Bailout package for universities ruled out

No fund for HEC: Over 70 VCs threaten to resign
Islamabad, Sept 17: The vice-chancellors of 71 public sector universities have threatened to resign en bloc against the government's refusal to provide fund for higher education.

Federal Minister for Finance Abdul Hafeez Sheikh on Thursday refused to provide funds to the cash-strapped Higher Education Commission. Instead, he asked it to generate its own resources.

Incensed by Mr Sheikh's response, the vice chancellors of 71 public sector universities threatened to resign en bloc. They also outrightly rejected the minister's suggestion to set up a special committee headed by Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Nadeemul Haq to determine the universities' needs, saying in the presence of Higher Education Commission (HEC) there was no need for any committee.

On the special request of HEC Chairman Dr Javed Leghari, the minister held an emergency meeting with the members of vice chancellors committee on the HEC premises. He was also accompanied by Mr Nadeemul Haq.

During the meeting, which lasted for a couple of hours, the minister not only refused to make any financial commitment but also appeared dismissive of the issues raised by vice chancellors of 68 state-run universities present at the meeting, a participant of the meeting said.

At one point after the VCs had spoken about their financial woes, Mr Sheikh told them that the government had more compelling commitments than the higher education sector.

He was equally non-committal when the future of the HEC's scholars studying in foreign universities came under discussion. If the HEC continues to remain short of cash, some 4,000 students may need to be called back before they get their degrees. However, the finance minister argued that at the moment the flood victims were more vulnerable than anybody else. In the absence of funds, the HEC has already scrapped all its future scholarship schemes.

Ironically, Mr Sheikh was one of the task force members on whose recommendation in 2002 the HEC came into being. Over the last eight years, the government has invested more than Rs200 billion in the commission for promotion of university education. "Now the federal government is hesitant to provide money to the sector," said one of the vice chancellors.

Later at a press conference, Dr Saeeda Asadullah, chairperson of vice chancellors committee, and other VCs painted a dismal picture of the universities' future if the government remained indifferent to their genuine needs.

Despite the announcement of 50 per cent increase in the salaries of employees by the government, 99 per cent universities have not yet implemented the decision due to financial constraints, they said.

Dr Nasir, head of the Institute of Management Sciences, Peshawar, warned that all public sector universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would go on a complete strike if the salaries of the staff were not increased as per government's own decision. "I will be the first to lead the protest and will resign in case my staff does not get their raised salaries," Dr Nasir said. Criticising the government, Dr Najma Najam, Vice Chancellor of Karakoram International University, Gilgit, said: "Mr Sheikh asks us to generate funds. Should I ask my students to start digging up the surrounding hills to earn money?"

During the last financial year, the government released only Rs11.5 billion under the development grants against a commitment of Rs18.5 billion. During the current financial year under PSDP, Rs15.7 billion have been earmarked for the development of universities but so far only Rs1.5 billion have been released. As a result, around 300 development schemes have been affected adversely. The situation is, however, expected to deteriorate as the floods will force the government to make more substantial cuts in the PSDP.

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Pindi college teachers boycott classes
Rawalpindi: College teachers here on Thursday observed strike and boycotted classes in protest against establishment of board of governors in selected colleges and initiation of four years graduation programmes.

The teachers under the umbrella of Punjab Professors and Lecturers Association (PPLA) remained away from classes after 10:30 am and held meetings in their respective colleges where they passed resolutions demanding immediate removal of BoGs from the 26 institutions.

PPLA President Mohammad Illyas Qureshi said teachers observed strike in all over Punjab and said they would continue their agitation till the removal of BoGs.

He said in a bid to counter the protesting teachers the provincial education department had decided to install thumb impression machines in every college to record the attendance of teachers. He called it an attempt to curtail the liberty of college teachers and was a discrimination as such system had not been installed in any office.

On the other hand the higher education department had announced the schedule for admissions in four years BS programmes in the selected colleges and was determined to carry on with the plan.

Rawalpindi division Director (colleges) Dr Mohammad Ashraf when contacted said government had planned to install the thumb impressions machine to check the regularity of the teachers.

He said they would not be able to install the system immediately as the required software was yet to be received from the department concerned.

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FG schools in cantonments: Verdict on hiring of serving army officer reserved
Rawalpindi: The Lahore High Court here on Thursday reserved verdict on a petition challenging the appointment of a serving army officer as director of federal government educational institutions, cantonments and garrisons (FGEICG).

Justice Ijaz Ahmed will announce his decision on the petition of Izharul Haq, a former clerk of the directorate, later.

The petitioner through his counsel Mohammad Fazil Siddiqi maintained that FGEICG was declared as an attached department of the ministry of defence in 1992 but it was being run through the inspector general training and evaluation of the GHQ in violation of rules.

He said the director's post was of BPS-20 on which appointment could only be made by the prime minister. He said that all employees of the department had been getting salaries from civil estimates.

The petitioner maintained that no education code had been made by the directorate despite the fact that it was mandatory under the law. There is neither a regular admission policy nor any code of conduct for hiring of teachers, he added.

He said the appointment of director had also not been notified making it impossible to challenge his decisions at any forum.

He prayed the court to declare the appointment null and void.

On the other hand, in its comments in writing the directorate of FGEICG stated that the serving brigadier had been appointed as director by the ministry of defence after taking approval from the President of Pakistan.

The director FGEICG claimed that in 1977 the cabinet secretariat with the sanction of the President had transferred the control and management of schools and colleges in cantonments from the directorate of nationalised cantonment educational institutions, ministry of education, to the directorate of army education with serving military officer in the command. He also maintained that in 1977 the then President had transferred the management of educational institutions in cantonment and garrison areas from the ministry of education to the GHQ to maintain unanimity for children of army officers who are frequently transferred to different parts of the country.

The respondent director stated that 200,288 institutions were being run through the education code of 1974 issued by the federal ministry of education. Dawn

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BoG plan for 26 colleges resented
Rawalpindi: On the call of Punjab Professors and Lecturers Association (PPLA), local chapterat Government College Asgher Mall, Rawalpindi, observed black day against Punjab government's decision to set up board of governors in 26 colleges, says a press release.

A meeting was held here with Professor M. Shakeel Abbasi, President PPLA, in the chair, which was attended by a large number of teachers.

Professor Abbasi said that they couldn't accept Punjab government's unilateral decision of setting up board of governors in 26 colleges that is damaging to the college teachers. A resolution was unanimously passed in which teachers extended full support to PPLA for demanding of the government to withdraw its BOG programme and announce up-gradation of scales for the college teachers.

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Stay safe around the school bus
Islamabad: Teaching children to take precautions while waiting for, entering and exiting a school bus can help keep them safe.

The National Safety Council offers these suggestions:

Today's Health Tips

* Wait for the bus far away from traffic. Stay on the sidewalk, and pay attention to passing cars.

* Use the handrail while entering and exiting the bus.

* Don't approach the bus until it has completely stopped, and the door is open.

* Allow at least 10 feet clearance if you cross the street in front of the bus. Wait for the driver to tell you that it's safe to cross.

* Make sure the driver can see where you are after you've left the vehicle.

* Stay well away from the bus's rear wheels.

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MCJ students outshine in F.Sc
Islamabad: The students of Military College Jhelum (MCJ) have performed excellently in the FSc (Part-II) examinations of the Rawalpindi Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, says a press release. Cadet Anees-ur-Rehman won the first position in pre-engineering group by obtaining 1008 marks. Cadet Muhammad Adnan with 999 marks bagged the second position in pre-engineering group. Cadet Adnan Mustafa clinched the third position in General Science group by getting 927 marks. The overall 78 cadets out of 99 cadets obtained A+ or A grade. The news

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