Bannu Medical College poor facilities

Bannu Medical College
Peshawar, June 04: For three days recently, more than 70 male and female students of Bannu Medical College stayed in the provincial metropolis to stage protests and interact with whoever could help them in seeking resolution of their problems.

This was a desperate attempt to invite attention of the authorities to the sorry state of affairs at their college, which was established in 2006 by the then chief minister Akram Durrani as he tried to bring every conceivable project to his native Bannu. Four years later, it is still lacking in many respects.

The students were hoping that their protests in Peshawar and better media coverage would prompt the provincial government to take measures to upgrade facilities at the college for meeting the standards required for its recognition by the Pakistan Medical and Dental College (PMDC).

Their protests made an impact as Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti convened a high-level meeting on June 2 to discuss the needs of Bannu Medical College. If properly implemented, some of the decisions that were taken would help resolve the problems highlighted by the students. The Khalifa Gul Nawaz Teaching Hospital, named after a freedom-fighter, would be made fully operational by the end of the year, an endowment fund would be set up to offer incentives and hire the needed teaching staff and request would be made to the federal government and PMDC for provisionally recognizing the college.

The students, though, are sceptical as in the past also promises were made and forgotten following their earlier protests. However, they are determined to pursue the matter as the first batch at the college is now in the fourth year and non-recognition of Bannu Medical College by the PMDC would render them ineligible to appear in the MBBS examination.

The 500 students of the college had earlier organised demonstrations in Bannu and set up camps selling pakoras and sewing clothes as a mark of protest against the government's apathy to solution of their problems.

A group of students narrated their woes as they sat down with this writer while camping in Peshawar recently as part of their protest campaign. They had been on strike since May 13, refusing to take classes and instead agitating on the streets. Their major concern was non-recognition of their college by the PMDC due to its various deficiencies.

Initially, 50 students yearly were being admitted, then the number was raised to 100 without providing the requisuite facilities. The intake of students is now 153 and the college strength would rise to 653 later in the autumn when new admissions are given. This has led to overcrowding in the classes, laboratories and hostels, which in case of male students were set up in rented buildings and lack basic services. There are more than 200 female medical students belonging to places all over the province and they too are suffering due to the plethora of problems at the college.

The Khalifa Gul Nawaz Teaching Hospital is not yet fully functional. Work on its construction started in 2004 but only six out of the 11 planned blocks have been built until now. Shortage of teachers is a serious issue. Ninety sanctioned posts of the teaching faculty are still vacant. The PMDC in its last report following a visit by its designated inspection team noted that the college was being run with 20 percent of the required teaching staff only.

According to the students, the problems at Bannu Medical College kept piling from the tenure of its first principal, Dr Omar Ali Khan, who was followed by Dr Shafiullah and was recently replaced by Dr Khan Nawaz. The college principal was normally entrusted with four posts, making it difficult for him to concentrate on his job.

The Ittehad-e-Talaba, the united platform of the protesting students, highlighted many other problems concerning their inadequate library, the non-operational Self Learning Resource Centre, the poorly maintained laboratories, security concerns, etc.

The Bannu Medical College is the third biggest college in terms of students' strength after the Khyber Medical College, Peshawar and Ayub Medical College, Abbottabad. However, it is fifth in order of merit primarily due to its many inadequacies on account of the government's inability to meet its needs. The college could slip further in ranking if remedial measures weren't taken to resolve its many problems.

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No girls college in Katlang
Mardan: Imagine a higher secondary school with 1,700 students against its capacity of 1,200 and 120 to 130 of them crowding a class.

This is the state of affairs in the Government Girls Centennial Higher Secondary School in Katlang in Mardan district. The sad part of the situation is that it is the only school of its kind in Katlang, where no girls college exists despite having a population of more than 200,000.

Katlang is a rural area 20 kilometres north of Mardan city. It was declared a tehsil by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti during his visit to Katlang on March 6. Katlang has fertile agricultural land and is located in an area containing archaeological sites dating back to the Gandhara civilisation.

The higher secondary school for girls is in Katlang town, which is centrally located in an area containing more than 25 villages. Teaching staff at the school complain that it is overburdened due to absence of a similar institution or girls college in the area.

Principal of the school Mrs Naseem said that there were only 13 teachers in the school, meaning that the ratio was one teacher per 130 students. She lamented that the ratio of teacher per student was three times more than the educational policy of the government, which is one teacher for 40 students.

"We have requested several times verbally and in writing the high-ups of the Education Department for the provision of more teachers at our school but to no avail," she said. According to the principal, the school administration often refuses admission to students, as the school cannot accommodate more because of overcrowding. She said it was a routine that desperate parents from the surrounding villages visit the school to seek admission for their daughters.

"When we deny them admission, the parents lament that they will stop sending their daughters to school as there is no other educational institution run by the government for girls in the area. The parents tell us they cannot afford to educate their daughters in the expensive private schools," she explained.

Mrs Naseem remarked that the teachers ask four girls to share a single desk, as all classes are overcrowded. "There are about 120 to 130 students in a class. How can a single teacher concentrate while teaching so many students in a class?" she asked.

Saba, a Grade 9 student said that she aspired to continue her studies but feared that her dream of receiving higher education would not be fulfilled as there was not a single college for girls in the Katlang area and her parents could not afford to send her to the college in Mardan city.

"I know that many girls in my neighbourhood have given up their studies after passing the intermediate examination because of absence of a girls college in Katlang," she said. Another student of Grade 9, Lubna said her father was a peon in a high school and his salary was just Rs6,000 which was hardly enough for making both ends meet. "How can he bear expenses of my education?" she innocently asked.

Lubna appealed to the government to award scholarships for the needy girl students to enable them complete their education and become useful citizens. Shah-i-Sultan, father of a girl student, said that there were girls colleges in Mardan city but it was not possible for poor parents to bear the expenses of sending their daughters there for higher education.

"The government should set up a girls college in Katlang and also open another higher secondary school in our area to meet the demand for female education and save the future of the girls," he stressed. The news

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Agri varsity students for semester restoration
Faisalabad: More than 400 students of the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad (UAF), staged a protest demonstration on Thursday and blocked Jail and Kutchery roads for about five hours, demanding restoration of the summer semester and a solution to frequent power suspension.

Students of different departments gathered in front of the faculty of agriculture and marched towards the main gate.

The protesting students, carrying banners, chanted slogans against the university administration and blocked the main Jail Road by placing barriers, throwing traffic out of gear at the roundabout in front of the university entrance.

Later, the university administration locked the main gate reportedly to stop more students from joining the protest.

Student leader Waqar Tareen said the university administration had withdrawn the facility of summer semester that would land students in a difficult situation and they would not be able to improve their grades. He said university officials had been requested time and again to restore the facility, but to no avail.

He said scholars had also been facing problems owing to unscheduled loadshedding.

Some three days ago, the students had also protested in front of the office of the students' affairs director, but they were told that the issue would be resolved after the return of Vice-Chancellor Dr Iqrar Ahmad from France. The VC is on a two-week tour of France.

When the students refused to budge from their position without an assurance regarding acceptance of their demands, acting vice-chancellor Dr Ishfaq Ahmad called them for a dialogue.

A group of seven students -- Waqar Tareen, Ali Gujjar, Majid, Hasan Rasheed, Mian Haroon, Akram and Amjad Bhatti -- met the acting vice-chancellor who assured them that a notification for the summer semester would be issued on June 12 when Dr Iqrar returned to Pakistan.

Dr Ahmad was quoted as saying that the potable water issue would also be resolved soon.

Students claimed that the acting VC had also given an assurance that no midterm examinations of doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) would be held.

The students dispersed peacefully when they came to know that their demands had been accepted.

However, Waqar said they would be again on the road if the administration failed to issue a notification regarding their demands on June 12.

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PU results
Lahore: The PU on Thursday declared the results of MSc Seismology (morning programme), semester system, session 2006-08. Dawn

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PU COAD begins thesis display
Lahore: University of the Punjab (Old Campus) College of Art and Design (COAD) has inaugurated its five-day long thesis display of 38 Masters in Fine Arts students, a private TV channel reported on Thursday.

The fine arts students highlighted the social and environmental issues in their theses using the means of graphic designing, painting, sculpturing and textile techniques. The students said that they had depicted social issues in a very attractive manner, as the thesis held due importance for their carrier.

A large number of students participated in the display, which revealed the keen observation of the students on issues depicted in the thesis. The display will continue until June 5, the channel reported. Daily times

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College teachers to be promoted: minister
Lahore: Punjab Minister for Education Mujtaba Shuja ur Rehman has said promotion cases of college teachers are being processed speedily and eligible college teachers will be promoted to next grades by the end of June, 2010.

He said this at the oath-taking ceremony of office-bearers of the Punjab Professors and Lecturers Association (PPLA), Lahore and Bahawalpur divisions, at the Government Islamia College, Railway Road, here on Thursday.

The minister claimed the Punjab government was addressing college teachers' issues on priority basis, saying that no society could progress without ensuring due status to teachers.

He said the government also expected that the teachers would perform their duties with commitment.

Itehad Asataza President Nazim Hasnain Shah, PPLA Lahore Division President Prof Majid Wazir, Bahawalpur Division President Rao Inam ul Haq also spoke on the occasion and demanded unconditional regularisation of all contract lecturers.

The PPLA office-bearers on the occasion also passed a number of resolutions, demanding one-step upgrade on pattern of university teachers, elimination of contract policy, ending of biometric system for attendance at colleges, withdrawal of proposed idea regarding establishment of board of directors at colleges for autonomy and implementation on recommendations of the Pay and Public Commission. The news

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Students delegation meets CM
Lahore: A 15-member student delegation of Lahore Grammar School selected for the International Space Settlement Design competition at Johnson Space Centre, Texas, America, called on Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Thursday.

Senator Pervaiz Rashid, Provincial Education Minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman, MPAs Shahzadi Umerzadi Tiwana, Saba Sadiq, Secretary Higher Education, Chairman Taskforce Raja Anwar and Vice Chairman Punjab Educational Endowment Fund, Dr Amjad Saqib were also present.

The CM while talking to the delegation said that Pakistani students are talented and the nation has high expectations of them. He said the selection of Lahore Grammar School students for the International Space Settlement Design competition in America is a matter of pride for Pakistan and it is hoped that they will come up with good results and enhance the prestige of the country. The nation

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