HEC saved from devolution?

HEC may continue in present form
Islamabad, May 02: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has finally been saved from devolution through commitment made by President Asif Ali Zardari to the leadership of Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q) during their talks.

According to well-placed sources, among the various demands that the PML-Q put forward before the President, one was to retain the federal role of the HEC, currently put on hold pending the establishment of Commission for Standard Higher Education.

The president, according to the information, has accepted the demand about HEC. He has committed that HEC would continue to work under its present legal status, revealed the source.

It has also been learnt that the president said that the mechanism to retain the federal role of HEC would be decided later on. It is more likely that a committee of legal experts would be constituted to design a mechanism through which HEC could be saved from devolution, he said.

MNA Marvi Memon said that she could not speak about her party s policy and even did not have information about what happened during the talks between the president and leadership of PML-Q.

I am personally convinced that HEC should continue to work with its current independent status and there is no need to constitute any new commission that would work under the Cabinet Division, she said.

PML-Q secretary general Mushahid Hussain Sayed in his press conference held sometime back clearly stated that his party opposed the planned devolution of HEC and would resist any move aimed at subjugating the national institution .

HEC Chairperson Dr Javaid Laghari said that he had no clue if the president has accepted this demand of PML-Q. We, however, expect the democratic government to honour the wishes of the people of Pakistan and save HEC from devolution, he said.

He said that now it was not a matter to save HEC from devolution but to let it work in its current status. The point here is to let HEC work in its existing shape and not to introduce some new commission and new legislation in this regard, he added.

Despite repeated attempts by these correspondents presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar was not available for comments.

Earlier, the meeting of Council of Common Interest (CCI) approved the proposal that the federal government would continue to fund the public sector universities till the next NFC award due in 2014.

The sources claimed that during the meeting of CCI the provinces showed their complete inability to run public sector universities at their own thus forcing the federal government to allocate funds for higher education sector in the upcoming federal budget.

Now the federal government would allocate funds for higher education sector in the next annual budget. The finance wing was quite active to get rid of the financial burden of the public sector universities but the provinces were not ready to take up the responsibility that was apparently beyond their financial capacity, the sources said.

It has been learnt reliably that chairperson of Implementation Commission, Senator Mian Raza Rabbani, during the meeting of CCI severely criticised HEC and said that it should be devolved to the provinces. Rabbani was of the opinion that HEC was doing propaganda against government by saying that the government is taking revenge for HEC s strict stance in degree verification process, the source revealed.

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IIUI to hold open house
Islamabad: Faculty of Engineering and Technology (FET) of International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) will hold its second annual open on house on Monday (from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) here in its premises in male and female campuses separately. The Open House for male students will be held at Department of Electronic Engineering, Block-II (Male Block), whereas programme for female students be at Department of Electronic Engineering at Women Campus. The projects displayed in the campuses would provide fresh ideas to the market. This show will also help the students to seek their carriers in the industry or pursue for higher studies. The news

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Girls primary schools a picture of neglect
Taxila: Lack of basic facilities in primary schools for girls in Taxila and Wah Cantonment speaks volumes about government's seriousness to promote education.

According to information gathered by this correspondent, there are 22 girls primary schools 12 in rural area of Taxila and 10 in urban area of Wah Cantonment.

These schools lack proper infrastructure, drinking water, electricity, boundary walls and toilets, making it difficult for the students to continue education.

Four of the schools are imparting education in 11 dilapidated rooms which have already been declared 'dangerous' by both the education and building departments. These schools are located in Wahdat Colony, Baoudho, Salargah and Ghazi Kohli.

Besides, six schools in Masian, Khurrum Gujjar, Bhallar Toup, Thatta Khalil, Badhana Khurd and Dhoke Zaindi are without water. Out of the 22 primary schools, 18 are without any chair or sitting arrangement. These institutions are located in Wahdat Colony, Lub Thatoo, Baoudho, Chokkar, Goudho, Bhallar Toup, Usman Khattar, Thatta Khalil, Mohallah Majawar, Sarai Kalla, Losar Sharfoo, Dhoke Zaindi, Jhuggain, Khurrum Paracha, Khurram Gujjar, Gangou Jumma, Wanni, Badhana Khurd and Dhoke Mouchian. In these schools, the students are compelled to sit on the floor come rain or shine or asked to bring their own rags. The teachers are forced to work without tables in the girls primary schools of Mohallah Majawar and Saint Joesph. Three schools of the area are still without electricity. They are the girls primary school Khurrum Gujjar, Mullpur and Badhana Khurd.

Much emphasis was laid on security of the educational institutions especially around girls schools in the wake of growing law and order situation. But still the government girls primary schools at Khurram Gujjar, Chokkar and Mohallah Majawar are without boundary walls.

Moreover, the primary schools in Lub Thatoo with 377 students, Thatta Khalil (293 students), Mohallah Majawar (206

students), Wanni (119 students), Dhoke Zaindi (103 students), Losar Sharfoo (209 students) and Govt Primary Sarai Kala (125 students) have only two washrooms each.

While at the primary school Thatta Khalil, which has 293 students, there is only one washroom.

When contacted, Deputy District Officer (Education) Rubina Rauf said the district and provincial health authorities had been informed about the situation. She said due to paucity of funds the schools lacked facilities. In reply to a question, she said maintenance and construction of the classrooms declared 'dangerous' was placed on top of the priority list. She said a report had been submitted to the education department as well as the area MPA for provision of funds. Dawn

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Award Night held at St Joseph's College
Karachi: Thousands of students of intermediate and graduate studies in various disciplines of St Josephs College for Women were declared passed at the Award Night here on Saturday.

The disciplines included Pre-Medical, Pre Engineering, Arts & Humanities and Commerce.

Awards under various categories were also given to students, including the best class award, best faculty award, leader teachers award and best teacher award.

The students of 2nd year arts performed traditional dance which was appreciated by the audience.

Senior official at Sindh Education Department Naheed Shah Durrani was the chief guest on the occasion.

While speaking on the occasion, Durrani said institutions like Saint Joseph nurtures human beings as they learnt the lesson of love and cohesiveness from there. Daily times

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NED University experts question plan for reconstruction of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar's shrine
Karachi: The NED University experts have raised certain objections over the material used in the reconstruction of the shrine of the Sufi saint, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, in Sehwan.

The experts had suggested to the government that the permanent solution to the problem of seepage was to reconstruct the RCC dome of the shrine, according to official sources and documents obtained on Sunday.

The authorities concerned were believed to be redesigning the scheme as per the Sindh Public Procurement Regulatory Authority rules.

Nespak, which was given the task of supervising the overall work, has reportedly withdrawn from the scheme recently owing to some undisclosed reasons, sources said.

The structural deterioration of the shrine of the Sufi saint and massive irregularities in its repair work has been in the news since the dome collapsed in 1994.

The then government had ordered reconstruction of the entire Dargah, and a master plan was prepared.

The work's executing agency was the Prime Minister's Monitoring and Evaluation Cell while its contractor and consultant were the National Construction Ltd (NCL) and Nespak.

The earlier design of the shrine and dome included a steel structure through piling work, but later the dome was supported by iron girders and plates on the RCC walls.

However, the seepage problem re-emerged. Official sources said that some companies used gold leafing worth over forty million rupees in the dome which faded over time.

The proceedings of inquiries into the iron dome and gold leafing were still pending with NAB and the provincial Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE).

In order to deal with the situation, President Asif Ali Zardari had chaired a meeting in Islamabad on 23rd February 2010 and directed the NCL to rectify the faulty work.

In this connection, a new scheme, "Remedial Measures of Main Shrine" worth Rs47.025 million, was initiated by Nespak in July 2010.

The remedial plan was sent to the NED University for review. It was also reviewed by some officials and was ultimately rejected as the plan had several loopholes.

Later, the Management Board of Redevelopment Work of Dargah Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar invited fresh tenders on 13th March 2011.

Around 11 consultants minus Nespak applied for prequalification. Nespak's decision not to apply surprised many because the construction firm had earlier made a commitment to participate and complete the bids as per government rules, an official familiar with this development said.

In order to review the latest situation, the Chief Secretary of Sindh, Abdus Subhan Memon, held a meeting at his office on 27th April 2011.

An official who had attended the meeting said that the government had hired a new consultant to redesign the scheme.

He said several phases of the scheme were stopped owing to inquiries by NAB and ACE.

The official claimed that the work would be done in a transparent manner as they had now fulfilled PPRA rules. The news

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