practice, which is clear discrimination causing demoralisation of the teaching staff. The Nation

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Candidates want written test centre at Rawalpindi
Rawalpindi: Candidates appearing in the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) Examination 2009 have complained that the provincial government has set up only one examination centre in Lahore.

A group of candidates said that the seven-day examination will start on Saturday (June 6). They regretted that the Punjab government has not set up an examination centre in Rawalpindi this time around.

Sources said that more than 14,000 candidates belonging to different parts of the province would appear in a weeklong written examination for various posts of BPS-17. Candidates have appealed to the concerned authorities to set up an examination centre in Rawalpindi as it would be difficult for them to make arrangements for their stay in Lahore for the whole week.

Muhammad Aziz, a candidate, said: "I cannot bear the expenses of staying in Lahore for seven days." He said that the chairman and members of the PPSC should review the decision regarding single examination centre.

Sidra Bibi, another candidate, said: "It is not possible for female candidates to stay in Lahore for the whole week without our family members."

Huma Hayat said: "I have made full preparation for the PPSC examination, but my family is not allowing me to go to Lahore."

PPSC Regional In-charge Syed Muzzafar Hussain, when contacted said: "The decision to this effect was taken by the PPSC chairman and members. Definitely, candidates would face a lot of problems because of the new policy. I cannot change the policy as the matter pertains to the high-ups."

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SC orders fresh probe into killing of three students
Islamabad: The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed dissatisfaction over the police report about the three students' murdered in a police encounter in Khairpur, Sindh, and ordered a fresh investigation into the incident.

A three-member bench of the apex court, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Raja Fayyaz Ahmad and Justice Chaudhry Ijaz Ahmad, was hearing a suo moto case regarding the murder of the three innocent students in a police encounter.

According to reports, three students, including Allah Dino, 14, Zameer, 17, and Gul Baig, 13, all belonging to the cast Jageerani and residents of the district Khairpur, were killed in a police encounter.

The court directed for conducting a fresh inquiry into the incident after transferring all the involved police officers so that they might not influence the investigation. The court further directed immediate arrest of the accused policemen as well.

During the course of proceedings, the chief justice regretted the release of the accused police officials and directed immediate arrest of all the involved police personnel. "Who had ordered the release of the said police personnel?" the chief justice enquired.

Appearing on notice, District Police Officer (DPO), Khairpur, told the court that the police personnel were released on an affidavit by the heirs of the murdered teenagers, saying that the said police personnel were not involved in the murder. He further informed the court that the police party had been sent to arrest dacoits in the area. He said the dacoits opened fire on the police after which the police retaliated.

He said the police report stated that the bullets found were of the sub machine gun (SMG) belonging to the dacoits which, he said, suggested that the students had been killed by the dacoits' fire. The court expressed astonishment that three innocent students were killed in the encounter while no policeman had received injuries. The News

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Girls' school blown up in Peshawar
Peshawar: Suspected Taliban blew up a girls' high school in Badabher Police precincts on Thursday, police said. A police official at the Badabher Police Station said that the suspects planted explosives at the school. He said the blast had severely damaged the building. A Bomb Disposal Squad official said that the militants had planted five bombs weighing around four to five kilogrammes each and fired a rocket at the building. Sulimankhel Nazim Akmal Khan said that the local Taliban and Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) militants could be behind the attack. He said the suspects had also blown up CD shops in the union council a few months ago. Daily Times

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