Students confused as holidays rescheduled
Karachi, May 09: The government's announcement that the summer vacation will start from July, and not June, has sparked mixed reactions among parents, teachers and students.
Senior Education Minister Pir Mazharul Haq said on Saturday that that the schools and colleges in the province will be closed for the summer vacation in the months of July and August, instead of June and July. He was talking to journalists after presiding over a meeting of the steering committee of his department where the decision was taken.
According to the education minister, they had received requests from authorities and the general public that the summer vacations should be rescheduled so that the upcoming month of Ramazan falls during the holidays.
"Keeping these suggestions in mind, the committee decided that the summer vacation will be observed from July 1 to August 31, 2011. The schools and colleges will reopen after the Eidul Fitar," said the minister.
"The last-minute and, frankly speaking, pointless decision of the government has not only confused us but also the school administration," said 14-year-old Ammar Siddiqui, a student of Links Secondary School.
According to him, the year's curriculum has already been completed as planned so "what is the point of making us return to school after our final examinations?".
Also, many students have already planned their summer vacations, including domestic and international travels, and a lot of people would have to cancel their tickets and rearrange their much anticipated summer holidays.
"I had made up my mind. I had arranged everything according to the previous schedule. Now, I've to undo everything. Why does our government announce such important things at the last minute," said an agitated Hasan, an intermediate student.
"I think it's a good decision. Going to school and listening to lectures with an empty stomach is quite a painful experience," said a high school student, Umair, who seemed to be thrilled by the announcement. "During Ramazan, we stay up late in the night and play cricket. So, I won't have to wake up early in the morning to go to school."
However, Ammar disagrees. "In my opinion, the government has more to worry about, like the recent killing of Osama bin Laden in its military's backyard; not to mention educating its underprivileged masses. They should focus more on social welfare and less on the Ramzan realities of schools catering to the country's very small elite," Ammar added.
A committee was also formed to take on board all the 'O' and 'A' level schools on the rescheduled vacation. The body comprises Acting Secretary Education Waeem Ursani, Director Private Institutions Mansoob Ahmed Siddqui and Chairman Board of Intermediate Education Karachi Prof Anwar Ahmed Zai.
He said that the chairmen of the all educational boards of Karachi had assured him that they would complete the examination process in May.
The steering committee also discussed others issues about improving the quality of education and training the teaching faculty.Your Comments
Private schools welcome new summer vacation schedule
Karachi: To everyone's surprise, private schools of the city welcomed the controversial decision made by the steering committee of the Education Department to change summer vacation's schedule; however, some school heads remained confused as how to react to the latest development.
The committee had made a recommendation to the chief minister to move the start of summer holiday's forward from June 1 to July 1.
Members of the steering committee claimed that it had received suggestions from people belonging to various walks of life to rearrange the holidays so that Ramazan falls during this time period.
"The decision would be applicable for the next three years, after which summer vacation would resume in June and July. Committee members had calculated that there would be a total of 11 holidays in August, excluding weekends. Additionally, school timings are reduced considerably during the month of Ramazan, which meant that students did not get enough time to study their lessons in the month of August," said Chairman All Private Schools Management Association Sindh, Syed Khalid said.
Shah, who also attended the steering meeting, added that he failed to see any problems resulting from the change.
"This decision was not taken lightly, as the education department had gathered the relevant information before announcing the rescheduling. The department is aware of the number of school days that are wasted in August and conducting classes during Ramazan would severely compromise educational objectives," he said.
Conversely, President PEAK Private Schools Management Association Haider Ali said that while the decision may seem good on paper, it is quite impractical.
He explained that based on the rescheduling of summer vacations, this year's new academic session for Class-XII would begin on June 15, but the first phase of the Annual Examinations of Higher Secondary School Certificate would come to end on June 13. Ali questioned how schools were expected to complete the admission process for the students of Class-XII in only two days.
Additionally, the assessment of examination papers of Class-IX and X may also be affected, he said, adding that Secondary School Certificate results were ordinarily released in August; but if teachers were to conduct classes in June, it was unlikely that they would be able to check answer sheets in due time.
The principals and heads of private schools were also worried and confused by the decision, as they did not understand the premise for the change.
Some questioned the truth behind the education department's claim that Ramzan was the reason behind the rescheduling. Many agreed that the government should have surveyed the general opinions of the public, especially school administrations, before making the announcement.
"The education department should have consulted the administrations of educational institutions before making the change public. What did they have to lose by consulting us - the stakeholders? Had they tried doing so, they may have gotten good feedback on the merits of their decision," said one principal.
Chairman of Private Schools Management Association Sharaf Uz Zaman also backed the decision. Oddly enough he expressed that vacations should be scheduled according to the severity of the weather. Zaman pointed to the fact that countries like India and Bangladesh plan school breaks according to the weather.
He also suggested that the education department should reduce the length of summer vacations so as to give students more time to study.
He said that the new academic session had started late, and much time was spent in preparations like purchasing uniforms and books; therefore, the additional one month of studies would be beneficial for students.
"Teachers now have another month to teach children their lessons and they can also used the extra time in preparing homework assignment for the summer break," he said.
'Increase in PhD scholars does not guarantee quality research work'
Karachi: The number of PhD scholars in Pakistan has considerably increased after the formation of the Higher Education Commission (HEC), but there is growing concern that the quality of the research may not have improved.
Former chairperson of the Department of Food Science & Technology Dr Abid Hasnain disagrees with the above surmise. "No, I am sure that with a few exceptions, the research in Public Sector Universities (PSU) is of relatively high standard. We are mostly doing research on under-utilised resources that can increase the quality of food products and their packaging", he commented.
Research Scholar Abdul Haque is working on the Edible Coating from Natural Gum Plants. He explained that he had worked in food industries and noted that the industries need solutions through fundamental research. "Our lack of knowledge in certain fields hampers our work. Even adaptations (from some other source of knowledge) are difficult for our researchers. I have chosen this topic because safe packaging and preservation of food products without any side effects has great potential", he said.
Haque pointed out that packaging material containing plastics are mostly used in the food industry, but they have side effects and are hazardous to the health.
It is because of this reason that edible packaging matter is sought that would increase the packaging and preservation capacity and harmful effects would be minimised.
The cost of packaging is reduced as indigenous plants are abundantly found in the country.
Ex-chairman, Department of Pharmacognosy, University of Karachi (KU), Professor Mansoor Ahmed, was of the opinion that the research work in his university and other PSUs was mostly in the right direction, but majority of the research findings go unnoticed in the field because no body utilizes these findings. "I think the industries should come forward and use the research for mass production in all the fields of science and technology. One of my research students is working on 'Stability Studies of Haemaccel with other Plasma Substitutes/Plasma Expander'. This is a very important study. Haemaccel is the substitute of the Blood Plasma. It is a sterile, pyrogen free, semi-synthetic 3.5 per cent colloidal infusion solution for plasma substitution. It is derived from thermal degradation of bovine gelatin", Dr Ahmed gives said while giving details.
According to Dr Ahmed, the research will find the ways that would detect any toxicity in Haemaccel, thus making it suitable for human body during blood loss.
Haemaccel is being subjected to withstand the high and low temperatures, in natural lights, on room temperatures and in various humid conditions. After ascertaining the toxicity phenomenon, it will be safer to use it in various pathological conditions.
Dr Ahmed said "Our research work is the first ever research-oriented standard work in the world. But unfortunately, it is not reported in the research literature."
Columnist and short story writer Dr Tahir Masood who is a Professor in the Department of Mass Communication, KU, reminds that a research is not meant for factories or some physical gain. "It is abstract and throws light on the poetry, prose or any other literary form, in journalism or philosophy, linguistics or in social sciences", he stated.
KU announces form submission date
Karachi: Controller Examination University of Karachi has announced that the candidates of all affiliated medical colleges can submit their examination forms for MBBS (First professional) part I and II supplementary examinations, 2011, from May 09 to 16.
The KU announced that the Area Study Centre for Europe of the university is going to organizse a workshop on 'Franco-German Reconciliation and its Significance for the Promotion of Peace in the Contemporary World' on May 9. The news
3,000 take postgraduate entry test at KU
Karachi: Around 3,000 male and female candidates seeking admission to Karachi University PhD, MS and MD (surgery and medicines) programmes appeared in an entry test held on the campus on Sunday.
The test, which was conducted smoothly at the departments where the candidates were seeking admission for doing PhD, MS and MD was supervised by a committee comprising deans and chairpersons of the university's different faculties and departments.
The committee was headed by KU Pro-Vice Chancellor Prof (Dr) Shahana Urooj Kazmi and its members included Prof (Dr) S.M. Abbas, Prof (Dr) Abuzar Wajidi, Prof (Dr) Zafar Iqbal, Prof (Dr) Ghazala Hafeez Rizwani, Prof (Dr) Darakhshan Haleem and Prof (Dr) Hisamuddin Mansoori.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the KU said that a meeting of the university postgraduate committee was scheduled to be held on Monday under the chairmanship of Vice Chancellor Prof (Dr) Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui while the results of Sunday's entry test would be posted on the university website - uok.edu.pk - on Tuesday (May 10).
Rangers and security officials of the university were deployed during the test to avoid any untoward incident. Dawn
SSUET security being beefed up
Karachi: Chancellor of Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET) ZA Nizami has directed formulation of an action plan containing strict security arrangements to be prepared within a week.
According to a press release issued on Sunday, Nizami was chairing a high-level meeting at the University to review security aspects of the SSUET.
The security measures on the campus of SSUET were reviewed in detail during the meeting, which was also attended by the Vice-Chancellor, SSUET, Professor Dr Saiyid Nazir Ahmed, two Deans of faculties, chairmen of all the departments, Registrar, SSUET, Shah Mahmood Syed, chief security officer, and other concerned officials.
The plan would focus on the existing shortcomings with steps for further improvement with no chances to be taken on any side, Nizami told the participants of the meeting.
It was directed that no student without uniform should be allowed to enter the university while all the employees including members of the teaching staff would carry and display the University's identification card with them.
The Chancellor, SSUET, also directed that all security cameras installed on the campus must be operational and any lapse in this regard will not be tolerated.
Every employee, whether belonging to teaching or non-teaching staff, should be vigilant and consider responsible as far as the question of security on the campus is concerned, Nizami further directed.
Hundreds throng Frere Hall book fair
Karachi: Hundreds of book-lovers thronged the book fair at the historic Frere Hall on Sunday after they learnt that the weekly event has opened after a period of seven years.
The Frere Hall, which lies just opposite the US Consulate, was closed to public for security reasons in early 2000's after successive blasts outside the consulate building. However, after the shifting of the consulate to Mai Kolachi Road, the Frere Hall was finally opened.
"It's the best thing to happen in such gloomy times. It's perhaps the only suitable place where you can visit along with your family on a Sunday," said Arif, who was showing his two-year old daughter bedtime story books at a stall.
District Coordination Officer (DCO) Muhammad Hussain Syed, former administrator of the defunct Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) Fahim-uz-Zaman Khan, Special Secretary Archives Iqbal Nafees, journalists, intellectuals and writers also visited the book fair which was launched by the defunct KMC in 1997.
It continued till 2003 until the place was closed for security reasons.
Over 25 book stalls were set up on the first day. The DCO said that the number of the stalls will be double from next week. "The historical Frere Hall Library and the Sadequain Art Gallery will also be opened for public on Sundays."
The massive and calm lawns of the Frere Hall make its book fair more attractive than those held in other places. "Here, you can sit along with family and friends and enjoy time your time on a lazy Sunday. It's perhaps the only place where you can get rid of the maddening noise of the city," said Huma, a university student.
According to the DCO, literary gatherings, book-launching ceremonies and painting exhibitions would also be held in the future. "We'll try our best to utilize the place for educational and literary purposes." The news
VCs committee meets in SALU
Khairpur: A meeting of Vice Chancellors' Committee was held at Shah Abdul Latif University (SALU) here on Saturday, which was presided over by the vice chancellor Sindh University, professor Dr Nazir A.Mughal.
The meeting appreciated the holding of an all parties conference at Sindh University and passed the report of follow-up meeting to which all the vice chancellors commended the work of vice chancellor Sindh University and hoped that resolutions passed in the meeting would be implemented in letter and sprit.
Another resolution demanded increase in PhD allowance from Rs5,000 to Rs10,000 per month, as done by the Punjab government. The committee decided to request the Governor/ Chancellor of the universities of Sindh to enhance PhD allowance on May 12. Dawn