NTS testing body faces testing times

NTS has become a money minting machine
Islamabad, May 10: A complaint filed by a female doctorate student against the National Testing Service has led the Lahore High Court (LHC) to question the legal status of the institution that judges the academic qualification and merit of scholars aspiring for higher education.

A source close to the development alleged that NTS has become a money minting machine for its managers as it earned an un-accounted income of about Rs6 billion from the 20 million students it has tested since its inception.

The LHC has asked the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to submit details of NTS accounts and its administrative affairs. However, when confronted with the allegation, a director of NTS, Prof  Haroon Rasheed, said: "You have the wrong figures. We have tested only three million students."

According to NTS website, it is "Pakistan's first and only public sector autonomous, self-reliant and self-sustained premier testing organisation, which conducts tests and assessments for admissions, scholarships, recruitment and promotion. It is governed by a management committee."

However, an investigation has revealed a flip side of NTS the office of which is now located in H-8 sector.

"The NTS has conducted tests of around 20 million students since its inception and the amount they have charged is around Rs5 to Rs6 billion," a source close to the developments said.

Sources said the idea of NTS was first coined during the tenure of former president Pervez Musharraf when the all powerful management of the HEC helped the Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (Comsats) University in securing the contract for establishment of national level testing service.

"It was created through a Comsats notification issued in 2002 under section 4(c) which only allows testing of the Comsats students," the source added.

However, in 2003 the HEC gave an advertisement in a local Urdu daily and handed over the responsibilities of national testing to the NTS.

According to the source, the NTS has been charging Rs600 to Rs1,000 per test from students since its inception.

A high ranking official of the HEC, on condition of anonymity, said: "We are concerned about the accounting details and transactions managed by the NTS."

The senior official insisted: "The HEC's management now wants to know every detail related to this case since it's linked with public money. We want to know the assets of the NTS and the documents which are missing from the HEC record."But the official backtrack his statement by saying: "I think every thing is cleared because Dr Sohail Naqvi represented the HEC in the court and there must be no confusion."

However, when approached the director of the NTS Prof Haroon Rasheed, in his rebuttal said: "You have wrong figures we have only conducted tests of 3 million students."

He claimed: "We have credibility and we have won all the cases in the past and will definitely come out clean from this case as well."

"The NTS is an ISO-certified institution and one should write better things for the strengthening of the institutions."

When asked that can he share the accounting details of the NTS, he insisted they would submit all the record in the court.

Since the HEC's executive director is on leave and out of the country Dawn could only get a copy of his reply submitted in the Lahore High Court.

In his reply executive director of HEC Dr Sohail Naqvi said: "NTS was established in 2002…..NTS was the first testing service established in Pakistan and HEC engaged their services nationwide and a letter to this effect was issued in favour of NTS by HEC in 2003."

He however, conceded that no notification of HEC ordinance was issued in this regard.

The Lahore High Court has set May 11 as the next hearing in which HEC has been asked to submit detailed report on each and every question raised by the court.

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Fake degree scam hits Bahria University
Islamabad: Bahria University Islamabad has been rocked by another scandal as its two foreign qualified faculty members have been caught with fake degrees.

Management of the university has terminated both and contacted Higher Education Commission (HEC) to guide the varsity to take further action against the faculty members.

On the other hand, the HEC has instructed the university to further tighten their degree verification system to avoid such embarrassing incidents in future, learnt reliably.

According to sources, of the two faculty members, one claimed to have done his masters from a university in the United Kingdom (UK) while the other claimed to have done it from the United States (US).

They were allowed to join Bahria University in January this year and were teaching in the faculty of management and sciences. The university, however, had sent their degrees to the respective universities for verification.

Both the universities disowned the faculty members in their written response to the verification requests and letters to this end were received in the last week of April and the first week of May.

On this, the management decided to terminate both faculty members. Sources said that on Tuesday, Deputy Director Student Affairs of Bahria University Ms Sundal Mufti visited the HEC to meet the acting Executive Director (ED) Dr Nasser Ali Khan and updated him about the scam in the university.

The HEC official instructed her to take necessary action against both the faculty members and also advised that university should make its degree verification mechanism more effective and strict.

He also said that degrees of all the employees and faculty members of the university should be verified to eliminate such fake cases.

A faculty member of Bahria University requesting not to be quoted said: "Due to mismanagement, it has become a routine that after every six to eight months some issue raises its head in the university which disturbs the environment of the university.

"Recently, students of the university were disturbed over an issue of the thesis submitted by a student which later turned into a matter of religious freedom and had also affected the reputation of the university".

A student of the university on condition of anonymity said that although the fake degree holders had left, the students were still in a state of shock.

"Moreover, the new teachers who replaced them had their own technique of imparting education and students were finding it hard to adapt", he explained.

Rector Bahria University Vice Admiral (Retired) Shahid Iqbal confirmed that two faculty members were caught with fake degrees and had been terminated.

He said: "I have joined here three months ago and both the faculty members were appointed before my arrival."

He further said it had been decided that a fool proof system of degree verification would be adopted by the university.

"Such persons not only become reason of embarrassment for universities but also pose the students with a serious problem by wasting their precious time.

"It has been decided that degree verification system will be upgraded and advance techniques will be used in future," he said.

Acting ED HEC Nasser Ali Khan said that officials of Bahria University had come to him to discuss the issue. "HEC will show zero tolerance in such cases," he assured.

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QAU students boycott classes, stage sit-in
Islamabad: The students of Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) in a large number boycotted the classes and staged a sit-in outside the administrative block on Wednesday to show solidarity with the 11 students who had been expelled by the varsity management for disrupting a conference on April 27.

The protesters were of the view that the administration was trying to intimidate the students by using different tactics. They said that the varsity management could not silence the students' voice as they had the right to assemble, voice their demands and hold peaceful protests.

A student leader Ishtiaq Qureshi said: "Most of their fellows including Najeebullah, Hunain Tariq, Hamid Jatt and others who have been expelled from the university are the brilliant students and the teachers know them well."

"The varsity management got the hostels vacated on April 27 and most of the students went to their homes. The disciplinary committee sent the messages to the students at
8:00pm that they should appear before the committee next day at 9:00am. The students who have gone to Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), Balochistan and Sindh could not comply with the orders," he said.

Another student leader Hamid Riaz said: "Afterwards, the management sent letters to the houses of the students blaming that they are not studying and spoiling the varsity environment by holding protest demonstrations."

He said: "We will take all peaceful and legal steps to protect our rights. We have come here for study and have no other agenda."

The unrest on the QAU campus began on April 27 when some students disrupted the proceedings of International Social Science Conference by pelting stones at the venue.

Afterwards, the administration immediately evicted all the students from the hostels and closed the university for one week. Meanwhile, the 11 students who are office-bearers of the Seraiki, Balochi, Pashtun, Punjabi, Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and Sindhi councils were sent expulsion letters.On April 27, the hostel residents held a protest against insufficient water supply to the hostels and unhygienic conditions at the canteen.

When the university was reopened on Monday last, the students in the hostels were forced to sign an 'affidavit' saying that they would not indulge in any political activity within the campus. However, the students started wearing black armbands during their classes and eventually boycotted the classes on Wednesday showing solidarity with their expelled fellows.

After almost an hour, protesting students dispersed peacefully but no member of the administration came there to hold negotiations with them.

A QAU official requesting not to be quoted said that the students had made a routine to boycott the classes and disturb the educational activities so it had been decided to take strict action against them.

Spokesman for the university said that the management was continuously issuing show-cause notices to the students but none of them bothered to appear before the disciplinary committee so it was decided to expel those against whom the committee had concrete proofs while 14 others were fined.

The student leaders said that the management had been running the university just like a military academy.

While talking to this reporter, QAU Vice Chancellor Masoom Yasinzai said that the expelled students should apply to the appellate committee of the university syndicate for their reinstatement as the protests could serve no purpose in this regard. Dawn

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For excellence in higher education
Lahore: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) and British Council have joined hands to introduce two educational programmes – an online mentoring programme and establishment of Institute of Leadership Education in universities across Pakistan.

A high-profile meeting of vice chancellors, deans and representatives of various universities, Punjab University (PU) Syndicate members and British Council officials was convened at the committee room of Undergraduate Study Centre on Wednesday.

The meeting discussed formation of the online mentoring programme and establishment of Institute of Leadership Education in universities across the country.

PU Vice Chancellor (VC) Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran, former GCU VC Prof Dr Khalid Aftab, UET VC Lt Gen (r) Muhammad Akram, British Council consultant from UK Hank William, PU Registrar Prof Dr Khan Raas Masood, Member Syndicate Prof Dr Shaukat Ali, PUCIT Principal Prof Dr Mansoor Sarwar, heads of various PU departments, UVAS and UET were present on the occasion.

The aim of Institute of Leadership Education would be to support excellence in higher education sector's leadership as well as in the governance and management of institutions of higher education. The British Council will provide expertise and technical support in establishment of the institute, which would be a consortium of three universities in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi.

Addressing the meeting, PU VC Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran said that universities should be run by teachers and there was a dire need of training senior faculty members working on administrative posts.

He said that PU had already set up a committee for launching of formal training programmes for teachers holding managerial positions, adding that programmes for non-teaching staff would also be introduced. He thanked the British Council for realising the importance of the programme and aiding in its establishment.

UET Vice Chancellor Lt Gen (r) Muhammad Akram said that PU had potential and the main centre of Institute of Leadership Education should be set up at PU.

British Council Consultant Hank William said they would mentor structure for the programme and provide formal training to teachers.

The participants hailed review of universities' legislations after a period of five years. They identified the different types of leadership at universities and threw light on the importance of leadership qualities.

UVAS Registrar Dr Muhammad Afzal said universities faced problems especially in dealing with the Punjab government departments.

Another UVAS official said his university needed representation in committees for which they needed help from PU and Higher Education Commission (HEC), especially in connection with faculty development. Daily times

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Fake suptd caught at exam centre
Lahore: The Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) controller of examinations on Wednesday caught red-handed a fake superintendent at a centre set up for intermediate annual examination for 2012.

Intermediate Part-II physics paper was in the session. Controller of Examinations Anwar Farooq paid a surprise visit to the Centre L-64 (Punjab College of Commerce for Women, Noon Avenue, Muslim Town) and found that centre superintendent Sana Khan was performing her duty. During investigation, she could not prove herself as a genuine eligible teacher.

It was revealed that Sana Khan had submitted a fake duty proforma with the connivance of board clerk Mansoor Ajmal. On account of forgery, the controller of examinations lodged an FIR against the accused clerk with the Muslim Town police.

BISE Chairman Nasrullah Virk suspended the clerk from service and constituted a two-member committee comprising board members Chaudhry Muhammad Iqbal and Chaudhry Rafaqat Ali. The committee has been asked to submit a report at the earliest. Dawn

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PU seminar
Lahore: The Punjab University Department of Urdu is organizing a one-day national seminar on the renowned poets Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Meera Ji on the Old Campus today (Thursday) at 10am.

According to a press release, Vice-Chancellor Mujahid Kamran will preside over the seminar while Dean Faculty of Oriental Learning Hafiz Mahmood Akhtar, Principal Oriental College Mazhar Moeen, Chairman Urdu Department Fakhrul Haq Noori, Abid Hasan Minto, Fateh Muhammad Malik, Intezar Hussain and other renowned personalities will participate in the event.

Meeting: A meeting of vice chancellors, deans and representatives of various universities, PU Syndicate members and British Council officials was held at PU here on Wednesday to discuss online mentoring programme and establishment of Institute of Leadership Education in Pakistani varsities.

A press release said British Council will provide expertise and technical support for setting up the Institute of Leadership Education.

The aim of the institute is to support excellence in higher education sector's leadership as well as in the governance and management of institutions of higher education.

PU VC said varsities should be run by teachers. He said PU already set up a committee for this.

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UHS result
Lahore: The University of Health Sciences (UHS) has announced result of first professional BSc nursing annual examination 2011. A press release here on Wednesday said a total of 85 candidates from four affiliated nursing institutes appeared in the exams of BSc nursing 2-year programme. Out of these, 56 passed while 28 could not get through. The pass percentage remained 66.66 per cent.

IJT stages demo against loadshedding
Lahore: The Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT), Punjab University Chapter, on Wednesday staged a protest demonstration over unannounced and long hours' loadshedding on the varsity premises and also chanted slogans against the PU administration and PPP government. The IJT activists burnt tyres and staged a sit-in on both sides of the canal for almost two hours. The IJT activists regretted that the PU administration and PPP led-federal government was bent upon destroying the future of youth, as students had to live in hell-like situation on varsity premises during the worst loadshedding.

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HEC holds workshop
Islamabad: Higher Education Commission (HEC) organised an awareness workshop entitled 'University Advancement-Concept, Themes and Practices' at its head office.

Speaking at the inaugural session, HEC Chairman Dr. Javaid Laghari said that the education is the top priority for the people all over the world. "Many developing nations are spending almost 4% of their GDP on education while in Pakistan this ratio is very low. Unfortunately, due to economic conditions of the country, the money for higher education is drying out. Now it's very important for universities to take steps for their financial sustainability, expansion and growth," he said.

The HEC chairperson said that the universities are required to project their achievements so that government and society may be able to know the true dynamics of the money spent on higher education.

Dr. Nasser Ali Khan, HEC Member (Operations and Planning), said that it is essential for the universities to inform community, government and society at large regarding their achievements. "Comprehensive marketing and communication strategies are required to be developed and universities need to allocate sufficient budget for marketing and communication activities," he said.

Earlier, Dr. Riaz Hussain Qureshi, Adviser (Human Resource Development) HEC, in his welcome address, informed the participants that HEC in partnership with USAID is running a university advancement programme in eleven institutions.

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AIOU allocates funds for CID
Islamabad: The Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) has allocated necessary funds for upgrading its newly established department - Centre for Instructional Design (CID)- to help students learn through state-of-the-art designing system.

AIOU Vice Chancellor Professor Dr. Nazir Ahmed Sangi, while addressing a farewell party hosted by academicians and staff members of CID in honour of Faculty of Education Dean Professor Dr. Javed Iqbal on his retirement, said that the centre will serve as a model to educate students through electronic and advanced communication system.

He announced that the AIOU will also give top

priority to train its academic staff that will help them

educate students in a better way.

Dr. Nazir Ahmed Sangi said that value-added and job-oriented education is the main focus of the university. All relevant departments of the AIOU are being equipped with latest equipment and computer software so that they could effectively address problems being faced by students in enhancing their knowledge and professional skills in various disciplines, he added.

Dr. Sangi said that 300 model study centres would be established in remote parts of the country that would be fully equipped with state-of-the-art facilities.

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World cultures showcased at BSS
Rawalpindi: An art exhibition, showcasing different cultures of the world, was held at the Beaconhouse School System (BSS) Kindergarten Branch, Hali Road, Westridge-I, on Monday.

Principal Seemi Khawar said that the show was an annual event and teachers and students worked for three weeks to produce outstanding displays of cultures after carrying out research and making relevant materials by hand and dressing up children for their designated themes.

Parents were invited to witness displays made by students and teachers. They were overwhelmed to see their little kids sharing information regarding different cultures of the world with confidence.

The Kindergarten children presented the Mughal culture, in which they had presented Taj Mahal, thrones, artefacts, Mughal architecture motifs and ceramics. All students were attired in Mughal dresses complete with thrones and pearl jewellery.

The school library was transformed into Africa and its culture. The African symbols of cheetah and tiger were used to make different items in addition to wooden statues of animals, traditional furniture and collage of different animals on board. Students had also made colourful bangles and coasters on African themes.

Students also presented Greek civilisation in which they presented Greek coins and Greek symbols. Greek pottery and caricatures were also painted by students. Greek warriors and Greek Coliseum replica was made to provide information regarding the Greek culture. A big war boat was also made by students.

Another class of KG depicted Egyptian culture depicting mummies, pottery, symbols, face masks, marble pieces, weapons and jewellery. A student was dressed like Cleopatra, the Egyptian queen.

Students also depicted Chinese culture complete with dancing dragons, cuisine, screens, furniture and toys symbolic to China.

Students of the Class II presented Christianity in their class in which they depicted Halloween and Christmas. Another section of Class II presented Punjab culture in which a 'Chaudhry' was sitting on a charpoy along with his wife.

The 'Colours of Basant' were splattered in the classroom in which Punjab's culinary delights - 'Makai ki Roti,' Sarson ka Saag' and 'Lassi' were served to guests.

Students of the Class II presented Australia in which paintings of aboriginals (natives of Australia-Daens) were replicated. Students had used geometrical patterns to make paintings. Shanzel, their teacher, also wrote poetry on the aboriginal art. The children made T-shirts, jewellery and flutes that are used only by male tribe of Daens.

Students of the Class II showcased the cultures of Sindh, England, Saudi Arabia and Egypt replicating them with the minutest details.

The Indian culture was showcased with Warli Art, Rangoli, Elephant Festival and good luck Kathakali masks. The Class I also depicted Chinese, Egyptian, Sri Lankan, Japanese, British and Islamic cultures.

One of the parents, while talking to this scribe, said that her daughter was so excited to learn about the Japanese culture that since yesterday she's bowing her head to say 'hello' to everyone. "It is a good activity for kids as they search the web and books to get information about different cultures of the world.

Their confidence level increases as they speak in front of so many parents and memorise their lines with so much fluency," she said. The news

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