KU BS programme victim of internal squabbling
Karachi, Mar 03: The bachelor of Studies (BS) programme that began at the University of Karachi (KU) in 2007 with much fanfare and claims of enhancing standards and bringing a vast array of diverse subjects to the students has become a victim of a lack of planning and will on behalf of the administration to implement it.
The internal squabble between the Semester Section and the deans surfaced on Saturday, hastening the deans to announce postponement of the 'Mid Term Examinations' on Monday (March 2). The announcement was vague and gave no reasons for the abrupt step taken by the deans. The sources say that it was done to avoid a direct confrontation with the Students Alliance, an umbrella of nine student parties excluding All Pakistan Muttahida Students Organisation (APMSO) on the question of raising the passing marks from 40 to 50 marks.
KU Registrar, Prof. Rais Alvi said that the postponement was an effort on part of the university to avoid deterioration in law and order situation that looked imminent in the background of students' agitation. "The Vice Chancellor is not in the university and we had no other option other than delaying examinations," he explained.
A senior professor at the university said that "The BS programme was a non-starter as the Academic Council had accepted it without deliberating its pros and cons. The BS Committee comprising Prof. Saleem Memon, Dr Faheemuddin and Dr Junaid Sagheer Siddiqui were not acquainted with the BS programme's methodology. The Committee was supported by pro-Jamaat teachers and Barkati Group. The programme was incomplete, conflicts within (the programme) and problems continued to emerge. The result was issuance of frequent notifications, corrections and amendments that created confusion among the students and the teachers."
The deans felt that their turf was taken by the BS Committee and the latter was not authorised for issuing notifications. A number of issues in the programme were either not defined clearly or not communicated properly. This resulted in teachers filing results based on old passing marks that in turn were rejected by the Semester Section. The deans' offices pressurised the Semester Section to send them results for correction. Chaos ensued as according to new process, students had to run after their course in-charges to get their signature after correction of marks. The results of the previous year are still being corrected.
Meanwhile, the Students Alliance that is protesting against the BS programme, calling it 'Baybus' (helpless) programme, is dominated by Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT) but Peoples Students Federation (PSF) is also a part of it. Some analysts in the KU are of the opinion that the agitation is to embarrass Pakistan People's Party (PPP) in ongoing tussle against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). "If the agitation continues the PSF might leave the alliance to prevent causing any harm to the PPP, its parent party," says a professor from Science Faculty, requesting anonymity.
A KU official says that the BS programme has an intrinsic fault. "No where in the world marks are awarded the way KU is doing. They should be performance-based-curve filtering that means we consider the type of questions. Whether they are easy or tough and mark the answer scripts accordingly."
BS mid-term exams postponed
Karachi: A meeting held at the KU on Monday has decided to reschedule the mid-term examinations that were to start from March 5. The concerned deans and chairpersons will notify the new schedule. The meeting also decided that the students admitted to BS First Year class 2007 batch presently promoted to the fifth semester will be examined according to the old grading system. The students admitted in 2008 and 2009 in BS First Year and in 2009 in BS Third Year will be examined according to the new grading system. The News
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Ban on teachers' unions withdrawn
Karachi: The Sindh government has withdrawn the ban imposed on teachers unions in the province during the tenure of former Sindh Chief Minister Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim, announced Sindh Education Minister Pir Mazharul Haq on Monday.
Speaking at a press conference held at the Karachi Press Club, Haq said that there is a vast difference between the ideology of the present and past governments, adding that he will do everything within his power to resolve the issues of teachers.
He also announced that the provincial government will also withdraw the appeal it had submitted in the Supreme Court against the verdict of the Sindh High Court (SHC). The SHC had rejected the ban imposed by Rahim's government and, later, the then government had challenged the verdict in the apex court. Haq went to say that he will fight as a lawyer for the rights of the teachers and they will be given all allowances, equal to the teachers of other provinces.
Responding to a question, he claimed that his department has opened at least 2,500 closed schools. He also said that the government was implementing a transparent policy for the appointment of teachers, under which, only candidates securing at least 61 marks will be selected.
The minister said that monitoring committees are being constituted to check the performance of schools and journalists will also be included in the committees. Haq added that he had issued directives to the district education EDOs to ensure the maintenance of school buildings before any tragedy transpires. Daily Times
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Education: promised by the government but fulfilled by NGOs and individuals
Karachi: Successive governments have claimed that 'education' was their priority and they would do their best to improve the standards once they were in power. However, quality education is still a distant dream for the poor since most government schools, if functional, are losing enrolment every year due to the lack of development in the sector.
As far as the existing setup is concerned, education is one of the 5 Es (employment, education, energy, environment and equality) included in the incumbent party's election manifesto. However, the way things are going it appears that the dreams of poor students may fall prey to the political interests of those in power.
Despite the fact that billions of rupees have been released for the education sector, however, the ground situation clearly demonstrates the misuse of these funds. Most of the functional schools do not have teachers, while largely the government school buildings are in dilapidated conditions. Similarly, despite the fact that there is a shortage of teachers in government schools, the commissioned pass school teachers have not been issued posting orders.
Of the total, 7039 primary schools have no boundary walls. Of 49,028 schools in Sindh – 7,572 were non-functional till June 2008. The Sindh Minister for Education claimed to have opened 2500 schools; still more than 5000 schools are non-functional. Additionally, out of the 41,456 working schools, 29,035 do not have electricity and 5037 do not have furniture.
While the governments alone have failed to carry out any substantial developments in education sector, the role of NGO's and other non-profit organisations is worth praising. Under the given system which is highly vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement, the public private partnership option may work.
The Citizens Foundation (TCF), Citizens Education Development Foundation (CEDF), Hope NGO, Zindagi Trust, Book Group and others are playing a positive role. Similarly, NGOs, individuals and volunteers who have adopted government schools are also significant. Therefore, government should look forward to carrying on with pubic private partnership to minimise the chances of corruption.
It is important to note that the government's role is not over by letting any NGO or individual adopt a school. In fact the government should release funds for necessary development in the schools being adopted. Moreover, they should also spend money and recruit teachers on merit.
The SMB Fatima Jinnah Government Girls School, Garden and the MAO Government Primary and Secondary School, Sultanabad are examples that prove that if funds are utilized transparently results are obvious.
City Nazim Mustafa Kamal, who also supported SMB School, recently announced that around 40 similar public model schools will become operational in the city soon. He said that the CDGK will bear all expenses regarding books, uniforms as well as expenses incurred during extra-curricular activities. If the city government keeps its promise and the Sindh government follows the same we might have an improved education system. One adopted school is educating some 2500 students in the environment that meets international standards. If City Nazim is able to realise his dream of replicating the model into 40 other schools, at least one million children belonging to low income socio-economic backgrounds will be able to acquire quality education free of cost.
If the Sindh Government is indeed determined to provide quality education to the less privileged children, they too should play a practical role and move one step ahead of city government. It may not be wrong to say that if educated our new generation can do wonders in all fields thus result in progress of the country. -firstname.lastname@example.org
KGS annual sports day held amidst fanfare
Karachi: The junior section of Karachi Grammar school recently held their annual sports day, an event that had students, the faculty as well as the parents participating with equal enthusiasm. From the thrilling PE display and the march past to the athletic events, Sports Day was an extremely well disciplined affair, upholding the importance of punctuality and orderliness by example.
Fortunately, while there was discipline on the field, there was energy and excitement in the stands, where students and parents alike would break out into cheers and applause for the house of their choice.
Students at KGS are divided into four 'Houses': Streeton, Frair, Papworth and Napier and through various athletic events (some of which are held prior to Sports Day to prevent the event from becoming too time consuming). While winning sportsmen are awarded medals, the winning House receives the trophy. Papworth won this year, the light blue flag going up to honour the house that was added several years after the other three were established.
Mushtaq Chhapra, Director of The Citizens Foundation, graced the event with his presence and advised the children to "cherish this time as it is the best part of life."
He added, "Participation is what matters most; taking the victories with the losses." Mr Chhapra also spoke about the balance that needs to be struck between academic strength, sportsmanship and social work. He outlined the efforts made by The Citizens Foundation, and encouraged the children to associate themselves with some form of philanthropic work too.
"We are all part of a citizen's foundation," he said. Mr Chhapra also reflected on Pakistan's current affairs optimistically. He said that despite "all the darkness we come across every day, our country is not doomed." On that note he quoted notable Pakistani poet Ahmed Faraz:
"It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness." It must be added that while events and programmes like this usually tend to go down as an essential academic formality, they in fact teach invaluable lessons in terms of team spirit, leadership, sportsmanship and the importance of discipline and a healthy lifestyle. The News
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