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Free education in Sindh | KU book fair

Free education becomes mandatory in Sindh
Karachi, Feb 14: The legislators of Sindh on Wednesday unanimously passed a law making education free and compulsory for children between five and 16 years and binding private schools to reserve 10 percent admissions for disadvantaged and terrorism-affected children.

Under the "Sindh Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2013", children will fall into the disadvantaged criterion if their parents' monthly income is less than the minimum wage Rs8,000 fixed by the government.

If the owners of the private schools violate the new law i.e. charge fee from these children or subject them or their parents to their "screening procedures", they shall be fined between Rs50,000 and Rs100,000 and face imprisonment ranging from one to three months.

The law also makes it compulsory for parents or guardians to send their children to school. The government promises through the law to arrange pre-school or special training for the children who have crossed the given age limit to bring them at par with other students.

The government also vows to set up a system of grants-in-aid to support school attendance of poor students. It will also provide incentives to the private sector to establish schools that facilitate free and compulsory education.

The provincial government and metropolitan corporations will provide funds for the implementation of the law.

An "Education Advisory Council" will be established comprising nine members having expertise in education, child rights and child development to advise the government on the implementation of the new legislation. The council will ensure that every child attends school.

Senior Education Minister Pir Mazharul Haq, who moved the bill, informed the House that the Act was being brought in compliance with Article 25-A of the Constitution that declared free and compulsory education a fundamental right of children aged between five and 16 years.

Th minister maintained that Sindh was the first province implementing the 18th Constitutional Amendment.

"There is no opposition from any party representing the Sindh Assembly but there may be some acrimony exhibited by others on issues other than compulsory education," Haq said. "No law is perfect."

He pointed out that the civil society and prominent educationists were consulted and they supported the new law.

Haq, who is also the parliamentary leader of the Pakistan People's Party in the House, recalled that under UN's Millennium Development Goals, Pakistan was supposed to achieve 100 percent literacy rate by 2015, but unfortunately that was unlikely to happen.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement's parliamentary leader in the assembly, Syed Sardar Ahmed, stressed the need for proper implementation of the law.

"This law should have been introduced three years ago when the 18th Constitutional Amendment was passed."

Ahmed, who has served as a chief secretary, recalled that Sindh was the first province in newly-created Pakistan where education was compulsory.

He pointed out that the provincial government had also promulgated the Sindh Compulsory Primary Education Ordinance in 2001.

Besides, around 15 years ago, th Sindh Education Foundation was set up but the province did not make any progress in the educational sector. Ahmed regretted that scant attention had been paid girls' education in Sindh.

"Laws are good, but they have to be implemented to achieve the desired results," Ahmed noted.

PPP's Munawar Abbasi suggested that the provincial government should take responsibility for providing funds to ensure free and compulsory education up till the secondary level. "All local governments might not have the sufficient funds to carry out this task," he added.

Arif Jatoi of the National People's Party said the government should provide incentives to private schools in line with the developed countries i.e. the US and England.

The education minister responded that private schools in the country were earning in millions and did not need such incentives.

Pakistan Muslim League-Functional's Marvi Rashdi proposed that immunisation should also be made mandatory for school admissions. PPP's Humera Alwani pointed out that of the 72,000 Madrassas in the country, 18,000 were in Sindh. "The government should monitor them and be aware of what is being taught there," she suggested.

PPP's Anwar Mahar recommended that the government should focus on improving the standard of government schools.

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Spare a thought for private schools
Karachi: The Sindh government believes that the new law making education free and compulsory in the province and binding private schools to reserve 10 percent admissions for disadvantaged students and teach them free of charge is a landmark achievement. But there are dissenting voices - the private schools' association considers it unfair.

"The owners of private schools feel that it's unfair on the part of the government to expect them to bear the extra expenses," said Private School Management Association Chairman Sharf-uz-Zaman.

"The government schools pay electricity bills under the residential head, while private schools are asked to pay them under the commercial head, even though it is not the private ones which are the biggest defaulters of the Karachi Electric Supply Company," he rued.

Zaman explained that in 1979, when the private sector was first encouraged to invest in education, they were offered loans and aids as long as they stayed non-commercial and non-political. "But with time, these incentives have disappeared."

The reaction of the principal of a private school was much more severe. "Some upscale private schools consider legislations like this nonsense. Why should the government tell me what to do?" he snapped. The owners of private schools are skeptical of shouldering the responsibility which originally belongs to the government; however, a number of notable educationists both from the private and public sector support the new law.

They include Saadiqa Salahuddin, the chairperson of the Indus Resource Centre; Dr Iqbal Memon, the director of the Institute of Education Development, Aga Khan University; and Anwar Ahmad Zai, the chairperson of the Board of Intermediate Karachi.

"This is for the first time that secondary education has been made compulsory in a province. If parents fail to send their children to school, they will face a heavy penalty," said Zai.

He maintained that it might appear cruel, but in the long run it would achieve milestones. "Parents cannot become an obstacle to the upbringing up of a responsible citizen."

Regarding the displeasure of some private schools, he said: "When private schools register under the private schools' law, they agree to 22 conditions. One condition is to give free education to 10 percent students."

In each meeting, he maintained, notables from the private sector were invited and the bill was drafted after mutual consultation. "Now if some individuals are unhappy, I can only say they are being selfish. For a brighter future, we should ignore these few voices."

There are more than 4, 000 government schools in Karachi, but about 76 percent students appear for their matriculation examinations through private schools.

Despite this rate of representation, the government provides no relief to the private sector. The news

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Book fair at KU pulls crowds
Karachi: The 14th annual book fair at the University of Karachi is pulling crowds and the gymnasium of the varsity, the venue of fair, gives a festive look.

The book fair is organized by Study Aid Project (SAP) of the varsity in collaboration with Islami Jamait Talba (IJT). A wide variety of books and education-related accessories are available at the fair at reduced rates.

Vice chancellor, Karachi University, Prof. Dr. Mohammad Qaisar, appreciating the book fair, said in these busy times, most of us have not only forgotten the habit of reading books but also forget the fact that the basis of a visionary and knowledge based society is the habit of reading books. He said books open new doors of success for its readers allowing them to explore other parts of the world, new ideas, new concepts and new culture.

He said that the University of Karachi is the only institution which arranges such informative events like book fair for their students. Nowadays, when people are on the verge of abandoning the habit of reading books, the students of KU are organizing events that help in developing interest of reading books among young generation.

Books of almost every kind and on every subject are part of this grand book fair. The book fair consists of more than 50 stalls with around 0.3million books on various subjects of Science, Arts and Commerce. Almost 40% discount is offered on the books make it affordable for students. ppi

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Shaheed ZAB Law College affiliated with Lyari varsity
Karachi: The Benazir Bhutto Shaheed University Lyari, Karachi, has issued a letter affiliating the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Law College, Memon Goth, Malir, Karachi. Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Law College started its first academic session on 1st September 2013, with the registration of 183 LLB Part-I students and 16 LLM-I students. The college is going to offer BA, LLB Honours with five-year degree programme in the academic session 2013-14. It runs at the state of the art building with a beautiful library, seminar hall and auditorium in Memon Goth. The college is situated on 15 minutes drive from Malir 15. The 24-hour cheap public transport with eight entry points had made the college attractive for the students. Daily times

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Gulzar pulls out of Karachi Literature Festival
Karachi: Celebrated Indian poet, song writer and director Gulzar, who won an Oscar for writing lyrics for the smash hit movie "Slumdog Millionaire" has pulled out of Pakistan's top literary festival at the last minute, organisers said on Wednesday.

Syed Ahmed Shah, one of the organisers of the Karachi Literature Festival, confirmed Gulzar had pulled out - just two days before the start of the event. "We can't say about the reasons and circumstances that led to his return home without attending the festival," Shah said.

Indian officials denied Pakistani media reports that they had advised the poet to return to India. Vishal Bhardwaj, an Indian director travelling with Gulzar, said there was "nothing political" about the withdrawal.

The 76-year-old was simply "emotionally overwhelmed and stressed" after visiting his birthplace, Deena near Jhelum, for the first time in 70 years, Bhardwaj insisted.But a Pakistani film director who met Gulzar during his visit, told AFP on condition of anonymity that he left the country "because of some security concerns". Gulzar was scheduled to read from his poetry as well as take part in discussion groups and Shah said his absence would disappoint millions of admirers in Pakistan. "Pakistan had welcomed him with great warmth and zeal two days ago as he is hugely popular as well in our country," Shah said."His arrival was a great confidence building measure between the neighbours ." The news

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IJT demo against student's abduction
Lahore: The Islami Jamiat Tulaba (IJT), Punjab University, on Wednesday staged a demonstration against secret agencies for allegedly abducting PU Law College student Hafiz Nauman Saqib about two months ago. They demanded his release.

Speaking to protesters, Nauman's brother Asif Saqib said his brother should be presented before court if he had committed any crime. He said the family had already got registered an FIR against police and the Elite Force officials.

He said the PU students would stage a sit-in in front of IG Police office on Feb 20, if Nauman would not be released till then.

HAYA DAY:
The IJT has decided to observe Valentine's Day as Haya (modesty) Day and hold a walk from PU Law College to Faisal Auditorium on Thursday (tomorrow). Dawn

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