Higher Education Commission Rs15bn allocation

HEC receives over Rs15bn
Islamabad, June 07: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) received a major setback on Saturday when the government could allocate only Rs15.762 billion against its demand of Rs30 billion for the development of public sector universities.

The government, under Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2010-2011, has committed Rs15.762 billion for the HEC against Rs22.5 billion it had earmarked last year.

Sources in the HEC said with this money the commission would not be in position to start even a single new development project in the coming year.

In the outgoing financial year, originally the government had committed Rs22.5 billion to the HEC under PSDP 2009-2010 which was revised to Rs18.5 billion, but as of today it has received only Rs11.5 billion, they said. With this major cut and regular delays in releases throughout the year the HEC remained under financial stress.

The HEC had shown 230 ongoing projects and 128 new projects for allocation under the PSDP 2009-2010, whereas the number has been reduced to 193 ongoing and only 11 new projects for PSDP 2010-2011.

The HEC needed more than Rs10 billion to support its ongoing Human Resource Development (HRD) project under which it has to provide scholarships to around 9,000 students. Around 4,000 students are in foreign universities on various types of scholarships--PhD, MS, MSc, Post Doc, short courses--while the rest are availing financial assistance to study in local universities.

In this way the HEC will be left with only Rs5.76 billion out of the allocated Rs15.762 under PSDP 2010-2011, putting it in a tight corner to take any worthwhile development activity in the coming year, said a top HEC official when asked to comment on the new budgetary allocations.

Moreover, the HEC has to face an additional impact of Rs2 billion after rupees's depreciation during preceding years. A number of HEC's financial commitments were made when one dollar was worth around Rs60, which over the last couple of years has shot up to over Rs85, thus, the commission will have to do lots of adjustments in its ongoing development projects, the official said.

"Our major focus will be to complete ongoing development projects which are in final stages, because with every passing day, cost of civil works is rising. There are several projects which have already crossed their time limit," the official said.The HEC had submitted development projects worth over Rs30 billion to the Planning Commission for allocations in the PSDP 2010-2011.

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Cut in HEC budget decried
Lahore: The massive cut of Rs7 billion in the allocation for the Higher Education Commission compared to the current fiscal budget is bound to devastate the infrastructural and academic development of the public-sector universities across the country.

The government has allocated Rs15.7 billion for the HEC compared to the current financial year allocation of Rs22.5 billion. The already funds-starved universities will be pushed in the financial mess leading to decay of ongoing physical development, lament vice chancellors of the public-sector universities in Lahore.

University of Education Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Munawwar Mirza said the major cut in development funds for the institute would immediately halt development. She said the varsities' vice chancellors and the HEC had proposed Rs30 billion funds to meet the existing expenditure as well as maintain further development.

"The higher education was given boost in the previous years but the latest allocation will ruin the physical development and pace of academic advancement," she said.

Prof Mirza said the government would neither be able to open new universities nor could it expand the base of students' enrolment (in universities). She said the universities, including the University of Education, had launched new academic programmes in anticipation that the infrastructure would be developed in a couple of years. Now, these would be closed and those announced for launching would never be materialised, she said.

She feared that the highly insufficient budget allocation might also affect the scholars doing their PhDs abroad and being funded by the HEC. "If the HEC would ask the respective universities to finance the PhD scholars abroad, the universities have no money. They are already cash-strapped," she said.

University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Muhammad Nawaz said the relatively young universities would be in financial straits as they had no resources available to generate funds at this point of time.He said the UVAS was a new university and needed massive funding to carry out its development projects leading to quality education in livestock, poultry and agriculture sectors. He said churning out competent graduates in these sectors was a must to continue growth on fast pace.

Prof Nawaz said the university was banking on the funding for its mega project on new campus in Pattoki, where heavy investment had already been made and dairy farm, dairy shed, sheep and goat sheds and other infrastructure had developed.

Now, he said, the university was expecting massive funding for the construction of lecture rooms, labs, library, hostels and other infrastructure to move students there for their hands-on training. "Unavailability of funds will halt this development and severely impact growth in the livestock sector. It showed 4.1 per cent growth this year," he added.

Prof Nawaz also said the university's financial position was not even strong enough to meet the impact of 50 per cent raise in basic pay of employees as well as 15 per cent increase in medical allowance.

Punjab University pro-vice-chancellor Prof Dr Jamil Anwar Chaudhry said the financial cut would bring the ongoing projects to a standstill as the varsity would be unable to purchase the latest equipment and run the existing equipment that required massive funding as recurring expenditure.

He said the Punjab government had already instructed that the varsities could neither increase fees nor could they run self-finance scheme programmes. He said the PU had estimated that it would be required to pay an additional Rs460 million under the head of salaries in case the government offered 15 per cent raise. "The 50 per cent increase in salaries will upset the financial capacity of the university," he said.

University of Engineering and Technology Vice-Chancellor Muhammad Akram, a retired lieutenant general, said the financial cut would cost universities a lot in the long run as the existing development projects would stop. In order to re-start development projects, he said, the universities would be requiring funds much more than the current estimates.

During the current financial year, he lamented that the university received only Rs40 million out of the Rs195 million allocation under the Public Sector Development Programme. He said construction was currently being carried out on its Kala Shah Kaku, Faisalabad and Rachna campuses. Dawn

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School admits student rusticated for getting married
Peshawar: While confirming that a Grade-7 student was rusticated for getting married despite being under-age, the management of the Peshawar Model School has promised to obey the court verdict if it ordered his readmission.

"The student was recently promoted to Grade-7. He is hardly 13 years of age. His early marriage will certainly affect other children, which is why he was rusticated from the school," said Ghayur Sethi, chief executive of the Peshawar Model School system. However, he said the matter was pending in court and its verdict would be followed in letter and spirit.

Sethi was of the opinion that the student, Ghairat Khan, had violated Child Marriage Restrained Act. The act has fixed 18 years for the marriage of a boy and 16 for a girl, a legal expert said.

The story hit headlines a few days back when the student moved court to get reinstated. Ghairat Khan said his father was dead and his mother was ailing. He said that he got married because of the poor health of his mother. He added that his father-in-law was his uncle and head of his family. He wanted him to marry one of his daughters in his lifetime. He stressed that he was 18 years of age, but as is common in schools his age was registered less than the actual.

Ghayur Sethi confirmed that father of the student was dead and his uncle was his guardian as per school record. However, he said that the reason of his marriage that his mother was ill could not be justified.

"If his mother is ill, they he should better arrange a maid for her instead of violating

the law and getting married at such a tender age," he argued. Legal counsel for the student, Isa Khan said that the court had fixed June 9 in the case. He opined no law in Pakistan permits expulsion of a student for getting married. The news

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Girls school without teachers for 20 years
Peshawar: The successive governments have failed to provide teachers to a government girls' primary school in Maira Urmar Miana area despite the fact that it was built in 1989-90

The school building spreading over two kanals of land, is in dilapidated condition with broken floor and fallen boundary walls. The owner of the land, who had given it free of cost to get a class-IV job at the school, has grown old but without a job.

The Maira Urmar Miana is located some 15 kilometers from the capital city while the school consists of two rooms, two toilets and a veranda.

A resident of the locality said that when the government started construction work on the school, the villagers were very happy that they would be able to admit their daughters to the school. But the education department shattered their dreams of seeing their daughters educated as it didn't bother to appoint teachers for the school in the last 20 years, he further said.

He said the locals continued efforts till 2001 to get the government to appoint teachers in the school but to no avail.

Luckily, an NGO, Bonded Labour Liberation Front (BLLF), commenced coeducation in the school giving admission to child labourers working in the nearby brick kilns. However, the BLLF wound up its programme in 2008.

The parents got worried about their children's future because neither there was any one to teach the students nor any school in the close vicinity to admit their children.

Muqadar Shah, a young graduate residing in the village, proved far better for the children then the government as he started teaching the students voluntarily after BLLF ended the project.

Muqadar Shah said that he and his two other friends prevented the students from becoming child labourers. Fortunately, Unicef started paying Muqadar Shah and his friends in April 2008.

"The Unicef paid me Rs6,000 per month and I was appointed as headmaster of the school", he said. It also paid to his another colleagues teaching in the school, he further said.

However, the Unicef too stopped funding the school in December 2009, he said.

Mr Shah, who has also done Primary Teacher Course (PTC), said that once again responsibility of around 300 students fell on his shoulders. "Since December last, I and my two other colleagues are running the school without the support of the NGOs and government", he said.

When asked how they fulfilled their financial needs, he said they had started charging Rs50 from each student. "Though all the students are poor but the orphans are exempted from monthly fee", he said.

"I am happy with the children. I also do tuitions in the evening to the children of rich families and earning sufficient money", Mr Shah said.

He said he was regularly paying visits to the brick kilns to convince the parents to send their children to his school. "All my students do work with their parents in the brick kilns in the evening", he said.

When asked about the facilities like water, electricity and fans in the school, he said they had arranged all the facilities on self-help basis. One of the villagers has installed a cable providing electricity to the school from his home, he said. Dawn

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