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Acedamic activities resumption in Punjab educational institutions

Resumption of educational activities in Punjab
Lahore, Oct 25: The Punjab government has decided to allow educational activities in all those educational institutions from Monday, which have completed their security arrangements according to the conditions prescribed by the government.

This was decided at a high level meeting which was chaired by Senior Advisor Sardar Zulfiqar Ali Khan Khosa, Provincial Minister for Law Rana Sanaullah Khan, Chairman Taskforce Colonel (r) Shuja Khanzada, Advisor to CM Jehanzeb Barki, MNA Khawaja Saad Rafique, MPAs, Chief Secretary, IG Police Punjab and other senior officers.

The meeting announced that all those educational institutions, which had completed the required security arrangements, would be opened from Monday (tomorrow). The meeting also decided that heads of the educational institutions, concerned SPs and administrative authorities would jointly verify the compliance of security arrangements by the educational institutions and they would be responsible for these arrangements. The meeting further decided to take strict notice of non-implementation of security arrangements laid down by the government by some educational institutions.

According to sources, the decision has also been taken because of the security measures adopted by the educational institutions. On the other hand, the government had warned those institutions failing to arrange security, would not be allowed to resume activities.

The recommended security measures include posting of guards in uniform and with licensed arms at the entrance, closure of rear entry points, installation of walk through gates, metal detectors and wearing of uniform and display of identity cards by students as well as the teachers.

On the other hand, Governor Punjab in his capacity as chancellor of all the public varsities in the province had also directed all universities to reopen from Monday, saying there should not be any security lapse.

In this regard, Secretary Schools Muhammad Aslam said during the checking, both the government and private schools would be treated equally, and only those institutions would be allowed to reopen where satisfactory security arrangements had been made under intimation to the police circle concerned.

All the universities, while taking other steps to beef up security, would not allow anybody to enter the premises without a security check and identity cards.

The Punjab University has band the entry of all vehicles in its premises, while students' vehicles have also been banned. It has fortified the check-posts at the entry points, teaching departments and the hostels.

Meanwhile, the government has expressed its inability to provide security personnel to the institutions, but will keep close liaison on the matter.

According to credible reports, private schools have made no worthwhile security arrangements yet despite the fact the instructions by the government are not new, as it is impressing upon the administration of private institutions to make foolproof arrangement for the past two years, but without any real effect.

Most of the schools and colleges demand that the government should deploy security personnel itself. Moreover, hundreds of schools even do not have any boundary wall. The nation

Private schools reluctant to spend on security
Lahore: The attendance in public and private schools of provincial capital was not more than 50 per cent before last Tuesday's terror attack on International Islamic University Islamabad that led to closure of campuses in Punjab for indefinite period.

Now the educational institutions, both public and private, have been directed by the provincial government to chalk out comprehensive plans for the security of their students. The government has ensured the institutions' administrations that it will help check all buildings and open places near these institutions but they will have to take measures like hiring a good number of guards and raise the boundary walls of their campuses to deal with the menace.

Ironically, a majority of these institutions, despite the government directions, could not take such security measures during the summer vacation.

The private schools association has urged the government to provide them security as they cannot manage it on their own. But, the government, which does not have resources to provide security to a large number of schools, has questioned their administrations as why they cannot spend a few bucks on a vital need despite having huge earnings.

The private schools, especially those having chains allover the province, are charging exorbitant fees but are reluctant to hire a few more security guards, install CCTV cameras and raise the boundary walls of their campuses.

"This mind set (of schools administrations) should change and they must ensure the safety of their students first," says an education department official. "Closure of the campuses was the last option for the government as we cannot compromise students' security."

Following three terror attacks in Lahore on Oct 15, the administrations of a number of schools received 'prank' calls that further added to the fears of the parents about the safety of their children. Many of them had stopped sending their wards to schools.

"Had we not ordered closure of the campuses the number of students attending schools would have further declined after the attack on IIUI," the official says. Earlier it was decided the campuses which had taken adequate security measures according to government directions would be allowed to reopen before those still struggling to do so, he adds.

All the public and private varsities in the province have been directed to establish independent security departments headed by a chief security officer. The CSOs and security guards should be ex-army men, preferably, and recruitments should be made as early as possible.

Several non-governmental organisations and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan have also asked the government to open educational institutions at the earliest to defeat terrorists' foul designs of paralysing normal life.

The All Pakistan Private Schools Association has also requested the government to reopen the schools as early as possible.

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College teachers cry in wilderness for promotion
Sahiwal: Disappointed at the poor service structure, non-implementation of a four-tier promotion formula and fresh contract appointments, college teachers see the Punjab government's celebrations on the World Teacher's Day as a cosmetic and face-saving exercise.

According to the data available with the provincial government, about 17,000 teachers are serving in 480 public colleges of Punjab. They are serving as lecturers, assistant professors, associate professors and professors in grades 17 to 20. College teachers' promotion is very slow as compared to school and university teachers'.

An average provincial or federal government employee inducted in grade 17 can easily get four-step promotion in his/her 30-35-year career. "These promotions are mostly done automatically," says Prof Asif Tanveer, a member of the provincial committee of Ittehad-i-Asatza. But this is not the case with college teachers' promotion.

A college teacher, who starts his/her career from grade 17, hardly goes one step up in his/her 30-35-year service. "The reason is that teachers' promotion is not linked to the four-tier formula, which means four-step time bound promotion from grade 17 to 20," says MAO College's Prof Arif, who is executive member of Ittehad-i-Asatza. In the absence of a four-tier time scale formula for teachers' promotion, teachers recruited in grade 17 hardly reach grade 18 (assistant professor) after 21 years of service. "Mostly, teachers retire in grade 18 after spending 30 years in the education department," says Prof Bari Dolla, an activist of Tanzeem-i-Asatza in Sahiwal.

During his visit to various colleges, this correspondent met many teachers who have not been promoted even after 19-20 years of service as lecturers. Urdu teacher Rao Umer Daraz and Chemistry teacher Mr. Jamil are two of thousands of such teachers in Punjab.

"We have no hope of reaching grade 19 or 20, as we will retire after three years," say Muhammad Ashraf and Mr Zubair from Physics Department. They spent 17-18 years as lecturers and they still have no idea about their promotion. Prof Yousaf Sheikh, who teaches political science at a college in Khanewal, says the 1987 batch of lecturers has yet to be promoted.

It's learnt that about 40 per cent of college teachers are serving as lecturers for the last 15 to 17 years and they have no promotion in sight within next four to five years.

Prof Rana Aslam from Lahore's Diyal Singh College says the Punjab government has not given the college teachers the promotion announced by former president Pervez Musharraf. "University teachers were promoted under the same order, but college teachers were not," he said.

Hafiz Khaliq, representative of Punjab Professors and Lecturers Association, criticises the Punjab government's policy on college teachers' promotion and its linking with performance. "It's an irony that the Punjab government is harping on the performance based evaluation without offering college teachers good salary and peaceful and politics-free academic atmosphere."

Prof Arif said university teachers were awarded scholarships by the Higher Education Commission, but not a single PhD scholarship programme was designed both by the provincial or federal government for college teachers in the last 30 years.

"Our acquaintances who joined schools or universities are now in grade 19 or 20, but we are still in grade 17," says Dr Mirza Moeen, a lecturer from the Government College, Sahiwal. In contrast with Punjab, Balochistan's Education Department has accepted college teachers' demand and gave them the four-tier time scale promotion system. Punjab, Sindh and NWFP have yet to look into the problems related to teachers' promotion.

Prof Tanveer, a representative of Balochistan Professors and Lecturers Association, told this correspondent from Quetta that now college lecturers would become assistant professors after seven years of service, associate professors after 14 years of service and professors after 19 years of service. Dawn

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