Teachers speak up against election duty
Lahore, May 14: Teachers have openly spoken about the ordeal of doing election duty. "We have passed through terrible times during the last 15 days, waiting at training sessions, collecting materials and conducting polling," said Punjab Teachers Union (PTU) central president Sajjad Akbar Kazmi.
Teachers say they were made to suspend their basic duty of teaching since April 1 owing to election duties.
Talking about teachers' ordeal, PTU deputy general secretary Rana Liaquat said the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) failed to develop a system to conduct the election smoothly. He said the ECP deputed teachers, especially women teachers, 40 to 50 kilometres away from their houses. There were many instances that teachers were deputed at two or three places and were admonished by ECP officials if they did not reach there. Liaquat said ECP officials told the teachers to leave various stations and reach where they were being asked to report. "Teachers faced mental stress and some have fallen sick," he said.
At training sessions, teachers said they had to wait for long hours and on May 1 they were asked to report at 10am and were relieved at around 4pm, while only one hour was properly used.
A college teacher, who acted as a presiding officer, said the ECP
management was flawed because teachers' duties were changed every
alternate day before the election.
Besides a poor mechanism for collection of material and transport to polling stations, the presiding officer said election material was highly substandard, printing was third class and serial numbers were randomly placed. "Such a situation created problems for presiding officers because they were supposed to submit statements of ballot account," he added.
On election day, the college teacher said, available rooms were too small to accommodate voter rush and the polling staff could not find even few minutes to take water, what to say of lunch.
The presiding officer said the ECP needed to reform the general election activity and it must take suggestions from the staff, which performed election duties all over the country.
The PTU president and deputy general secretary demanded that the ECP engage other departments' officials and depute teachers only to fill the gaps. "Teachers were busy in the Universal Primary Education survey, admissions, examination duties and finally election duty for the past one-and-a-half-month. Now, asking for cent per cent results from teachers will be too much," Liaquat noted.
Meanwhile, he condemned PTI leader Ibrarul Haq for allegedly using derogatory language against teachers at a protest demonstration against rigging on Ghazi Road.
HEC's power to verify degrees withdrawn
Islamabad: Friction between politicians and the Higher Education Commission (HEC) is likely to emerge after the Cabinet Division withdrew HEC's power to verify degrees and handed them over to the newly established Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination (MNHSRC).
However, Chairman HEC Dr. Javaid R. Laghari on Monday wrote a letter to the Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso stating that the notification regarding the transfer of power was against the rules and contempt of the Supreme Court orders.
Therefore, the HEC would continue verifying degrees.
Tension between politicians and HEC rose after the Supreme Court ordered in June 2010 to verify degrees of all parliamentarians and members of the provincial assemblies.
Some politicians tried to obtain no objection certificates (NOC) without verification of their degrees, but the HEC refused to do so.
Resultantly, politicians including Jamshed Dasti had to resign and former minister for education Sheikh Waqas Akram preferred not to participate in the elections after he was declared a fake degree holder.
According to the notification dated 9th May 2011 and signed by the Deputy Secretary MNHSRC Saleem Khan (available with Dawn), the subjects regarding standards of higher education and external examination including equivalence of degree have been transferred to the MNHSRC. The ministry has been instructed to transfer all relevant records from the HEC to its office.
An officer of HEC, requesting anonymity, said the government had established HEC as an autonomous organisation with the Prime Minister as its controlling authority.
In view of its self-governing status, the HEC was neither an attached department nor a subordinate office of any ministry or division.
"Three times between 2010 and 2012, attempts were made to put HEC under a ministry, but twice the Supreme Court and once the Sindh High Court assured the autonomy of HEC. In a recent attempt, powers of degree verification and status of the degree awarding institutes have been withdrawn from HEC," he said.
"Now, the HEC can neither verify degrees nor prevent any institution which does not meet the standards from providing degrees. This would allow fake degree holders to get their degrees cleared from the new ministry," he said.
"On April 12, 2011, the Supreme Court of Pakistan had clearly directed that the HEC shall continue discharging its functions and duties as it has in the past unless a fresh legislation is promulgated," he said.
When contacted, Chairman HEC said he had come to know about the notification on Monday, and on the same day, had written a letter to the premier stating the notification was a clear violation of the rules.
"My meeting is already scheduled with the PM on May 20. I will also inform him about the previous attempts of disturbing the autonomy of HEC and will request him to instruct withdrawal of all notifications," he said.
Mr Laghari added that HEC would continue verifying degrees, and only an act by the Parliament could prevent HEC from doing so.
Former Chairman HEC Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman said the caretaker government had no right to harm the autonomy of HEC. "The cabinet division's notification is illegal and the secretary cabinet should be sent to jail," he said.
He added that 35 politicians who had failed to verify their degrees had been allowed to contest the elections and they knew their degrees would not be verified by the HEC.
"Therefore, they (politicians) want to verify their degrees from ministries. The autonomy of HEC is protected and all notifications regarding HEC are illegal," he said.
Legal expert Justice (Retired) Tariq Mehmood said that although he did not agree with General Pervez Musharraf's decision which only allowed degree holders to contest elections, the law should be implemented in its true letter and spirit.
"The bureaucracy should start obeying the law because otherwise we will collapse as a nation. I am getting a similar news regarding elections, which shows transparency is nowhere," he said. Dawn
AIOU to set up science laboratories in its countrywide campuses
Islamabad: Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) will set up science laboratories in all its regional campuses around the country and state-of-the-art laboratory equipment will be provided to ensure equal access to quality education and promote science education in the country.
This was stated by the AIOU Vice-Chancellor Dr Nazir Ahmed Sangi, while addressing the opening session of the weeklong faculty development workshop on "physics equipments".
The workshop has been arranged by science department in collaboration with HEC.
Senior faculty members from public and private Universities and post-graduate colleges across the country were attending the training workshop.
For setting up science laboratories at regions, the vice chancellor has constituted a three-member committee comprising on the Faculty of Social Sciences Dean Prof Dr Rashid A Naeem, Faculty of Science Dean Prof Dr Nowshshad Khan and the Department of Physics Chairman Prof Dr Syed Zafar Ilyas to chalk out the ways, means and plan for the purpose.
Addressing the function, the VC said that books and laboratories should remain available for the learners.
Dr Sangi said that AIOU has the country's best science laboratory at its main campus wherein all needed state-of-the-art equipment has been provided and professionally efficient laboratory technicians are working there
AIOU will soon set up a science club to involve and encourage youth for promotion of science and technology in the country and the club will work under the name of 'Science for the Society' on country-wide basis.
Under the scheme, the students of AIOU and other educational institutions will be invited to present their projects that could be useful in resolving issues.
"AIOU is providing quality education to the masses across the country, mainly in the neglected and far-flung regions. New campuses and study centres are being set up and the university is providing video-conferencing facilities to the students of remote areas," he added.
Dr Sangi said about 100,000 open schools will be set up across the country to educate those dropout male and female students who could not continue their study due to financial or social reasons. At the first stage, one million students will be educated till Matric at their door-step. Meanwhile, Department of Physics Chairman Prof Dr Syed Zafar Ilyas, and Faculty of Science Dean Prof Dr Nowshad Khan also addressed the opening session of the weeklong faculty development workshop on physics equipments. online