On campus sexual harassment & HEC policy

Sexual harassment on campus: Universities oblivious of HEC guidelines
Peshawar, May 21: None of the public sector universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has complied with the Higher Education Commission's (HEC) policy guidelines to prevent sexual harassment on the campus, it is learnt.

Being regulator of higher education institutions the HEC had formulated a year ago an elaborate mechanism for dealing with the complaints related to sexual harassment on university promises.

However, none of the universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had implemented the mechanism as per policy, according to investigations being carried out by a high-level committee of the provincial government.

The government had constituted a committee under provincial minister Sitara Ayaz to look into the complaints of sexual harassment at the University of Peshawar (UoP), as raised at the provincial assembly last month.

The committee besides looking into the affairs of the universities was also verifying whether they have put in place effective measures against sexual harassment or not.

A member of the probe committee, wishing anonymity said that to the astonishment of the committee none of the public sector universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has followed the HEC policy guidelines.

"The UoP management has no idea that they have the HEC policy guidelines on the issue," lamented this member, while citing the university management's reply to the committee's queries.

Sitara Ayaz argued that it had been a major failure on the part of university administrations that they did not implement the HEC guidelines and increased the vulnerability of different people to sexual harassment.

"Believe me, if they just implement what the guidelines say there will be hardly a complaint," claimed Ms Ayaz, when approached by this correspondent for comments.

The probe body has checked with the administration of UoP and other government-run universities about the guidelines, she said and added that unfortunately, none of them had followed them.

"This will be our major recommendation in the report to the government to make sure the universities implement the HEC guidelines," Ms Ayaz said and hoped that the committee would submit its report by next week to the chief minister for action.

The HEC policy guidelines, compiled through consultation involving all stakeholders, envisaged the appointment of Harassment Monitoring Officers (HMOs) and setting up of a full-time Harassment Complaint Cells (HCCs) to deal with such complaints.

As per the guidelines, the HMO is supposed to be an employee of the university to be appointed by Syndicate, Executive Council or Board of Governors with minimum 10 years of service experience in the same institution and bearing sound reputation.

The HMO will develop tools, educational programmes etc to promote awareness and foster an environment free of sexual harassment in the institution besides carrying out complaint resolution through informal and formal means.

Apart from this, as per the guidelines the HMO will also act as an impartial counsellor and advisor to any member of the university and maintain an unbiased attitude to all complaints.

The university administrations were required to set up an HCC to facilitate policy implementation. Complaints of sexual harassment or any other forms of harassment could be lodged with this cell.

This would require a team consisting of a full-time trained professional HMO, computer specialist and assistant, who could follow up the documentation through relevant offices.

This cell was required to sensitise all university faculty, staff and students to sexual harassment through workshops and trainings. All staff/faculty that enter the university employment would require completing a three-day essential sensitisation training programme as an ongoing activity.

Another member of the probe committee, wishing anonymity said that the UoP's step of suspending a teacher of History Department had been taken without following the procedures defined in the HEC guidelines.

Citing the guidelines, this member said that resolution of complaints could be made through counselling at first step. However, if the complainant wishes to follow through the hearing and tribunal procedures, he/she would be required to fill a complaint form that would be available in the cell.

"But it did not happen in this particular case," the member pointed out.

When contacted, a spokesperson for the Peshawar University insisted that they had complied with what the HEC had advised them. He, however, clarified that setting up of Complaint Cell and appointment of HMO involves financial implications and thus requires approval of different forums.

"Compliance with the HEC guidelines takes time," argued the spokesperson. Dawn

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ECP says process complete; HEC still waiting for 249 degrees
Islamabad: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) and Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) are not on the same page about the issue of verification of lawmakers' degrees and have provided contradictory facts about the status of the verification process to the Senate Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures, sources informed.

Sources said HEC higher-ups were caught by surprise when ECP Secretary Ishtiaq Ahmad disclosed before the Senate Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures that the degrees of 1,117 parliamentarians out of 1,170 were genuine while 53 could not be verified.

"HEC officials were surprised by the ECP secretary's claim that only 53 degrees were fake. This is puzzling because 249 lawmakers are yet to provide their Degrees Supplementary Forms (DSF) without which their degrees cannot be verified. HEC are wondering how it's possible to conclude the verification process when all documents haven't yet been received?" sources said.

According to official data, as many as 1,094 graduation degrees of lawmakers have been submitted to the HEC for verification, but 249 lawmakers have yet to provide their degrees supplementary forms. Due to this, the HEC has been unable to verify their degrees in line with procedures.

Sources said a majority of the reluctant lawmakers "would like to know the relevant provision of law, under which these certificates are required to be produced before the HEC for the purpose of verification of BA degrees, since the degrees have already been verified by the relevant universities/institutions."

HEC officials claim there are many instances where people with fake FA certificates succeed in obtaining a genuine BA degree, and those with a bogus BA degree get a genuine masters degree. Thus, the HEC wants to see their previous degrees and ascertain if the basis on which the later degree was obtained was valid.

HEC Chairperson Dr. Javaid Laghari said the process of verifying degrees had not yet been concluded since the Commission had not received the supplementary forms of 249 parliamentarians. "The process of verification of degrees can't be completed until the HEC receives and verifies the degree supplementary forms of each and every parliamentarian," he said. "We wrote a letter to the ECP about a month and a half ago to ask it to provide the required documents for verification but have so far received no response," he said.

The Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Rules of Procedures and Privileges, Senator Tahir Mashhadi, confirmed that the ECP secretary had informed the committee that the degree verification process was complete and except for 53 degrees, all degrees had been deemed genuine.

It is pertinent to mention that the Standing Committee took strong exception to a privilege motion introduced by senators Babar Awan, Ishaq Dar, Wasim Sajjad, Nilofar Bakhtiar and others regarding the inclusion of their names in the fake degrees verification process. The ECP secretary presented their viewpoint in the meeting of the Standing Committee in which he made the 'astonishing disclosure' that the degrees verification process was complete.

Senator Tahir Mashhadi said he was also surprised that all degrees had supposedly been verified because no one had informed parliamentarians about it. "I asked the ECP secretary whether he informed the prime minister or issued any press release about the completion of the verification process. His answer was no," he said.

The ECP focal person, Afzal Khan, was not available for comments despite repeated calls by these correspondents. The news

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IIUI to open 250 O-level schools
Islamabad: The Islamic International University (IIUI) Islamabad is all set to open 250 O-level schools across the country in next 5 years to impart modern education in line with Islamic and traditional values of Pakistan society.

"The university has given licenses to 55 IIUI schools across the country so far and out of which 31 have been fully operationalized," IIUI Schools Project Director Dr. Saeed ul Hassan Chishti told APP here on Friday.

He said that the university has set the target to establishing 100 such schools by June 2012.

He said that launching of IIUI Schools system is aimed at imparting quality modern education with special emphasis on Islamic values and cultural traditions.

The system would be a unique combination of both modern and Islamic education which would help make young generation more patriotic and true Pakistanis, he added.

He said Islam teaches love, peace, tolerances and respect for elders and the system would help inculcate these values in the students.

Dr. Chishti said that around 4000 students have been enrolled in these schools so far which reflect parents confidence on education system of the university.

He said that the university has made complete curriculum of these schools in the light of Islamic values and tradition.

He said that special emphasis was being given on quality education to meet the needs of modern world in line with Islamic teachings.

The university appoints, principals of these schools after giving proper training to them for this purpose, he maintained.

The syllabus prepared by the university for these schools could cater the needs of future, he added.

He said that in next phase, the chain would be spread in other countries including UAE, Saudi Arabia and UK.

He said that the university is also chalking out a plan to set up university's own examination board for these schools on patrons of Agha Khan, Cambridge level.

However, he said that affiliation would not be given to other schools and colleges with the board.

Director of IIUI Model School Campus Township Lahore Zeeshan Rais Khattak said that the system is a revolutionary step towards imparting modern education to the coming generation in line with islamic ways.

However, he said the programme needs to be properly highlighted to reach out to maximum number of people across the country. app

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Gordon College students yet to receive roll number slips
Rawalpindi: Students of the Government Gordon College, Rawalpindi, appearing in the Higher Secondary School (HSSC) examinations, are worried as they have not received their roll number slips yet.

They termed the delay negligence on the part of the college administration and Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) as examinations are commencing from May 24.

The students while talking to said that they are visiting the college to get their roll number slips but no one is attending them. "College administration and the concerned authorities of BISE should issue our roll number slips as soon as possible, they demanded.

Nawaz Khan, a student, said that only three days have left in start of examinations but the roll number slips have not been issued.

Muhammad Waqas, another student, said that this is the responsibility of the college administration to provide the roll number slips in time but because of their negligence all the students are suffering. He said the college administration is saying that they should collect roll number slips on May 23, whereas the examinations are going to start from May 24. "We couldn't concentrate on our studies because of this tension," he said.

Sources in the Government Gordon College said that the board hasn't issued the roll number slips of our students and we are also waiting for their response. Students are worried about their slips but what could we do, they said.

Principal of the Government Gordon College, Professor Dr Abdul Qayyum, was not available when contacted to get his comment on the issue. The news

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