Education sector – always at the receiving end
Islamabad, Sept 24: The issue of the lack of funding to the education sector is no secret in this country. Despite repeated proclamations by every incoming government – be it a democratically-elected one or a dictatorship – there has been little improvement in the sector. This much is clear from the fact that Pakistan is bracketed with sub-Saharan states region when it comes to education.
The present government in its new education policy had also announced that it would achieve over 80 per cent literacy by 2015. Though how it reached either the figure or the year remains unexplained. But it is now clear that this was simply rhetoric because since then the government has not even been able to spare a meagerly two per cent of the GDP for the education sector.
However, the biggest blow came this year to the HEC. The annual budget of a commission that was the cornerstone of General Pervez Musharraf's education policy kept on increasing every year till 2008 elections rolled in. Since then, the HEC has seen a scaling down of the finances at its disposal; a downward revision was made last year when the budget was reduced from Rs22.5 billion to Rs15 billion for the development of public-sector universities this year.
But the woes of the HEC and higher education did not end here. The government constantly delayed the release of funds or further reduced the sums it had promised. This became such an issue over the past year that it began making headlines. And the issue came to a head this past week when the heads of 72 state-run universities warned that their institutions were about to go bankrupt due to shortage of funds. This was because of the latest steps taken by the government; besides holding back development funds, which were earmarked for the Public Sector Development Programme in the last financial year, it also refused to release money committed in the current year for the universities.
Backed into a financial corner, the academic staff of the 72 institutes announced a strike for September 22, 2010. At the same time Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani set up a special committee with Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Nadeem-ul-Haq to resolve the issue.
However, very little of this echoed in the rhetoric of our political class. This reveals the apathy of the PPP and the government and of our politicians in general. Those who regularly visit and cover proceedings of the Senate and the National Assembly can testify that no comprehensive debate on education took place in the two houses, let alone calling a special session on the issue.
Where is the young, energetic, and pro-active Choudhry Abid Sher Ali, chairman of the National Assembly Standing Committee? While the vice-chancellors of all public-sector universities are up in arms because of shortage of funds, this PML-N MAN who never stopped highlighting the alleged wrongdoing of the daughter of the former Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar and that of the fake degree holders is nowhere to be seen.
During a recently held meeting of the vice-chancellors committee, a number of them could be heard criticising Mr Sher Ali for not helping the committee. They also spoke against politicians in general for not according due consideration to the education sector.
During the earlier meetings of Mr Ali's committee, a number of its members led by Dr Azra Fazal Pechucho of PPP had termed him a publicity monger who only picked up issues which attracted the media attraction. Is that why he did not bother championing the cause of the higher education sector? Because he did not think it made for a sound byte that would echo on all the channels?
What else can explain his absence from the scene? What was stopping him from calling an emergency meeting of his committee to listen to the vice-chancellors' concern, but also play a leading role, as he did in highlighting the issue of the lawmakers with fake degrees?
Lest one think that only Mr Sher Ali is at fault, it needs to be pointed out that the National Assembly is no less guilty. Everything under the sun was discussed during its last session - September 2 to 4 - which was primarily convened to discuss flood situation. But nobody bothered to move a motion to deliberate on the higher education sector in the country. Dawn
95 percent Pakistani youth favours women education, says survey
Islamabad: The Pakistani youth takes their religion seriously without expressing a desire to impose it on other people. It was revealed in a research study conducted by Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) to examine thinking patterns of Pakistani youth.
The latest issue of 'Conflict and Peace Studies', a quarterly research journal of the institute carries the outcome of the survey.
According to the PIPS survey of postgraduate students from 16 public and private universities and postgraduate public colleges across the country, 79.4 percent of the respondents thought that the Pakistani Taliban did not serve the cause of Islam. Most of the respondents (85.6 percent) believed that suicide bombings were prohibited in Islam. The majority of the respondents (61.7 percent) supported military operations in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
At the same time, these young Pakistanis overwhelmingly considered religion an important factor in their life (92.4 percent), though 51.7 percent said that they do not offer prayers regularly. Daily times
Students launch 'Pehchan Pakistan' project
Islamabad: In order to promote activism and leadership qualities among youth of the country, 'Pehchan Pakistan' has been formally launched by a group of ambitious yet enthusiastic students studying at various academic institutions of United Kingdom and Pakistan.
The youth under the banner of National Union of Pakistani Students and Alumni (NUPSA) has completed the first round of their recently started 'Pehchan Pakistan' tour. "We want to end hopelessness, desperation and frustration from youth by motivating them to work for the progress of country," said NUPSA member, Ali Raza.
NUPSA is a non-political student organisation, funded by Pakistani students studying in the UK universities. The organisation aims to achieve national unity, student support and welfare, provision of funds to charities in the interest of Pakistan and Pakistanis, provision of a united Pakistani student voice to any relevant body, to build a bridge between current students and alumni to provide networking opportunities and to strengthen democratic values among youth of Pakistan.
NUPSA Vice President Mohammad Ammar on the occasion said that 100 million of our population is under 25 years age group, but most of them were directionless and categorised in different classes. "We want to bridge up the gap by ending the class system and providing equal opportunities to youth so that they could contribute towards the progress of country," he said.
Ali Hameed, a student of Air University and member of Shaoor Society on the occasion said that over the last one decade, the reputation of Pakistan has been deteriorated due to the issues like extremism and terrorism.
"There is a need to highlight the positive image of the country, which is only possible, if the youth of the country is engaged in positive activities," he said.
On the occasion, Jang Group representative Aziz Mahmound said that the best thing about the group was that it was non political and doesn't have affiliation with any party. "Our country was in dire need of such movements that could channelise youth and explore their talent besides utilizing them for the progress of country," he said.
He said that Jang group would extend its full support to these youngsters, who have brought the massage of peace and brotherhood in our country.
After the official launch of the tour, the caravan of these students will start their tour to universities in Punjab going as far as University in Multan. Throughout this tour they have been raising funds for the flood victims, which would further stimulate NUSPA's flood relief efforts.
O level exam distinction
Rawalpindi: Maham Malik, daughter of Rizwan Malik, joint secretary in the Planning and Development Davison, obtained 14 A* grades in the 'O' Level Examination 2010, says a press release. The news