Pakistan ranks 147th in education

Lahore, Nov 12: A consultative seminar for a comprehensive educational policy was held on Tuesday in which the participants came up with various suggestions for uplift of the provincial education system. Seven different groups, assigned to give recommendations for the educational policy also presented their findings in the seminar.

Speaking on the occasion, School Education Department Secretary Nadeem Ashraf said unfortunately the education sector could not be prioritised in the past.

He said Pakistan was on the 147th position in the Human Development Index (HDI) in education, adding that it was a matter of concern. He said 11 such seminars had already been organised in different parts of the province, adding that the recommendations and proposals coming through such events would be utilised to chalk out a comprehensive educational policy.

The School Education secretary said Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif was giving top priority to education, adding that besides Rs 5 billion for provision of computer labs in over 4,500 schools, Rs 1 billion had been allocated to award performance-based incentives to teachers. He also talked about missing facilities in the government schools.

District Coordination Officer Lahore Sajjad Ahmad Bhutta said the consultative seminar was a meaningful exercise, which would provide a draft policy chapter from Lahore district like other parts of the province.

Presenting recommendations, Prof Dr Hafiz Muhammad Iqbal from the Punjab University's Institute of Education and Research (IER) said it had been recommended that at least 6 to 7 per cent of the GNP should be allocated for education, adding that the provision of missing facilities, including qualified teachers, was also one of the recommendations. He also recommended appointment of at least two teachers in all the primary schools of the province, besides induction of teachers against the vacant posts. He recommended that professional qualifications should also be given preference at the time of recruitment. He also recommended the permanent appointment of teachers.

Representatives from other groups also presented their recommendations. In the end a question-answer session was held in which the participants expressed concerns over different recommendations and put forward their proposals for educational policy. Additional Secretary (Education Reforms) Nadeemur Rehman, Public Instructions (DPI) Secondary Education Director Mian Abdul Haq, Elementary Education DPI Chaudhry Abdul Rasheed, Executive District Officer Education, Lahore, Malik Abdul Rahman and some MPAs and a large number of people from different walks of life, including teachers and educationists, were present on the occasion.

It is pertinent to mention here that according to the invitation extended by the City District Government Lahore (CDGL) to media, the seminar was to be presided over by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif at 1pm. However, neither the CM came to preside over the seminar nor it started on time. A large number of people, especially teachers, both male and female, had arrived before the scheduled time. The seminar, started around 2.30pm when the School Education secretary and DCO arrived. The News

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Three GCUF officials fired for corruption
Faisalabad: The Government College University Faisalabad (GCUF) has sacked two directors and a senior audit officer on corruption charges, says a notification issued on Tuesday.

The administration also sealed the offices of all the sacked officials to prevent any proliferation of records.

Following embezzlement charges levelled by a citizen, identified as Nadeem, against finance director Ghulam Safdar Mian, projects and campus development director Lt Col Muhammad Latif (retired) and senior audit officer Muhammad Yaqoob, the GCUF vice-chancellor formed a four-member inquiry committee on Nov 7.

The committee consisting of Dr A.M. Khalid, Dr Mudassar Ahmed, Dr Haq Nawaz and Education EDO Dr Muhammad Arshad, who is ex-officio member of the university syndicate, found the officials guilty of millions of rupees embezzlement and recommended their terminations.

Vice-chancellor Dr Arif Ali Zaidi heard all the three officials and later sacked them.

Latif had joined the institution in Feb 2007, Safdar in July and Yaqoob in Sept 2007 on special pay packages.

Administrative services director Brig Muhammad Abass (retired) has been given the additional charge of projects and campus development director and EDO Dr Arshad has been given the charge of finance director.

Sources said that Latif requested the VC to permit him to tender his resignation before termination. The VC first agreed, but later backed out when the management asked the sacked official to return the monthly salary he had drawn a couple of days ago.

There were reports that Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) had arrested the sacked officials, however the ACE officials rejected any such move. They, however, confirmed that an inquiry against the sacked officials was underway.

Meanwhile, teachers and students demonstrated on Tuesday to express their solidarity with the vice-chancellor and to persuade him to recall his decision to resign. Dr Zaidi has sent his resignation to the Punjab governor/chancellor expressing his inability to continue his services because of personal problems.

Teachers and students of all disciplines gathered outside vice-chancellor's office and chanted slogans in his favour.

Students have threatened to launch a protest for an indefinite period of time to persuade the vice-chancellor to review his decision. Similarly, the Academic Staff Association (ASA) has announced that all faculty members would tender their resignations jointly if the chancellor accepted Dr Zaidi's resignation.

Addressing a meeting, ASA president Dr Mudassar and others said there would be no office or class work until the government announced the rejection of VC's resignation. They also paid tribute to Dr Zaidi for rendering excellent services for the institution. Dawn

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Persian study centre opens at LCWU
Lahore: The inauguration ceremony of Iranian Study Centre was held at Lahore College for Women University (LCWU) here on Tuesday.

According to a press statement, LCWU vice chancellor Prof Dr Bushra Mateen speaking on the occasion said Persian language could serve as a bridge to bring Pakistan and Iran closer. "This language is the language of our forefathers; we should recognise and preserve it in a way it deserves," she added.

Iranian Culture Centre Director General Abdul Raza Abbassi said Urdu and Persian languages were interlinked. Nadir Baba, upcoming director general of the Iranian Culture Centre appreciated the efforts made by both LCWU and Iranian Culture Centre for strengthening the relationships between the two countries.

He said that the establishment of Iranian Study Centre at LCWU was the step towards bringing the two nations even closer.

The Iranian Study Centre was launching various specialisation courses for both teachers and students. In addition to this, it would facilitate the students with books and technology required for the said courses.

Besides, two students of Persian department would be awarded scholarships by the Iranian Culture Centre.

To gain the knowledge and explore Iranian educational systems, culture and specifically the image of women, a delegation led by LCWU VC comprising deans and faculty members will visit Iran.

Mrs Rafia Shah, Chairperson Persian department offered the inaugurating prayers.

Along with the deans of various faculties, Dr Kauser Jamal Cheema, Mrs Riffat Saqlain, Dr Hammala Khalid, Dr Farhat Saleemi, Ms Rafia Shah and various faculty members were present on the occasion. The News

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School uniforms fall prey to price hike
Lahore: As the weather gets colder, parents of schoolchildren are faced with the added expense of winter school uniforms, which they claim have become victims of the price hike facing the country, despite being made of low quality cloth.

Most city schools have already switched to winter uniforms, which tends to include a blazer inscribed with the school's logo and grey coloured garments. Several parents said that due to the low quality of the cloth used for the uniforms, they were forced to purchase extra sets, which added to the financial burden on them. They claimed that shopkeepers were intentionally selling low quality school uniforms at high prices.

100%: Sheikh Khalid, one such parent, said that it was surprising that the prices of school uniforms had increased to such a great extent. He said that some inflation was expected with the ongoing price hike, but the prices of school uniforms had increased almost 100 percent in just under a year. He said that many people seemed to have noticed this, as he had met several parents who felt the same way. He said that the high prices would not be such an issue if the low quality cloth did not require the parents to buy new uniforms every month.

Similarly, Razia Bano said that school uniforms had become incredibly expensive. She said that she has two children, both of whom go to private schools. The school administrations directed them to purchase their uniforms from a specific store, she said, adding that she was limited by a budget and did not know how she could purchase such expensive uniforms without exceeding it. Parveen Sherazi, a parent of four children, said that it had become very expensive to send children to school as there were numerous expenses that appeared to increase each year. She said that in previous years, she had purchased three sets of winter uniforms for each of her children, but had been forced to cut back to two this year because of the price hike. She said that it was very hard to explain to young children why they weren't getting everything they felt was required for school.

Price hike: Shahbaz, a uniform salesman, admitted that the prices of uniforms had increased but attributed it to the ongoing price hike, saying this was a global phenomenon. He said that his shop sells uniforms of various different schools, adding that the price of cloth has risen, forcing him to increase the prices of the uniforms. He said that several parents had expressed their concern about the issue but nothing could be done to help them.

Relatively low: Yasmeen, a schoolteacher, said that the school administration merely suggests certain shops to purchase their uniform at for the facility of the parents. She said that uniforms were switched at the start of every summer and winter and it was a requirement that could not be waived. She said that the cost of the uniforms was relatively low as compared to the cost of books, stationary, fees and transportation and she did not understand why this was such a great concern. She said that if parents believe they are being cheated at a particular shop, they should shop around and purchase uniforms from shops that offer them better rates and cloth quality. Daily Times

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