Punjab Schoolteachers black day

Teachers to observe 'black day' on 30th
Lahore, Nov 22: The Joint Action Committee of Schoolteachers has announced observing November 30 as a 'black day' which will be followed by besieging of the Punjab Assembly building on December 8 against the apathetic attitude of the government towards problems of the education sector.

According to a press statement on Sunday, the decision was taken during a meeting of the committee which decided that the second phase of the ëRabta Saaz Campaigní will start from Jhelum and Bahawalpur.

The meeting stressed that the government was not showing any interest in educational welfare and reforms. They said rallies and demonstrations would be conducted on the black day and the protests would not stop until the government took concrete steps in the education sector.

The meeting was presided over by Chairman Prof Dr Zahid Ahmed Sheikh and it was attended by Hafiz Abdul Nasir, Prof Tanvir Hussain, Hafiz Ghulam Mohiyyuddin, Rana Sultan Mahmood Akhtar, Iftikhar Ahmed Hashmi, Zarar Ahmed, Atiqurahman Kiyani and others.

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Private schools foil govt bid for regulatory body
Lahore: The powerful private schools mafia has failed the Punjab government's much-hyped policy of establishing a regulatory body for them despite the lapse of two years.

A high-powered committee, comprising educationists, MPAs and private schools representatives, was formed by Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif in late 2008.

Besides reviewing the existing Punjab Private Educational Institutions (Promotion and Regulation) Ordinance 1984, the committee was given the mandate to propose suitable amendments to the ordinance with the view to establishing a standard for infrastructure, teaching staff and syllabi, curriculum and examination system of the private sector schools.

It was also tasked with establishing fee structure of private schools linked to the standard of service and facilities offered by the institutions.

The committee, though after a delay, had given its recommendations. Afterwards, on various occasions, different government officials claimed that the draft regarding the proposed watchdog had been sent to the Law Department. However, nothing more was heard later on and people are still waiting for the regulatory body.

Besides genuine public concerns, the absence of a regulatory body has also been causing problems for the government as at times it seems unable to implement its policies in private sector schools.

Almost every year, private schools across the province lock horns with the government over the schedule of summer vacation while accepting or rejecting grade-5 and grade-8 uniform examinations by the Punjab Examination Commission (PEC) is another issue.

The failure in enforcement of policies is quite evident from the unbridled working of private schools where people are fleeced as much as a private institute can.

The most recent notification of the Schools Education Department, Punjab, regarding resumption of six working days is likely to meet a similar fate of "defiance" as many elite schools generally observe a holiday on Saturday.

It is important to mention here that on the instructions of the federal government, the Punjab government had announced functioning of schools five days a week instead of six days a week as part of the save energy drive. However, the Punjab government has now announced to resume old weekly schedule according to which Saturday will be considered as a working day.

The notification issued by the Schools Department clearly reads: "All public and private schools will remain open for six days in a week from November 22, 2010 and only Sunday will be the weekly holiday."

The stakeholders argue that if the government cannot ensure implementation of its policies and rules in private sector schools why they are made part of notifications.

It is also pertinent to mention here that the Punjab government during the tenure of Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi as chief minister of the province was quite ambitious to introduce a regulatory body for private sector schools. However, this could not happen.

The current Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif also took up the issue quite ambitiously and formed a committee to introduce a regulatory body for private sector schools. Almost two years have passed since the formation of the committee but the proposed controlling authority is still not in sight.

Chairman of Chief Minister's Taskforce on Elementary Education Raja Anwar was quite vocal and active regarding the establishment of the regulatory body for private schools in the beginning. However, it seems he has run out of steam now.

Sources claim that the CM's taskforce chairman has completely focused the Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) ever since he became its chairman.

According to the sources, the issue of great public interest had been put on the backburner as the Punjab government was facing immense pressure from politicians who own big private schools.

The public has been quite critical of unbridled working of private schools over the years. People have been complaining about the absence of government's authority in determining fee structure of private schools, heavy registration fee, mandatory purchase of uniform and stationery from the prescribed stores, annual charges and many other monetary matters.

When contacted, Secretary Schools Aslam Kamboh said he could not tell anything offhand about the proposed regulatory body for private schools. However, he said that any policy which seemed to be disputed could not be introduced at a time when academic session was at the peak.

Answering a question, he said mentioning private sector in notifications was important as almost 96 percent of such institutes followed government policies and academic calendar.

The News could not reach Chairman Taskforce for Elementary Education Raja Anwar for his comments.

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'PEF committed to child rights'
Lahore: Punjab Education Foundation Chairman Raja Muhammad Anwar said his organisation was committed to implementing principles of International Convention on Rights of the Child (ICRC) including the provision of education to all children who could not afford it.

Addressing a function held in connection with Universal Children's Day at a PEF partner school at Bhagbanpura, he said education was the most important fundamental right of every child.

"The PEF is committed to ensuring that every child gets best education free of cost. The PEF has emerged as the best model of public-private partnership in the education sector which was also lauded by the World Bank as a role model project in the South Asian", he claimed.

The function was also addressed by students and teachers who highlighted various dimensions of education with reference to Universal Children's Day. The news

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Iqbal study centre at Mashhad university
Lahore: An Iqbal Study Centre has been set up at the Firdausi University, Mashhad, Iran, to mark 133rd birthday of Allama Muhammad Iqbal, says a press release issued by the Iranian Consulate here on Sunday.

It was formally opened by Pakistan's consular in Mashhad, Qazi Habibur Rehman, in the presence of a large number of faculty members and students. The Firdausi University and the Punjab University had signed an MoU for setting up the centre. Dawn

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