Schools summer holidays confusion in Sindh

Two summer vacation schedules planned
Karachi, May 12: Senior Minister for Education Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq, allowing schools being run under the Cambridge system of education to continue with their previous schedule of the summer vacation, informed their representatives on Wednesday that Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah would take a final decision in this regard.

According to a recent decision of the provincial education department's steering committee, all public and private schools in the province will observe the summer vacation in July and August to avoid loss of studies due to reduced timings of the institutions in Ramazan.

If implemented, the decision means there would be two summer vacation schedules in the province.

The education minister made the statement while acceding to a request of the representatives of Cambridge schools at a meeting after they expressed their inability to implement the steering committee's decision because their examination schedule and syllabus were linked with the Cambridge University and it was not possible for them to make such drastic changes in such a short span of time.

However, he made it clear that a summary in this regard would be sent to the chief minister for his approval and a final decision concerning the summer vacation would be made public in the light of CM's decision.

Others who attended the meeting were the secretary in charge of the provincial education department, Waseem Ursani, Boards of Intermediate and Secondary Education Karachi chairman Prof Anwar Ahmed Zai, Sindh Private Educational Institutions Director Mansoob Hussain Siddiqui and representatives of private schools management associations.

The minister explained that the summer vacation in Cambridge schools this year would be observed in June and July though the vacation in government and privately-managed schools having the matriculation system would be observed in July and August.

Ramazan timings
He informed the participants of the meeting that the education department's steering committee had taken the decision of observing the summer vacation in July and August instead of June and July merely to avoid loss of studies due to a short duration of classes in Ramazan.

He added that schools and colleges running single shifts reduced their timings by an hour and those with double shifts by two hours in Ramazan.

Pir Mazhar asked the representatives of Cambridge schools that they should make arrangements for teaching Sindhi along with Urdu Salees at their institutions, assuring them of government cooperation in this regard.

Reiterating that he was against unnecessary holidays in educational institutions, the minister urged the representatives of private schools management associations to refrain from announcing holidays on their own.

Earlier, Pir Mazhar responding to a point of order in the Sindh Assembly had informed the house that the steering committee of the department having representation of civil society, parents and educationists in view of the Ramazan in August had decided to declare the summer vacation in schools in July and August instead of June and July.This decision, linked with the chief minister's approval, would remain effective for three years.

Last year, he recalled, the duration of classes reduced by 25 hours during Ramazan. He said that there were 11 holidays in August and the floods also stalled academic activities in the province.

Responding to a point raised by legislator Humera Alwani, the minister said that he would direct the private schools to charge only two-month fee instead of three months before the summer vacation. Dawn

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'Mass Communication students also acquire practical training'
Karachi: The students of Mass Communication besides pursuing course work should also pay attention towards practical training. This was stressed by Chairperson of Mass Communication Department, University of Karachi, Prof Dr Rafia Taj. She was speaking at a training workshop arranged for the students at the department on Wednesday. Dr Taj was of the view that job-oriented degrees were important need of the students. She said that the workshop was aimed at providing practical training to the students. The chairperson also called for a closer liaison with the media industry. She said that more such training workshops would also be organised in future. app

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'Fake foreign education consultants misguiding students'
Karachi: Majority of the local education consultancy firms are misguiding the students seeking admission overseas, a survey conducted by an NGO and interviews with several of those engaged in consultancy to the students, revealed. "We are very much concerned and the issue has been taken with the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to help us in this regard," said a senior chief executive officer of a leading Karachi-based firm on condition of anonymity.

Associated with the consultancy business since the year 2000, she said that fake consultancy firms have not only affected the business of registered firms but also damaged the image of the country. "HEC has given us good response but we need to create awareness among the students and parents who seek assistance of unregistered consultancy firms due to offer of cheap consultancy fee without going into details and genuineness," she added. "It is not possible without the collaboration of European, Australian and America-based private colleges and universities," she further pointed out. "The consultancy fees ranges from $200 to $500 depending on the reputation of the college, besides, in rupee terms all expenses range from Rs 0.5 million to Rs 1.5 million as per the subjects of the studies in private sector," said Faisal Amin, head of an NGO working on various projects about the education system in the country. According to the survey conducted by the NGO, at least 6,000 registered and unregistered consultancy firms were providing guidance service to the students to lure them to other countries for studies and lucrative part-time job offers. "There is need to create awareness among the students and parents as they consider it also a long-term investment," Faisal added. app

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Sindh governor for setting up of quality academic institutions
Karachi: Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan has emphasised the need for strengthening the role of Higher Education Commission (HEC) at provincial level under the supervision of its head office in Islamabad.

He also underlined establishment of reputable academic institutions in the province.

Talking to Dr SM Qureshi, Chairman of the Charter Inspection and Evaluation Committee (CIEC), Dr Khan also stressed for participation of private sector for the promotion of higher education in the country.

Dr Qureshi, here on Wednesday, presented the Fourth Biennial Report of the Committee for the period 2008-2010 to Sindh governor. The members of the committee were also present on the occasion.

Dr Qureshi mentioned that all the institutions in general had improved their overall performance, quality of education and their infrastructure, including students' facilities.

He specially mentioned the significant increase in the research activity with increasing number of MPhil and PhD students and cooperation among institutions, industry and business.

Chairman CIEC thanked the Sindh governor for his guidance and support in achieving these objectives. He also acknowledged the support of the Department of Education and Literacy and Governor's Secretariat.

Dr Qureshi mentioned that 21-chartered institutions in the private sector in Sindh were inspected, evaluated and graded. The grading was as under:

(i) 06 Stars: Iqra University, SZABIST and Institute of Business Management (IoBM). Iqra was rated No 01, SZABIST and IoBM both were rated No 02.

(ii) 05 Stars: Textile Institute of Pakistan, Sir Syed University, Greenwich University, Karachi Institute of Economics and Technology, Institute of Business and Technology, Hamdard University, ISRA University, Ziauddin University, Jinnah University for Women, Mohammad Ali Jinnah University, Khadim Ali Shah Bukhari Institute of Technology, Baqai Medical University, lndus Valley School and Newports Institute of Communications and Economics.

(iii) 04 Stars: Dadabhoy Institute of Higher Education, Preston University and Preston Institute of Management Sciences and Technology.

(iv) 03 Stars: Indus Institute of Higher Education.

The committee observed that the number of institutions had grown from 18 to 25. The number of students had increased from 28,000 to 46,000 with MPhil and PhD students from 245 to 1010, Faculty had increased from 2,300 to 4,000 and PhD degree holding teachers from 150 to 300.

The governor was informed that due to liberal and supportive policy in the province 40 percent of institutions of higher education are located in Sindh.

Sindh governor appreciated the efforts made by the CIEC and desired that it be strengthened to play its role even better. app

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'State must ensure provision of free education to all'
Karachi: The right to education to all children from the age of five to 16 is guaranteed under the Constitution, and the State has to ensure provision of free and compulsory education to all the children, observes the Sindh High Court.

The court directed the provincial law officer to submit a report within a month on the measures taken to provide such guaranteed education to the children of the province.

The court was hearing a petition of Islam Hussain, who had filed a pro bono publico litigation in the SHC seeking equal educational opportunities for all the citizens and a uniform education system in all the schools, colleges and universities.

The petitioner submitted that education had become a thriving industry in the country as a large number of private schools and educational institutions had been established while the government institutions were in dilapidated conditions.

He submitted that the syllabus of each school was different and books published overseas were compulsorily supplied to the students by the private institutions.

It was submitted that there were rich and powerful people whose children were getting quality education and the best employment while the children of the poor could hardly compete with them due to lack of quality education in the public sector education institutions.

Hussain said that the private schools were being run like an industry and they were not only creating a distinguished class, but also a sense of deprivation and feeling of inferiority among students belonging to the poor and the middle-class families, which amounted to discrimination and exploitation not permissible under Articles 2A, 3 and 25 of the Constitution.

The petitioner submitted that Article 37 A, B and C guaranteed that the government shall promote, with special care, the educational and economic interests of the backward classes and areas, remove illiteracy and provide compulsory secondary and higher education equally.

The court was prayed to issue direction to the education ministry to introduce a uniform syllabus for all the educational institutions and make swift arrangements for appointment of well-educated teachers in all schools and colleges of the province and provide all the required facilities to the teachers and students.

Education officer Ghafoor Daudpota produced a list of annual development program and new schemes in the education sector.

He submitted that the education department was only concerned with preparation of a scheme and had nothing to do with its approval.

The SHC's division bench, headed by Chief Justice Mushir Alam, observed that out of 32 schemes, only five were approved whereas in some schemes date of approval was not mentioned while some approved in 2009 without mentioning what progress had been made in these schemes.

The court directed the Secretary of Education to submit the progress report on these schemes.

Referring to the new amendment in Article 25-A through the 18th amendment, the court observed that the right to education to children from the age of five to 16 was guaranteed and the State had to provide free and compulsory education to these children.

In this regard, the court directed the provincial law officer to submit a report on what measures had been taken to provide such guaranteed education to the children of the province.

The court directed that the report be submitted within a month. The news

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SU alumni fund planned
Hyderabad: The consultative committee - constituted in the light of recommendations of an all-parties conference recently organised by the University of Sindh - has decided to set up the university alumni fund and utilise its funds for the welfare of the students.

The decision was made at a meeting of the committee which was presided over by Vice-Chancellor of the university Professor Dr Nazir Mughal and attended by representatives of different political parties, intellectuals and civil society activists.

The meeting appealed to the university alumni and philanthropists to contribute donations for the fund.

It decided to fix a date for removal of posters and banners from the campus and invite leaders of political parties or their nominees to join hands in this exercise.

The vice-chancellor informed the meeting that the process for the establishment of the university students' welfare association was underway to promote co-curricular activities. Two students from each department would be nominated on the association on the basis of their excellent academic record.

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Teachers put off protest after assurance
Quetta: The Balochistan Government Teachers Association ended its protest on Wednesday after Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani assured them that all their demands would be met.

The teachers took out a procession from the education directorate and tried to go to the Governor's House and the Chief Minister Secretariat but police stopped them near the Officers' Club on the Civil Hospital road.

Ministers Mir Zafar Zehri and Zamarak Khan Piralizai and Quetta Commissioner Naseem Lehri held talks with the teachers and took their representatives, Haji Ghaffar Khan Gadazai, Mujibullah Khan, Khadam Ali Bugti and Dad Jan Baloch, to the chief minister.

The teachers held successful talks with Mr Raisani and they put off the strike. They presented a 27-point charter of demands to the chief minister. Dawn

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