UoP sexual harassment issue being blown out of proportion
Peshawar, June 10: The metaphor of "making a mountain out of a molehill" proved exactly true when the issue of sexual harassment at the University of Peshawar (UoP) echoed in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and prompted the provincial government and the varsity administration to form two different committees to probe the issue and submit factual reports to the quarters concerned.
Both the committees failed to come up with concrete evidence to prove the issue raised by Nighat Yasmeen Orakzai, the Pakistan Muslim League-Q legislator in the assembly. The issue that hit the headlines and became a hot topic of discussion and was even highlighted in the foreign media carried little truth.
The two committees interrogated six out of the 650 teachers of the oldest and most prestigious seat of higher education in the province and among them only one was found guilty. The committee under Provincial Minister for Social Welfare Sitara Ayaz had to find facts about five professors who had been accused of sexually harassing students or colleagues.
Sitara Ayaz said the committee had almost finalised the report. She said the body was waiting for the input of the lawmaker who had raised the issue in the provincial assembly and as soon as her viewpoint is received, the committee would submit the report to the chief minister.
The minister said the committee failed to lay hand on any concrete evidence against any of the accused professors or other teachers of the university as nobody turned up to testify that he or she was a victim or had valid proofs about the involvement of those people in harassment.
All the allegations were based on anonymous letters and hearsay and no action can be taken on the basis of such invalid documents and statements, she said. "The accused professors too were summoned by the committee and they recorded their statements," she added.
She said the committee also got letters from some female MPhil and PhD students, who disclosed their identity as well, refuting the reports about the alleged harassment. These students were of the opinion that since they were doing research work they have to remain with their respective supervisors for hours, but they have not felt anything wrong so far. And even if such situation arises at all, the students said they were mature enough to deal it properly. Sitara said these letters too were made part of the inquiry report that would be submitted to the chief minister.
The university administration had formed another committee to look into the alleged sexual harassment committed by a History Department lecturer Zahid Ali, who had already been suspended by the university on the same charge. The committee under Prof Dr Sara Safdar submitted its report to Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Azmat Hayat Khan, who would present it to the Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and chancellor of the university Masood Kausar in a meeting today (Friday).
This report found the lecturer guilty of sexual harassment. It noted that almost all the faculty members and students interviewed by the committee claimed the he was involved in such activities.
Some senior professors interviewed by this correspondent expressed strong reaction to the issue. They acknowledged there were problems with some faculty members due to which the issue was taken up in the provincial assembly and found space in the media.
One of the professors said the issue was not a new one. In the past, several senior faculty members and some officials in the university administration had been accused of similar practices and most of them later even married the women they were involved with. He pointed out some famous cases of such nature in the university. Unfortunately, he added that most of those faculty members were assigned key posts including the post of vice chancellors in different universities in the province. "This means that those at the helm of affairs themselves were patronising this thing," he maintained.
He remarked that those responsible for making appointments against key positions should assess the character of the people being appointed as well as it brought a band name to the teaching profession.
Another senior professor said the issue should be dealt with seriously as this had alerted the parents to think hundred times before sending daughters to the university. He said this would also force the parents to make demands for more women universities in the province.
The professor said the issue should be probed by a judicial committee headed by a judge of the high court. "If anyone is found involved in this heinous practice, he should be awarded exemplary punishment. And if there is no truth in the allegation, those who have raised the issue should be sued in a court of law," he stressed. The news
Varsity officials suspended for leaking paper
Mardan: Authorities of the Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan (AWKUM) have suspended two employees and handed them over to city police for leaking the English paper of BA (third year) scheduled for Thursday, sources said.
However, they added that the paper was held as scheduled as a new paper was set overnight Thursday.
The sources said that on a tip-off Vice Chancellor Dr Ihsan Ali and registrar Prof Sher Ali raided a place outside the university around midnight on Wednesday and recovered the English paper of BA (third year).
"After this the officials raided the university's examination block and according to their preliminary investigation they suspected that two key punch operators (KPOs) of the university, identified as Murad and Waheed, were responsible for the leak," said the sources.
They said that during probe the KPOs admitted before the VC and other university officials that they had received Rs50,000 for leaking the English paper.
"Both the officials have been suspended and handed over to police for further investigations," said Prof Sher Ali, when contacted. He, however, said that the university had also constituted an inquiry committee to find out other members of the gang.
Prof Ali said that the university officials cancelled the 'out' paper and prepared a new English paper on the same night, which was held as scheduled on Thursday. Dawn
Provinces asked to utilise maximum budget for education
Islamabad: In Pakistan, education department is not structured enough to integrate all educational, nutritional and health related indicators together. Provinces are on driving seats now and they can decide on which measures they want to take in delivering education, said Shahnaz Wazir Ali.
Addressing the participants of the World Food Programme (WFP) National School Feeding Plenary Session, She said the provinces need advocacy for improving educational facilities and utilising maximum budget towards education, enrolling more and more children in the institutions.
She said that the government has provided Rs400 billion to the provinces to design and implement good education infrastructure. "It was discussed in Wednesday's meeting with UNESCO and other counterparts that there would be free compulsory and quality education from grade 1-5 especially in KPK. Now, it is time to provide citizen advocacy to the provinces so that they can build the required and exceptional infrastructure of education in the country," she said.
She said that WFP has recognised the critical situation of education in Pakistan and came forth to assist in building education capacity of the country. "It has not only participated in the flood disaster and earthquake but also in the insecurity aspects of Pakistan," she added.
Representative of FATA Directorate for Education Fazle Mannan said that federal list has been abolished and now 18th Amendment miraculous achievement can be seen as provinces are given more authority to implement their programmes.
He said that FATA has lowest literacy rate of 32% (3 % girls and 29% boys), according to the 1998 population census. "FATA is 30 years behind rest of the provinces of the country because of internal and external issues especially law and order situation," he added.
Planning Commission Representative Mohammad Ayub said that national nutritional survey and other relevant data of six months period shows that we are facing nutritional problems emerging with double pace and capacity day by day. "1,600 calories are consumed across the boundaries within each household while the data indicates that intake of food has declined from 2,000 calories to 1,600 calories during past few years," he said.
He said that decline in food indicates has led to the increase in the dropout at school level. "Nutritional deficiency and dropout from schools are co-related. We have 30% malnourished children in Pakistan who cannot attend schools because of this deficiency," he added.
Unesco Representative Arshad Saeed, in his presentation titled 'Constitutional Amendment No. 18 - Prospects and Issues for Education Sector in Pakistan,' said the insertion of Article 25-A in the Constitution is a tremendous achievement, however, concerted efforts are needed to implement it.
He said further legislation is needed to implement this article along with passage of education act and framing of rules. Seven million children aged 5-9 are out of school and the provinces have to increase spending on education sector, he said.
Unesco Country Director Dr. Kozue Kay Nagata said that the rise in oil and food prices has negative impact on the communities. The high demand on UN economies has negative impact on poor population who cannot prioritise their needs.
"In 18th amendment, we have to work for all the children including poor, government and private etc. Our beneficiary must be most disadvantaged and challenging, suffering from nutrition," he said.
He said that Pakistan government has made a new programme of benefits for disabled today. "We have to give incentives and look at the demand side so that supply of education and nutrition should equally be provided. To reach most disadvantaged groups Unicef, Unesco and Pakistan government are working together," he added.
WFP Country Director in Pakistan Wolfgang Herbinger said there is one-third dropout in schools in Pakistan while nutritional deficiency as micronutrient is not even satisfactory. "For past three years, the situation of Pakistan has been deteriorating and environment is difficult. No doubt, there are new opportunities for the humanitarian actors as provinces who always take lead, need to be partnered with," he said.
He said that this is the time to set our priorities as we have just come out of the biggest flood in the history of Pakistan. He believes that it is an opportunity for us, now to assist these schools and provide required facilities.
"It is important to inform teachers that they should create awareness among students about what they should do in the case of any disaster. WFP's DRM is serving this purpose as it is expanding geographically to create the awareness of disaster risk management that should be taken care of by everyone in a society," he said.
He said that now, we have education atlas that visualises the progress and whole information about WFPs school feeding programme. It is a web-based version that can be accessed by anyone who needs information on education developmental programme of WFP.
Chief of Education (Unicef) Bart Vrolijk said devolution of education has fixed responsibility on the provinces to educate the children without discrimination.
Lively show by IGSC students
Islamabad: The Kindergarten Section of the International Grammar School and College (IGSC) celebrated its 21st Annual Graduation Day for Pre-Nursery, Nursery and Kindergarten Classes of 2011 here on Wednesday.
Prior to the formal graduation ceremony, the Pre-Nursery and Nursery students along with the Kindergarten students put up impressive performances of skits and rhymes. The well-known classics 'Little Red Riding Hood' and 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears' were performed by the students of Kindergarten.
The students of Nursery performed enthusiastically on the popular nursery rhymes 'Old Mac Donald had a farm' and 'The Farmer in the Den'. Their costumes truly replicated the animals present on a farm, specially the cow, the sheep, the hen and the horse.
The youngest performers of the day were the Pre-Nursery students who put up an act from a contemporary everyone's favourite 'Barney Show' .The scene was of a party and the students looked adorable in their outfits, singing and dancing excitedly to the catchy Barney songs. They had their very own Barney, the friendly purple dinosaur, whose costumes were imported to entertain the children. The confidence with which the young Grammarians acted out their roles and their perfect delivery in English at this tender age from 3 to 5 years took every one's by surprise.
Another memorable moment for both parents and teachers was to see the youngest Grammarians being awarded their first-ever certificates of promotion to the next senior class. The principal announced that every great journey begins with a single step as she congratulated the Class of 2011.
SBBU campus in Chitral demanded
Peshawar: Zainul Abideen, a former member of the provincial assembly and erstwhile district president of the Pakistan People's Party, has underscored the need for establishment of sub-campus of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University (SBBU) in Chitral.
In a statement, he said the federal government had approved establishment of the SBBU, Sheringal, Dir Upper sub-campus in Chitral but the decision had not been implemented for the last two years.
The former lawmaker said the government could establish the sub-campus even in a rented building if there was no state land for constructing a building. He deplored silence of the high-ups over this important issue, adding that the delay in implementing the project was a source of concern for Chitralis, who were already suffering because of the locational disadvantage. Zainul Abideen said: "It is strange that a district with 14,850 square kilometres area has been deprived of the university sub-campus," he added. The news