Summer holidays | HEC lower budget

Summer holidays: A blessing for students
Islamabad, June 12: Quite relieved indeed, after kids were given over a two-month summer vacation break : however, this does not mean, there will be no power outages too.

"The feeling of a long break is so good that we can't help playing even under the sun," a student with perspiration quite visible on his face, said. They are happy. They will no more be facing a dilemma of how to reach their academic institution and then how to go back home.

This dilemma becomes more agonising during summer: for transporters never allow them to get inside a bus; they have to hang by its doors or be contented with some space at its roof.

Needless to say from now on for over a couple of months, there will be no sorry scenes on roads of the federal capital and Rawalpindi. Sorry scenes because the rulers always have funds to import luxurious cars and enjoy a ride on limousines while on foreign visits, but they can't provide buses worth a few millions rupees to our future hopes i.e. our students.

"We feel ignored when we see reports in newspapers and on electronic media about the lavish lifestyle of our rulers, who never tired of talking about the poor and deprived segments of the society," said one of them, when asked for his comment why have they not been provided transport.

He heaved a sigh of relief, however, when inquired how he felt on the last day of their schooling. "I am so happy that we have some relaxing weeks. Though vacation assignment will be a daunting task indeed," he smilingly remarked.

Daily thousands of students commute between the two cities or travel within Islamabad or Rawalpindi. How do they travel worries many. Their photographs appear in newspapers and clips are run on televisions channels as well quite often, but this sorry state has failed to shake the conscience of those who matter and can be handy in resolving their transport problems. The only relief they get, comes from summer holidays.

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HEC writes to PM for reconsidering lower budget allocation
Islamabad: Reminding the prime minister of his commitment he made with the vice chancellors of the public sector universities last month, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has requested him to reconsider the allocation for education sector in the annual budget.

HEC Chairman Javaid H. Laghari has written a letter to Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani requesting him to reconsider allocation of budget to the education sector in line with the commitment he made with vice chancellors of the public sector universities last month.

According to the sources in HEC, the chairman expressed his grave concern over the minimal budget allocation for the education sector stating that any roll back would severely affect the growth that HEC has made over the last eight years. A number of parliamentarians have also strongly objected in their budgetary speeches to this cut. A total of Rs15.762 billion PSDP budget for 2010-11 has been proposed for the HEC, which is Rs7 billion less than the last year's approved budget of Rs22.5 billion.

According to the information, HEC had demanded 30 per cent increase in the current budget for the upcoming budget for the year 2010-2011, but it received a negative response. The development budget for the fiscal year 2009-2010 was Rs22.5 billion in which the cabinet cut down Rs4 billion leaving 18.5 billion with the HEC to continue its various projects.

Sources in the HEC said that currently there are over 9,000 students on various HEC scholarships and human resource development programmes, including foreign PhD scholarships in various stages of their progress. "It is estimated that Rs10 billion will be needed just to maintain their monthly stipend, tuition fees and research expenses," the sources added.

The chairman feared that a roll over of Rs7 billion unreleased budgetary allocation for 2009-10 will take HEC into default from day one of the new financial year, what to talk of supporting 193 ongoing and 11 new projects across 258 campuses in Pakistan. According to the letter, the phenomenal growth that HEC has seen since 2002 (growth of students from 276,274 to 803,507; growth of campuses from 116 to 258; growth of research publications from 815 to 4013; growth of PhD degrees from 1947 to 3280 in just last 8 years alone) will come to a grinding halt.

On the other hand, in India, the Ministry of Human Resource Development recently announced its intention to build 14 new comprehensive world-class universities. Federal funding for education in India in its five year plan has increased nine times high while in Pakistan it has been reduced to half of the requirements.

HEC Executive Director Dr Sohail Naqvi conceded that they are finding it difficult to run HEC in the current allocated budget and the chairman has written a letter to the PM in this regard. "The PM in presence of dozens of people had assured raise in the HEC budget a few days ago but the budget has been decreased," he said.

He feared enormous wastage of resources if the government fails to increase the current budget. "All our ongoing programmes and those who are yet to be stated would suffer badly," he said.

While replaying to a question regarding HEC's previous intention of rationalising fee structure in order to generate funds, he said that they could not run ongoing projects merely by rationalising fee structure. "If we totally depend on fee structure then we have to increase fee in universities for 5 times which would be against the HEC's motto of making higher education accessible to every one," he added. The news

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PAF cadet to join USAF Academy
Islamabad: Aviation Cadet Mahhad Nayyer of the Pakistan Air Force Academy Risalpur is one of the 19 international cadets selected worldwide to attend the US Air Force (USAF) Academy.

Mahhad received an appointment to the USAF Academy class of 2014 during a presentation ceremony held at the US embassy here. US Navy Vice Admiral Michael LeFever, the US defence representative to Pakistan, presented Aviation Cadet Nayyer with his appointment letter and congratulated him on his outstanding achievement.

Addressing the ceremony, Vice Adm LeFever said that Cadet Nayyer was one of only 19 international cadets worldwide selected to attend the USAF Academy. "This is a truly impressive accomplishment and a testament to the calibre of the type of military officers the Pakistan Air Force produces," he said.

Nayyer will become one of more than 4,000 students who will receive an accredited Bachelor of Science degree after an intensive four-year curriculum of study at the USAF Academy. app

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40 students to leave for China
Islamabad: A ceremony in connection with 2nd Confucius Institute Summer Camp, which will held at Beijing Language and Culture University, China, was held at Sports Gymnasium of the National University of Modern Languages (NUML) on Friday.

40 students of the institute are ready to leave for China to attend the camp.

The ceremony was jointly organised by the NUML Confucius Institute and Embassy of the People Republic of China. Mr Yang Linhai, Cultural Councillor of the Embassy of China was the chief guest on the occasion while Rector NUML Dr Aziz Ahmad Khan was the guest of honour.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Yang stressed the need of promoting cultural and language ties between Pakistan and China. He said the leadership of both the countries has focused on the student-to-student relationships. "For this purpose we are supporting Pakistani student delegations to visit China," he added.

Every year more than one hundred students visit China with the help of Confucius Institute at NUML, he further said.

Rector NUML, Dr Aziz Ahmad Khan asked the student to observe the Chinese culture and wisdom in depth during their visit, as it would be a life time opportunity for them.

He stressed, 'We as a nation should follow the economic path made by the china." He further said, "We would accommodate more and more students every year to learn Chinese language."

Later Mr Yang Linhai and Dr Aziz Ahmad Khan jointly declared the camp open by presenting the Confucius Institute flag and beating the drum three times.

Ms Rashida took oath from the delegates leaving for china to promise their integrity with Pakistan during their visit.

This summer camp will be held at Beijing Language and Culture University starting from this month. As many as 40 students of the NUML Confucius Institute are ready to leave for China.

These students will be accompanied by two NUML Teachers, Mr Haseeb and Ms Rashada.

During their stay at Beijing University, they will learn Chinese language and visit different historical places. The nation

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Teachers stage protest against decision
Rawalpindi: Showing resentment against Punjab government's decision of putting Gordon College and Government College for Women, 6th Road, Rawalpindi, including 24 other institutions across Punjab under the board of governors, the lecturers, students and their parents Friday staged a protest demonstration at the College Road.

The protesters were carrying banners and placards against the Punjab government. The traffic remained suspended for half and hour. They demanded of the federal government to intervene in the matter and stop Punjab government from giving the two colleges under the control of board of governors.

Rawalpindi Division Professors and Lecturers Association President Muhammad Ilyas Qureshi in his address warned the government to repeal its decision in the best interest of students and education department otherwise they would start 'long march' to Islamabad. "Punjab government has decided to give 26 best colleges of the province including Gordon College and Government College for Women, 6th Road, Rawalpindi, under the board of governors," he added.

He expressed the fear that the decision would have direct impact on the fee structure of the colleges, which would burden the already inflation-hit parents. He said with the increase in fee structure, the poor people would not be able to educate their children. "Some government colleges were put under board of governors including Queens Marry College Lahore, Kennard College Lahore, FC College Lahore and Government College Lahore in which poor could not get education," he said.

Rawalpindi Division Professors and Lecturers Association Vice President Rauf Ahmed Shah, General Secretary Sardar Iftikhar Hussain and other office-bearers also strongly opposed the Punjab government's decision. Director Colleges Dr. Muhammad Ashraf admitted that Punjab government is giving 26 colleges to the board of governors and the decision would be implemented within 15 days.

Responding a query, he allayed the public fears regarding fee structure. He said that the fee structure would not change that much and the basic reason behind giving these colleges under board of governors was to improve the education standard.

Yasir Mehmood, father of a student studying in the Gordon College, expressed resentment over the decision. He said that the decision would result in increase in fees, which they could not afford. He appealed to the government of Punjab to repeal its decision or at least not increase the fee structure, which could be unbearable for them.

Asma Hussain, a student of the Government College for Women, 6th Road said that her parents could hardly pay the annual fee of Rs1,895 and it would not be possible for them to pay high fees under the new system. She urged the government to take the decision back in the best interest of the people and young generation.

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QAU scientists prepare environment-friendly bio-diesel
Islamabad: The Department of Plant Sciences of Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) has successfully prepared environment friendly bio-diesel that can be used to operate motor vehicles without producing hazardous amount of carbon dioxide, considered highly harmful to the natural environment.

The project was initiated in 2004 and after making hard work for many long years the scientists of the university has finally succeeded in preparing bio-diesel and road test carried out recently to run a tractor was really a success that opened up many new avenues in the field of environment-friendly energy production. The aim of the project was to continue scientific and technological collaboration between university and industry to identify biological resources for bio-diesel production to ensure pollution free sustainable development.

The principal investigator Prof. Dr. Mir Ajab Khan, Dean Faculty of Biological Sciences of QAU, and Dr. Mushtaq Ahmad and team members are quite satisfied with results of their research and are quite hopeful that a time would come when they would be able to produce bio-diesel in such a amount that all university vehicles could be run on it.

Dr. Mushtaq Ahmad said this alternative fuel is environment friendly, engine specific and would be more economical and could be used in vehicles, power tractors and other agricultural machinery.

He said they had set up first bio-diesel lab in the country and first road test was conducted at Sihala where a railway engine was successfully run with the help of bio-diesel. Dr. Mushtaq said after conducting chemical test of the engine it was came to know that bio-diesel has no negative effect on 'health' of the engine and it was quite parallel to diesel.

He said they have so far identified 25 non-edible plants such as 'Such chain' and 'hernoli' that can be used for production of bio-diesel. "Bio-diesel is an environment friendly fuel, with far less emissions than mineral diesel fuel, and is the perfect solution for the food and fuel crisis," he said He said it can be obtained by chemically converting non-edible oil from plants that can thrive on marginal land and can be cultivated with saline and waste water.

Pakistan has the potential to cultivate non-edible oil yielding plants, as more than 60 per cent of Pakistan's land lies barren.

The bio-diesel can be used for buses, wagons and railway engines, helping in reducing harmful emissions, and can also be utilised for power generation.

It is pertinent to mention here that scientists of NED University Pakistan also stated in the recent past that country's import bill can be reduced by Rs69.5 billion if only bio-diesel produced from non-edible raw material is

used in the transportation sector.

Dr. Mushtaq said the university has started a degree programme in biotechnology for MPhil students and many more students are expected to conduct more research in this field.

He suggested that the government should provide buy back guarantees to bio-diesel producers at a price determined by OGRA and make it mandatory to use this source of energy for public sector vehicles running on diesel, adding all imported plant, machinery, equipment and specific items used in the production of bio-diesel should be exempted from customs duty, income tax and sales tax.

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UK university awards doctor honorary fellowship
Peshawar: The University of Central Lancashire Preston, one of the world's top 100 universities, has conferred honorary fellowship on a noted paleontologist, Prof Dr Mukhtiar Zaman Afridi, for his services and humanitarian contribution to the development of healthcare and education in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Each year the university confers honorary awards on a number of distinguished citizens for their significant contribution to the society."It would be an encouragement to all students and staff to have someone of your commitment and tenacity as an Honorary Fellow of the university.

Our students and staff take great pride in their association with Honorary Fellows and would look forward to developing a close relationship with you," Malcolm McVicar, vice chancellor of the university, said in a letter to Prof Mukhtiar Zaman.

The letter said the head of the School of Psychology would be happy to provide Dr Afridi with an insight into the work of that school. "There are many ways in which Honorary Fellows can help the university to achieve its aims and objectives and contribute to the development of an exciting and stimulating learning environment. To this end, as an Honorary Fellow, you would be invited to participate from time to time in events at the university," added the vice chancellor.

The relevant ceremonies would be held at the Guild Hall, Preston, from November 29 to December 1in which Prof Mukhtiar Zaman would be given honorary fellowship.

Dr Mukhtiar Zaman, who is the head of paleontology unit at Khyber Teaching Hospital, said he had accepted the offer and termed it an honour for Pakistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and his institution. The news

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Medical college in Fata to cost $62m
Peshawar: The Fata Secretariat will establish a modern institute of medical sciences in the tribal region at a cost of $62 million.

A statement issued here on Friday said the initiative comprised a medical college and allied training institutes which would produce a trained and competent pool of doctors and paramedics to meet the present and future needs of healthcare facilities located in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. According to Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) carried out by the Fata Secretariat in association with the Federal Bureau of Statistics and Unicef, there is an acute shortage of doctors in general, and specialists and women doctors in particular in the tribal region.

"Around 60 per cent of the posts created for women medical officers and health specialists are still lying vacant in different health facilities in the tribal region," said Dr Fawad Khan, director general of Fata health services. This, he added, was mainly because of shortage of locally trained staff.

Establishment of the medical institute would ensure operation of the existing health facilities at full strength, he said.

Under directives of the federal government, the Higher Education Commission has been tasked to facilitate establishment of the institute in two phases. Despite finalisation of its planning, progress on implementation phase was stalled due to unrest in certain areas of Fata, the statement said. Dawn

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