HEC scholars face bleak future

3000 HEC scholars face bleak future over paucity of funds
Islamabad, Feb 04: The fate of almost 3,000 students sent abroad for higher studies on the government expenses by Higher Education Commission (HEC), is put at stake after the relevant quarters turned a deaf ear to their concerns especially with regard to the provision of the allocated funds.
Sources privy to the development informed that after the repeated requests and revision of the scholarships of these students sent abroad to different world educational institutes, the finance division is now showing little interest in the matter.

The cold shoulder response from the relevant circles also pushed the HEC into a difficult situation, which according to the sources took some measures including the revision of the mode of payment with various universities and institutions in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, United States of America and others.

According to the arrangements, the government has to provide funds for the project and under that arrangement the HEC has to pay to the institutes concerned as well as the scholars their tuition fees, stipends and other expenses for a period of one year in advance.

The authorities after successful negotiations with the said institutes first got reduced the time period of advance payment to 6 months and subsequently to three months but even then they failed to release the required amount for these officially selected scholars. The sources further said that in meetings with finance division it seemed that the present government wanted to get ride of the students, studying abroad under "HEC Scholarship Programme."

It is relevant to mention here that a loss of billions of rupees is expected if the government fails to submit the dues of Pakistani students immediately as a result of which previous investment on these scholars would go in vain.

Reliable sources in the Finance Division said that miseries of the Pakistani scholars were being considered and funds would be released to HEC in a short span of time. However, despite several attempts no official in the Finance Division was available to respond on this serious matter.

Dr Mukhtar Ahmad, Member Operations and Planning HEC, when contacted confirmed that HEC was not able to convince the foreign institutes, as it was not possible to make changes in the rules and regulations of said foreign institutes. He further said that due to free education in the European countries HEC scholars in the European institutes were comparatively in better position than those who got enrolled in the other foreign institutes like US, Australia and the UK.

Dr Mukhtar however expressed optimism regarding positive response of the government to release funds to the commission. He said that HEC Chairperson Shehnaz Wazir Ali was continuously convincing the finance division to release the funds to regain the confidence of the commission's scholars. Executive Director HEC Dr Sohail H Naqvi, when contacted, said HEC negotiations with foreign countries institutes were successful. He said that the HEC had convinced the different countries' organisations, which are playing a bridge between HEC scholars and the respective universities across the world regarding submission of dues in installations. In the prevailing financial crunch, HEC could not pay in advance the pledged amount of HEC scholars to their universities. He suggested that the present government should review its policy regarding HEC.

To a query, he replied that no more compensation was expected from the fee schedule of the scholars and if funds were not released future of thousands of the HEC scholars' would suffer. Responding to another query, he said that higher-level education system should be remained autonomous from the Ministry of Education.

It is the right time to take benefit from that investment which HEC earlier had made by sending thousands of talented students abroad for qualitative educations in the best ranking universities of the world", he remarked.

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Education sector reform
Functions of educational institutions are often discussed in relation to institutional autonomy; performance; order and discipline; learning environment; rewards for achievement; parental support; and clarity or dilution of objectives.

A significant observation indicates: declining learning environment, growing distracting influence, declining discipline in academic setting, lack of counselling and individual attention to students, non-operating student-teacher relationship, falling standards, failure because of structures, organisation, content, instructional process and evaluation, lacking spirit of competition and failure of the system in its efforts regarding discovering and developing potential.

Research on mass failure of students at matriculation and higher level examinations in Pakistan do indicate a relationship with some of the stated factors.

All these factors provide a frame of reference for further in-depth analysis of the internal and external environment of education in Pakistan so as to arrive at some specific conclusions and recommendations. Evaluation would be useful if it reflects on policy objectives, the role of educational leadership, organisation and management, motivational environment and enabling culture, and other major problems and issues confronting the system of education and its management.

Education is a function of the total society. Educational reform agenda will be workable only if an integrated and comprehensive approach to societal issues is made part of the educational programmes as an instrument of change.

The evaluation of education is biased by one's social class, values and aspirations. Quality of education is, therefore, a relative rather than an absolute standard. However, the quality of education is determined by a complex of factors or forces in the internal and external environment of educational institutions.

No doubt, leadership has the responsibility to ensure quality in its totality. An agenda for reform and efficacy of society requires a critical analysis to develop an understanding of the linkage between culture of the society, the system of education and the role of educational leadership.

An objective assessment of educational sector reform must identify problem areas at different levels of education and give suggestions for improvement in terms of structure, organisation, functions and personal. We are not paying attention to complex issues.

What we say is that it is only a small percentage of the GNP which goes into education. We forget all other important in-puts, investments and the environment of education.

Infrastructure should contribute to broad social goals, yet it may be effective only when efforts are narrowly focused. The choice of instruments and approaches must reflect sectoral needs and the capacity of implementing agencies.

The writer is former director, National Institute of Public Administration (NIPA). E-mail: iftahmad786@hotmail.com (The Nation)

IHC allows student to reappear in AIOU exams
Islamabad: The chief justice Islamabad High Court (IHC) Tuesday allowed Bibi Yasmeen, a student of MA Education, to reappear in Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) examinations.

Bibi Yasmeen stated that she appeared in the second semester examination but failed in the subject of English adding her result was declared on September 10, 2008 while she received it by post on September 22, 2008, the last date for submission of applications for reappearing in the examination. Yasmeen stated that next day she went to apply for reappearing in the examination but she was told that the last date for the submission of these applications has elapsed. Even my brother also went to the AIOU few days later to pursue the case but to no avail, she stated in her petition.

She prayed to the court that her petition might be allowed with any relief admissible to her.

The university in its reply stated that it properly advertised the results on the internet. The university stated that it could face a big fiasco by allowing a particular student to reappear in exams after the expiry of admission date. Upon which the CJ remarked that how many people in the country has the facility of internet connections at their homes and what percentage of people uses it. The News

KMU announces B.Sc Vision Sciences results
Peshawar: Khyber Medical University (KMU) Peshawar has announced B.Sc Vision Sciences second year annual results. According to details issued by Examination Department of KMU, a total of 24 students were appeared in the B.Sc vision Sciences second year annual examinations out of which 19 students were declared successful. The over all pass percentage of the results was 79.20 percent. Students of Pakistan Institute of Community Ophthalmology (PICO) Peshawar Saima Bibi D/O Saliheen Khan secured 519 marks, Muhammad Arshad S/O Muhammad Rahman 486 marks and Asmat ullah S/O Nawab Shah obtained 484 marks out of 640 and they got first, second and third positions respectively. F.P. Report

Two more schools blown up in Bajaur
Khar: Militants blew up two government schools in the Pashat area of Bajaur Agency on Tuesday.

Salarzai Political Tehsildar Adalat Khan said that about a dozen militants planted explosive devices in a primary school and a high school and detonated them early in the morning, destroying the buildings, records and furniture.

Volunteers of Salarzai tribal lashkar went after the militants, but they escaped after an exchange of fire.

A day earlier, Salarzai elders had held a meeting with representatives of the administration in Khar and reiterated their resolve to flush out militants from the area by stepping up the lashkar's campaign.

Both the schools were built on land owned by the lashkar's chief, former MNA Shahabuddin Khan. Another school was blown up in the same area a couple of days ago.

Militants had occupied three girls' school in May last year, hoisted flags of the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban on the buildings, and set up 'shariat courts' there. Dawn

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