Govt urged to ensure free, compulsory education
Experts on Monday expressed concern over the delay in the enactment of the law on free and compulsory secondary education in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and millions of children could reach schools if the law was enforced. “Free and compulsory education is mandatory under Article 25-A of the Constitution but the government is using delaying tactics to ensure it. According to a study, around 2.8 million children are out of schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but they could get entry to schools if that article is implemented,” Fayyaz Ahmad of the Working Group for Girls Education Initiative (WGGEI) told a news conference at the Peshawar Press Club. The representatives of NGOs, including Khwendo Kor, Dost Welfare Foundation, Sparc, Save the Children and CGPA, were also in attendance.
The North Waziristan conflict, which has left over 955,900 tribesmen homeless, has put the future of 86,323 students from the government schools of the troubled tribal agency at stake. The number of children enrolled in private schools of Miramshah, Mirali and other parts of the agency is not known, however. Children have suffered physically, socially and mentally in the eight years long uncertainty and violence in the area. And, now, the displacement has adversely affected their academic career. The Zarb-i-Azb military operation, which was launched against militants in North Waziristan on June 18, is taking a heavy toll on children of other Fata agencies, too, where schools and other education institutions have been closed for indefinite period for security reasons
The Khyber Agency education office has deposited millions of rupees into the public exchequer by withholding salaries of the sacked government and community school teachers during the last one year. Agency education officer, Ateeq ur Rehman, told Dawn on Monday that his department had served legal notices on a total of 77 absentee teachers serving in both formal and informal schools in different parts of Khyber Agency. He said that after completion of all the legal formalities and with no satisfactory response from the teachers on whom notices were served, the education department removed 73 teachers. “Only one teacher, who replied to the show cause notice in time, was demoted to the lower grade,” he added.
Punjab government will build educational institutes in North Waziristan
During a visit to the Brigade Headquarters Bannu, Shahbaz said additional hospitals and colleges would be constructed in the district. Shahbaz also announced that Rs1bn would be raised for the IDPs. He also said that the arrival of IDPs in Punjab had not stopped and also underscored that the country was in dire need of unity. A military operation is under way in North Waziristan to rid the tribal region of local and foreign militants. Hundreds of thousands of families have been displaced in the wake of the operation.
Parliament’s Standing Committee On Education calls for an increase in teacher salary
The national assembly’s standing committee on education took a strong note of Pakistan’s appalling situation in the education sector, calling on the concerned ministry to take drastic steps for improvement in the general indicators.
As the elementary and secondary education department is striving to overcome the deep rooted issue of teachers’ absenteeism in government schools, around 5,000 teachers remained absent from duty on daily basis across the province during May, according to sources. Another 15,000 teachers were not available in schools on daily basis as they were on sanctioned leave, examination duties and other official engagements, sources said. Similarly, around 1,300 teachers were recorded to be latecomers to their respective schools, they added. The astounding daily absenteeism of the 5,000 teachers surfaced in the monitors’ report for May. The monitors work under Independent Monitoring Unit and each of them visits at least three government schools daily. The recently established IMU is funded by UK Department for International Development.
Increase in the funds of PEF partner schools
Punjab Education Foundation has increased the funds of its partner middle and secondary schools. Rs. 50/month has been increased for the students of middle while Rs. 100/month has been increased for the students of secondary schools.
The executive district officer for education of Rawalpindi has been tasked to sell 2,000 tickets for a fund-raising T20 match to be played at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on July 18. Even though the event may be for the good cause of raising Rs1 million for the internally displaced persons of North Waziristan, sources in the education department say teachers consider the Rs500 ticket being forced upon them as a very unsporting affair.
They said the district government had handed the tickets to EDO Education Qazi Zahoorul Haq to sell them to teachers and students of government schools in the district.
A big financial fraud has rocked Federal Urdu University of Science and Technology, triggering the management to initiate a probe into the unauthorised and secret transfer of Rs 150 million from the designated private bank branch to a private bank account. The Nation learnt on Monday that the money deposited by the university’s students as tuition and admission fees with the designated branch of a private bank was secretly transferred on July 23, 2013, to another fake account for investment in private businesses. Lt-Gen (r) Shahid Aziz, in-charge of the campus in Islamabad, has constituted a five-member committee to fix responsibility in the scam besides issuing show-cause notices to Deputy Treasurer Asim Bukhari, Deputy Registrar Shah Muhammad, Assistant Treasurer Hamad Kayani and Accountant Rana Asif.
While briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee on Federal Education and Professional Training, this Monday, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) Chairperson Dr Mukhtar Ahmed said that although Pakistan may not have the best educational institutes in the world, the local educational institutions are continuously improving in rankings. The commission, he said, has been constantly trying to improve the quality of education in the country. Dr Ahmed said that there were two types of rankings of educational institutions. In the global rankings, National University of Science and Technology (Nust) has been ranked among the top 500 universities of the world.
France bans Pakistani students for PhD
Higher Education Commission (HEC) Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed has informed the National Assembly (NA) that France had banned Pakistani students from pursuing doctoral level studies in the field of Nuclear Science, Agriculture and Dairy. During a meeting of NA Standing Committee on Education Monday, the HEC chairman said that reportedly eight percent of PhD students did not come back to the country after completing studies in foreign countries. Briefing the NA committee presided over by Gulzar Khan, Dr Ahmed said that as many as 600 students were studying in France and all scholarships had been awarded on open merit. He said students faced difficulties when money was not sent to them on time, adding that as per Prime Minister’s Pay Back Student Fees Scheme, more than 45,000 students’ fees had been refunded.
ICCI, HEC join hands for knowledge-based economy
Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI) and Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work jointly towards creating a knowledge economy Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry President Shaban Khalid and HEC Executive Director Prof Dr Mansoor Akbar Kundi signed the MoU. ICCI is the foremost chamber with a progressive and innovative approach to sign such MoU with HEC recognising the importance of strengthening the connection of academia, schools and universities with the industry to move towards a knowledge economy. ICCI and HEC agreed to conduct joint research to understand the current trends of students and to use the information to inculcate an entrepreneurial mindset among graduates, thus nurturing a conducive entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country.
Committee members at a meeting, presided over by Gulzar Khan, said it had come to their knowledge that most scholars sent abroad by the HEC were not sharing and submitting their research reports with the regulatory body. The committee members also claimed most HEC-funded scholars were not returning to the country after completing their studies abroad. To this, HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmad told the meeting that only five to six per cent of scholars have stayed abroad. He said the rest have returned to the country but in many cases, their services were not being availed by the government or the HEC.
The National Vocational and Technical Training Commission (NAVTTC) has devised a comprehensive plan to introduce, for the first-time, competency-based training in selected technical educations and vocational training (TEVT) institutes across the country. The implementation of the new training approach would start in September this year, said a press release issued here on Monday. In this regard a workshop was organised by NAVTTC in collaboration with TEVT Reform Support Programme, which is co-funded by the European Union, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Federal Republic of Germany and implemented by GIZ, according to the press release.
The Scholarship Selection Committee of Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan on Monday awarded overseas PhD scholarships to two teachers. The decision was taken at the 45th meeting of the committee held at the varsity’s main campus. The decision was taken at the 45th meeting of the committee held at the varsity’s main campus chaired by Vice Chancellor Professor Ihsan Ali. Saman Yaqub, lecturer at the department of zoology, and Zeeshan Anwar, lecturer at the department of pharmacy, were awarded overseas PhD scholarships. Saman Yaqub has been awarded scholarship in zoology at University of Leicester, UK, while Zeeshan Anwar has been awarded scholarship in pharmacy at Trinity College of Dublin, UK.
Abdication as policy by Dr Maleeha Lodhi
Pakistan has a national crisis in education in dire need of a national response. But the responsibility to deal with this rests with the provinces after the 18th Constitutional Amendment. To urge a national response is not to argue for rollback of the amendment – a political impossibility. It is to emphasise the need for the federal government to a) show leadership on this critical policy front; b) evolve a mechanism, like all good federal systems do, to address key issues nationally; and c) to mobilise consent and coordination from provincial authorities to act urgently on education. No issue is more consequential to Pakistan’s fate and fortunes than a transformation in the coverage and quality of education offered to our children. Yet the present abysmal state of play in education holds a bleak future for the country.
Why is education for the disabled important?
Imagine what a 97 per cent unemployment and 96 per cent illiteracy rate will lead to in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Multan, Faisalabad, Hyderabad, Quetta or Peshawar. Statistical reminders notwithstanding, when a society no longer equates disenfranchised citizens with a lifelong narrative, but merely as a ticker for ratings or a sympathetic momentary glance in passing – its existential crisis deepens. While the situation is dire, it is not irreversible since integrative, sustainable, and empathetic work is being done in pockets, dotted all over the country. To enhance the impact manifold, an effective national network is needed to connect the erstwhile disconnected dots. A framework should be established addressing the core issues faced by people with disabilities so that they can be integrated into mainstream society – from education to healthcare to transport to employment to infrastructure.