Fatima Jinnah College & Zindagi trust
Students await Zindagi as college held hostage
|Karachi, Nov 17: The teachers of Sindh Madrassa Board (SMB) Fatima Jinnah
Government Girls College are pressurizing the students to protest against
Zindagi Trust for adopting their college, it was reliably learnt. Students
at the college seem suitable impressed at the atmosphere in which the school
section has been operating since the past year.
The SMB School was handed over
to the Zindagi Trust and the Book Group under the Adopt-A-School program. Both
NGOs are currently involved in the education sector, and were granted permission
through a government notification issued last year. Many express the hope that
one day their college will also be made part of the experiment taking place at
the SMB School. However, their hopes have thus far been dashed due to a
controversy that has erupted between stakeholders, it was learnt.
The experiment with the school was a resounding success. The new
management was not only able to motivate students and teachers but was also
successful in attracting private and public funding to drastically improve the
educational experience of the 2,400 students who study in the facility.
Their achievement prompted the Sindh Government to issue another
notification to the Trust to adopt the college situated in the same building.
However, this seemed a recipe for disaster as teachers and groups with vested
interests protested the move.
The controversy started after students and
teachers of Rana Liaquat Ali Khan Government College of Home Economics and
Khatoon-e-Pakistan Government Girls College held consecutive protests in
September against the Sindh Government for issuing a third notification for
handing over the management of these colleges to the Zindagi Trust. The teachers
and students of both these colleges were backed by the Sindh Professors and
Lecturers Association (SPLA), which put immense pressure on the government and
the notification was withdrawn the next day.
Following this development,
the teachers of SMB Fatima Jinnah Girls College also started agitating against
handing over the management of their college to the Zindagi Trust. The principal
and the teachers of the SMB College, who had remained silent until the protests
by teachers of the other two government colleges in September, contested that if
the third notification was withdrawn, the second notification could also be
Since then, the Zindagi Trust has been facing stiff
resistance from the college staff as several protests were held against them.
Contrary to the claims of the college staff, if the SMB school and college are
visited, an entirely different picture emerges.
The first obvious change
is the school building. The Zindagi Trust and its partners have not only changed
the infrastructure but have also made several positive academic changes. They
have introduced books currently being taught in premier schools across the city.
They have also engaged volunteers from top schools of the city to train school
teachers for teaching these new books. Similarly, they have worked hard on
maintaining discipline and punctuality among teachers, as the entire staff has
to now report on time and their attendance is marked without fear or favour.
During a single year alone, the school has been transformed into a model
school that can be compared with the top schools of the city. Facilities
installed in the school are modern. There is an advanced computer lab with
latest machines and a fulltime network support system. A state of the art
library has been built and provided with the best possible collection of books.
A dispensary has also been set up, and a full time doctor is employed.
Similarly, an attractive art room, a big play ground with basket ball courts,
24-hour security guards and a stand-by power generator to deal with power
outages have all been constructed and installed. There is also a modern air
conditioned conference room with projector for teachers while comfortable staff
rooms have also been built for them. There is also a day care system for
teachers where they can drop off their infants without worrying, and can thus
concentrate on teaching. Moreover, a professional janitorial staff cleans the
entire campus, including bathrooms, classrooms, corridors and school grounds.
In terms of academics, the new school system has fixed the class size at
40 so that each student can be given proper attention. Similarly, for practical
classes of grade IX and X, groups of 10 students each have been made so that
students can be attended to properly. To ensure that students are enrolled in
time for a full academic year, a system of deadlines has also been set. Another
significant change to avoid learning by rote is they do not take annual exams
from junior classes but take monthly assessments. Given the changes that have
taken place in SMB School since it was adopted, the school now promises to be
one of the best public schools in the city. These phenomenal changes at a
government school inspired many people to adopt the same model of school to
other areas of the country. Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif during his visit to the
school said that he would replicate the experiment in Punjab. Sindh Home
Minister Zulfiqar Mirza was so inspired with this project that he requested
Zindagi Trust and Book Group to launch a project in his home area of Badin.
Additionally, the local councillor and town nazim also admitted their children
in SMB School after they were convinced that their children's futures would be
bright at this school.
'Our teachers would fail us in practical exams'
Karachi: Different groups of students, from the intermediate and degree
sections of the college, revealed interesting facts. Students have disclosed
that they are been pressurized by their teachers for protesting against Zindagi
Trust and Book Group.
A group of three college students from class XI
called on Akbar Khan, the supervisor of the project, and told him that they were
being pressurized by their teachers. "Our teachers are forcing us to participate
in the protest against the trust else they would fail us in practical exams",
one of them said.
Another group of four BSc students also visited Khan
and asked him to explain why Shehzad Roy abused their teachers. In reply, the
students were given a presentation that convinced them that their teachers were
encouraging them to protest against Zindagi Trust and Book Group to stop these
NGOs from adopting their college.
When asked if college teachers were
using students for their personal interests, the principal of the college denied
such an impression. She claimed said that Roy was provoking college students
against their teachers. She said that Roy bypassed her to forcibly enter a class
and provoked the girls to support him for his project. She also said that she
doesn't want Roy to interfere in college matters and said they wanted the
government to withdraw the notification that allows Zindagi Trust to adopt
college management. Regarding allegations placed upon Roy, Akbar Khan said that
college teachers provoke and pressurize students against Roy and his project but
put all the blame on others.
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International Students' Day today
Karachi: The International Students' Day (ISD) is being celebrated all
over the world on Monday (today) with the theme of "Connecting Cultures".
The students, and in many cases foreign universities, take this
opportunity to help the international students come together and allow a
meaningful interaction among them. In Pakistan, surprisingly, most students and
teachers are unaware of such a day and it passes unnoticed.
International Students' Council (ISC) declared November 17 as the ISD in London
in 1941. It was after this declaration that the International Union of Students
(IUS) was founded as majority of students realised that they were an important
part of society.
The students and teachers of the university or colleges
were mostly unaware of the day and expressed their surprise that such a day
existed at all. Vice-Chancellor of the Federal Urdu University for Arts, Science
& Technology (FUUAST), Dr Muhammad Qaisar, did not know about the day and
said that it was surprising that an important day like this passed unobserved by
the students and the teachers.
Dr Iftikhar Imam Naqvi, former Dean,
Faculty of Science, KU, had heard about the day while he was abroad. He said
that the day should be a golden opportunity to cement ties between the teachers
and the students. "We are terrified people. Students are afraid of teachers and
the teachers are wary of students' behaviour. It is really disgustings."
Dean, Faculty of Science, Dr Shahana Urooj Kazmi, was also oblivious to
the presence of such a day but thought it could be a good idea if the university
celebrated the day to allow a platform to the students and teachers to come
Waqas Kyani, a final year student of the Mass Communication at
FUUAST had no knowledge of the day but said that it might have been celebrated
if the student unions were functioning in the university. "Students are in a
state of uncertainty without the presence of (student) unions. This is the
reason common students want to join some student party to have an umbrella on
his head". Madiha Ejaz from the Department of Education, KU, said that the
university administration was too inert to think of anything except acquiring
maximum facilities to them.
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Federal Urdu University VC denies use of Official Secrets Act
Karachi: Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology (FUUAST)
Vice Chancellor (VC) Dr Muhammad Qaisar has denied allegations that the
university was using the Official Secrets Act (OSA) to conceal facts from the
The allegations were made after sources revealed that FUUAST Registrar, Qamrul Haque wrote a letter to the deans of faculties and
chairpersons of all departments directing them to refrain from providing news to
electronic or print media, or any other organisation or person not connected
with the university. The registrar had invoked the OSA 1923 section 5 and Code
of Conduct for Officials 1964 rule number 18 that forbids providing official
documents or information to unauthorised persons.
The issuance of the
letters had sent shock waves among students, teachers and the general public who
perceived it as a threat to their constitutional rights for free dispensing of
information. The general reaction, apart from dismay and anger, was the concern
that the university administration was trying to conceal their acts of undoing
actions which might be harming the university.
Dr Qaisar said that the
reason for issuing such a letter was that teaching and non-teaching staff had
made it their habit to write or talk to the media about their grievances, many
of them subjective. "Some teachers would go to the offices of certain newspapers
and sit there for hours talking about university affairs. Many non-teaching
staff would do the same", the VC elaborated.
The registrar lamented the
culture of backbiting in the university and was pained that teachers or staff
were using the university as a punching bag instead of performing their duties.
"Some teachers are fond of interaction with the media for their own projection.
The university might not have any objection to their zeal for personal
advancement but we object to dragging the university's name into the mire", he
It may be of some interest that some well-wishers of the
university, who are well known in the city, have expressed their apprehension
that some teachers and staff are in cahoots with those who want to move the
university to Islamabad. Towards that end, they are spreading disinformation
about the university and are trying to prove that the university was a
non-starter as it had not achieved any educational laurels in the last five
The Registrar said that irresponsible behaviour of
university teachers and staff was against the Senate decision issued in a
meeting held in Islamabad on April 10, 2007, according to which only the
spokesperson of the university (nominated by the VC) could talk to the media or
issue press statements. The decision had stipulated corrective measures against
offenders, including departmental action.
A professor associated with
the university, on the condition of anonymity, confided that some teachers are
demanding that teachers hired after the establishment of the university should
be fired and those who were teaching in the Urdu College and have retired,
should be rehired. "It seems that most of the teachers have not come out of the
college culture and their mindset remains embedded in the college culture. These
people are causing irrevocable loss to the university", he elaborated.
The comments from the professor seemed not very far-fetched because many
teachers hardly conform to the minimum standards envisaged for a teacher. During
an informal talk with a professor who holds a doctoral degree, it came as a
surprise when he said, "A teacher's duty is to simply generate knowledge. I am
not responsible for the moral aspect". Such a mindset speaks volumes of the
standard of the teachers, especially their moral side.
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Greenwich University students perform thriller 'Rope'
Karachi: Amateur actors from the Greenwich University, Karachi, re-enacted
Alfred Hitchcock's well-known suspense thriller film "Rope".
play, written by Patrick Hamilton, was performed by the students on stage at the
Financial Trade Centre (FTC) Auditorium to a crowd of quasi-comrades and other
adulators of the cast. Suffice to say much of the crowd had in some way or the
other, a link with the Greenwich University.
The performer, Hassan played
the guest who was 'dead' on time "David Kentley", who is murdered by his two
friends Umer (Brandon Shaw) and Ali Asghar (Phillip Morgan), who share a city
apartment. Brandon and Phillip consider themselves intellectually superior to
David and thus in an attempt immortalise this fact, they submit to treachery,
murdering David aka Hassan.
The organisers had decided to substitute the
names of the original characters with the real names of the cast to facilitate
the acting perhaps.
Brandon and Phillip strangle David after luring him
to their home many hours before the party and then hiding him in an old chest in
plain sight. They then proceed to have a small party, the pretext that Phillip
is going off into the countryside and that the first edition of Hassan's book is
being launched, when in fact it is a celebration for Brandon and Phillip to have
rid of their nemesis.
The guests included David's father Hamza (Mr
Kently), David's fianc» Insia (Janet Walker), their old teacher Dharaj (Rupert
Cadell), the victim's aunt Batool (Mrs Anita Atwater), the rival for Janet's
hand, and Janet's former love interest Faraz (Kenenth Lawrence) and the maid
Sobia (Mrs Wilson).
Having murdered their associate, Umer and Ali choose
to flaunt their arrogance by inviting a group of friends for a party at the
scene of crime, serving the edibles from the tabletop of their victim's grave.
As they grow in confidence about the accomplishment of hiding their
crime in plain sight. As Umer revels in his achievement, dropping hints, Ali
Asghar grows restless as his guilt burns through his throat. Dharaj catches on
and plays the cat and mouse game with Umer to uncover the mystery of the missing
Played out in two acts, the original plot is a nail biting,
on-the-edge-of-the-seat thriller the play was the just opposed. From the immense
restraint shown by the actors on stage the audience threw fits laughter in the
second act as Ali grew restless, frightened with the prospect of Dharaj
discovering the perfect murder of Hassan. However it was more of the guilt
within both Umer and Ali that bubbled out in revealing the crime as the attempts
by Dharaj to unearth the crime were rather tame. The News
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