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NED convocation 2013 & financial crisis

1,419 awarded degrees at NED convocation
Karachi, March 02: The 21st convocation of the NED University of Engineering and Technology, which could probably be the last one for its outgoing vice chancellor (VC), was held at the university's campus on Thursday.

VC Engr Abul Kalam completed his fourth consecutive term in December last year, but continued carrying out his responsibilities according to the directive of Sindh Governor Dr Ishrat-ul-Ebad Khan.

During the convocation, 1,416 students were awarded their degrees and two faculty members were awarded their PhD degrees.

The university has restricted its doctorate programme to its faculty members to ensure the faculty is qualified.

In 1997, there were only 15 PhD teachers on the university's staff, but the figure has increased to 93 now, Kalam informed the audience.

The thesis of Assoc Prof Arjumend Masood of the Civil Engineering Department was titled 'Quantification of flow resistance for unlined canals in alluvial soil' and the thesis of Asst Prof Sadia Muniza Faraz of the Electronic Engineering Department was titled 'Physical simulation and characterisation of electronic and photonic devices in wide bandgap semiconductors'.

Some 1,702 Bachelors students from 17 four-year and three five-year degree programmes earned their degrees, but only 1,289 showed up at the convocation.

Moreover, 307 students earned their Masters degrees from 15 postgraduate programmes, but only 127 showed up at the convocation.

Engr Kalam, well-known for his discipline, punctuality and management skills, wanted to stand up at the podium to confer the degrees to the students.

However, considering his age, the university management requested him to make the announcements from his seat at the centre of the stage, which was accepted by the VC.

"The financial position of this university is still quite precarious. Services of some contract employees have had to be terminated and reduction of salaries of contract employees would soon be unavoidable. The overtime rates have been reduced and medical facilities brought down to minimum level. Bonuses of permanent employees have to be curtailed as well," said the VC.

Twenty gold medals were awarded to first-position holders from different departments, and the students who secured the second and third positions were presented with a 'Certificate of Merit' by the chief guest, Sindh Finance Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah.

Hafiz Muhammad Zohaib Kabir of the Civil Engineering Department, Batch 2008-09, was awarded three gold medals, including two sponsored gold medals, and Rs5,000 for securing overall first position in the department.

The twin brothers Faizan Mustafa and Farrukh Mustafa who secured the second and third positions, respectively, from the Electronic Engineering Department said they loved healthy competition with each other.

Faizan said he remained among the top three students throughout the course, and Farrukh said he was among the top 10 students.

The top position holders from the Metallurgical Engineering Department complained that there were hardly any jobs in the sector.

They said that even with the dearth of jobs, men sometimes get employed, but the women are being ignored by the sector.

When asked to comment on this, NED Registrar Engr Javed Aziz Khan told this correspondent that women might get employed for a desk job in this sector, but they might not be able to work on-site or on the technical side.

"Out of the total strength, only 10 to 12 students have a job, whereas there were at least 50 to 52 students in the class," the students said.

On the other hand, the position holders from the Telecommunication Engineering Department were pleased about their future regarding work.

The chief guest advised the students not to lose faith despite the circumstances they might have to face in their lives.

"You will be tested in the future, but you must stand tall and try hard to get over the situation. But if you stop trying, then you will stop living," he said.

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'NED facing financial crisis'
Karachi: The financial crisis-hit NED University has managed to disburse the February salaries of its employees from grade-1 to 15 on March 1 (today), while the rest of the staff did not know as to when they would be getting their salaries.

Director Finance NED Muhammad Sajeeruddin said that their university has not yet received its due grant from the Higher Education Commission (HEC), however, they have managed to generate Rs35 million from own resources and internal loans to pay off the salaries to the employees from grade 1 to 15.

The universities used to receive grants on regular basis but the situation has changed a lot since 2010, he said, adding: "We had been getting grants on quarterly basis which is now being paid on monthly basis with a lot of cuts and from December 2012 the situation has gone beyond imagination".

According to him, the HEC allocated Rs734.765 million budget to the NED for the year 2012-13, however, only 367.381 million were received up to February. The staff of Accountant General Revenue is on strike for the past 20-25 days, while the staff concerned is not endorsing the checks released by the finance ministry.

This situation has created hardship in paying salaries and meeting other expenses. "The amount of Rs74 million for February is not paid and the finance ministry is also not helping out the universities in this regard," the NED official said.

"It happened only once in the recent past when we could not pay salaries to the staff owing to long weekend and law and order situation in the city but the salaries were disbursed as soon as lawlessness came under control," he said. "But now everybody is worried since the public sector universities are facing a pathetic situation as nobody is ready to pay attention in this regard."

According to Muhammad Sajeeruddin, NED pays Rs87 million in salaries to the employee, besides Rs30 million were required to meet other expenditures each month. The budget release by the concerned authorities also varies month to month, which is creating further problems for the public sector universities. The NED vice chancellor had also raised this issue during the Thursday convocation to draw the attention of the government officials in this regard.

The teaching and non-teaching faculty members fear that if this situation persists then the university management would not be able to run its affairs. The NED generates only Rs300 million per year in lieu of tuition fees which is not enough to meet the financial requirements of the university.

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Sindh calls for end to corporal punishment
Karachi: The Sindh Assembly has called on the government to scrap a law that is often "misused" to justify corporal punishments at schools.

The resolution, moved by Shamim Ara Panhwar, came after the issue was raised in Geo News programme "Chal Parha" hosted by famous singer Shehzad Roy. The programme aims at reforming the education system of Pakistan.

According to the legislators, Section 89 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) was being misused to justify punishing children in the country. The law allows guardians and person having lawful charge of children to punish them "in good faith for their benefit".

Panhwar said the section should be repealed because children were beaten by the teachers in schools, triggering psychological problems. The Sindh Assembly recommends that the federal government should repeal Section 89 of the PPC, the resolution stated.

Corporal punishment was "a humanitarian issue", said Sindh Education Minister Pir Mazharul Haq, pointing out that some teachers tended to take advantage of Section 89 to punish students contending it was for their betterment.

Repealing this section would hopefully lead to a "pleasant atmosphere" at schools and teachers would be refrained from beating the students, he added.

Humera Alwani claimed there the school drop-out rate of 30 percent was mainly because of the beating. But Jam Tamachi contended lack of teachers was the reason.

He seemed to defend corporal punishment, saying even relatives beat the children and such punishment actually "benefited" them.

Anwar Mahar seconded Tamachi, saying he was also beaten by his teachers and it brought "good results". He proposed that "modern teaching methods" should be introduced at schools or ending punishments "might create more problems".

Nuzhat Pathan was of the view that strictness of teachers might be good but it should not damage the child's personality.

Self-defence resolution
The lawmakers also demanded starting training students in self-defence in view of the growing threat of terrorism and lawlessness in the country.

A resolution unanimously passed by the legislative house on Thursday called for reviving Girls Guide Course (GGC), National Cadet Course (NCC), civil defence and first-aid training at schools and colleges. The trainings were stopped in the late 1990s by the then government citing "lack of funds".

Bilqees Mukhtar, who tabled the motion, urged the Sindh government to restart the programmes for all students with immediate effect, saying such trainings had become imperative in view of the frequent bomb blasts and fire incidents.

While Khalid Ahmed said such exercised were good for health and fitness, Farheen Mughal believed their revival would help to revive some "dysfunctional" institutions such as Civil Defence.

Shama Mithani claimed the trainings would also increase confidence among girls.

After the recent rape-cum-murder case in India, the government had started karate training for women, said Humera Alwani.

Ostensibly in a light mood, Jam Tamachi retorted: "Already wives are hitting husbands with shoes at home, now they will perform judo-karate on them."

In rural areas, men trained women on how to use guns and axes, said Nuzhat Pathan. She proposed that women in urban areas should also be trained to fire guns or other weapons.

First the women should be trained on how to beat men with a lathi (sticks), another MPA, Muhammad Nawaz Chandio, chimed in.

The female legislators, however, deemed the remarks too offensive.

The training for the girls was to deal with terrorism, said Bilqees Mukhtar, wondering why her male colleagues were discussing their "domestic problems" in the house.

Sindh Assembly Speaker Nisar Khuhro could only smile, claiming he had not heard the later part of Mukhtar's comment.

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Corporal punishment: can schoolteachers refrain?
Karachi: A conducive learning environment exists when a student is eager to gain knowledge and does not solely focus on avoiding the wrath of his teacher. Luckily for those studying at a place where they are likely to be physically punished, the Provincial Assembly resolved to do away with article 89 of the Pakistan Penal Code, which allows corporal punishment as a means to discipline a child.

The law states that the guardian or caretaker of a child under 12 years of age is allowed to administer physical punishment in good faith where the intention is not to cause voluntary harm or death.

"Even if a child gets killed in the process, it is easy for the teacher to escape with noting more than blood money. According to articles 318 and 319, the punishment for 'death by mistake' is 'Diyat or blood money'," said Rana Asif, who heads Initiators, an organisation working for child rights.

Moreover, voluntary harm is only caused if one of six particular conditions is met. Article 337a of the Pakistan Penal Code states them as injury caused "without exposing the bone of victim, exposing the bone without causing fracture, fracturing the bone without dislocating it, fracturing the bone and dislocating it, fracturing the skull so that the bone touches the brain membrane and fracture of the skull so that the wound ruptures the brain membrane".

"Basically one cannot register an FIR unless blood oozes out or a bone is broken. A bruise for example, will be registered in a 'Roznamcha' or daily diary, meaning it is not a cognisable offence," said Saadia Baloch, the head of the child rights desk of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).

According to a survey conducted in 2009 by the Society for the Protection of Child Rights, 35,000 students in Pakistan left school because they were terrified over the prospect of facing corporal punishment.

Nazra Jahan, a representative of Spaarc maintains that the number over the years has increased. She dislikes the fact that a resolution has been passed and not a legislation. "After the 18th amendment, provinces have the right to pass a law. There should have been a legislation formed against corporal punishment. Now they have left it to the federal government to pass the law."

A research conducted by the Aga Khan University-Institute of Education Development at about 20 private and public schools in Karachi and Larkana reveals that parents and teachers beat up their children because it is the only way they know to enforce discipline. "The key to avoid the misbehaviour of children is to make classrooms child-friendly. Class time must be utilised constructively. Children must not get idle time for this is when they make mischief," says Cassandra Fernandes, who conducted the research.

Using corporal punishment as a means to discipline children is tradition deeply embedded in our society. While modern educationists may dispel the notion completely, traditionally it is tolerated.

"In my school days the teacher would tell parents that the bone of the child is theirs. The flesh is for the teacher, which meant it was his or her right to beat up a child," explains Sanaullah Kazi, an octogenarian educationist.

While the society condemns extreme forms of corporal punishment, a survey by the Spaarc reveals that 76 percent of parents agree that a moderate amount is necessary to correct a child's behaviour.

This is what Abdul Rehman of the Taleem Bachao Action Committee, an organisation which calls itself a watchdog for the education department, maintains. "Punishments, such as making children stand or giving a light slap on the back are tolerable, but not actually tying up a child and then beating him." The news

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FUUAST VC pledges full support for research projects
Karachi: Department of Microbiology, Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology (FUUAST), Gulshan Campus, in collaboration with Dimension Research and Microbiology Association of Pakistan on Thursday organised a seminar on topic: "Clinical Research and its Importance in Pakistan. Vice Chancellor FUUAST, Prof Dr Zafar Iqbal, assured his full cooperation to teachers and students for education and research purpose. He said that it was his longstanding desire to see FUUAST among top academic institutions of the world in future.

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DCET hails university status for institution
Karachi: The faculty and staff of the Dawood College of Engineering and Technology (DCET) have hailed the degree awarding university status for the institution.

A meeting of senior faculty and staff members DCET was held on Thursday with Vice Chancellor of Sindh Madressatul Islam University, Dr Mohammad Ali Shaikh, who is also lncharge Principal of DCET in the chair.

The participants of the meeting lauded the passage of the bill for conferring university status to DCET by Sindh Assembly on Feb 27.

They praised the efforts made by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Sindh Governor Dr. Ishrat-ul-Ebad, Sindh Education Minister Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq and the members of the provincial assembly in this regard.

The meeting also appreciated relentless efforts undertaken by Dr Mohammad Ali Shaikh for getting university status for the DCET. It was pointed out that Dr Ali got university status for two institutions of the city- Sindh Madressatul Islam and Dawood Engineering College within a period of one year.

The meeting also demanded that the Sindh government should allocate at least 50 acres of land for Dawood University of Engineering and Technology in the Education City because presently the DCET has two campuses at Karachi, each comprising about 4 acres: one is located near Mazar-e-Quaid-e-Azam and the other is near PIA Planetarium in Gulshan-e-Iqbal.

"The total area of these two campuses is eight acres while as per requirement of the Higher Education Commission, each university should have at least 10 acres of land out of which at least 3 acres should be in the city and remaining may be in the vicinity.

Dr Shaikh while addressing the meeting said the DCET was able to get university status within a short span of time because of the efforts of Sindh CM Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Sindh Governor Dr Ishrat-ul- Ebad Khan and Sindh Education Minister Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq. Daily times

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