Education under attack 2010

UNSC's intervention proposed to stop attacks on education
Islamabad, Jan 13: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in a new report Friday, argued that attacks on education, which have seen a steep rise in four countries, should be a trigger for Security Council intervention in an effort to put an end to them.

The four countries, where the attacks on schools, teachers and students have increased dramatically, are: Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Thailand.

The report, 'Education under Attack 2010', said the 15-member council's involvement could come through its monitoring and reporting mechanism on children in armed conflict, on par with action now being taken to combat child soldiering.

The study recommended that investigations be launched by the International Criminal Court against high profile attackers as a deterrent, it said.

The report's other findings, he said it contained descriptions of attacks on students, such as the forced recruitment of child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It also discussed instances of sexual violence against children at school, or on their way to school.

The UNESCO report said the motives for attacks varied widely, from preventing the education of girls or knowledge of an alien culture, philosophy or ethnic identity to undermining government power and taking revenge for civilian killings.

"In some circumstances and in some countries ... going to school is a life-threatening activity," Mark Richmond, a senior education official at UNESCO said at a news conference launching the report. "It is not mindless violence. It is calculated and deliberate violence. It is designed to stop education."

The report found attacks on education in a greater number of countries than the first global study in 2007 which named Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Nepal, the Palestinian territories, Thailand and Zimbabwe as some of "the worst-affected countries."

The latest report cited incidents in 32 countries and said "attacks intensified dramatically in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Thailand."

"One thing is very clear - this problem is not going away," Richmond said. "There are ups and downs in terms of which countries are affected, the intensity of the attacks, the severity of the injuries and the damage being done. But there are new examples and there are more countries."

According to figures from the U.N. children's agency UNICEF cited in the report, the number of attacks on schools, students and staff nearly tripled in Afghanistan from 2007 to 2008, from 242 to 670.

In Pakistan's Swat District, at the center of the battle between the army and the Taliban, UNESCO said local officials reported that 356 schools were destroyed.

In India, nearly 300 schools were reportedly blown up by Maoist rebels between 2006 and 2009, according to the report.

And in Thailand, it said the number of attacks on schools quadrupled between 2006 and 2007 to 164, but fell back in 2008 though killings of teachers, students and security escorts for teachers continued.

Attacks on teachers and students continue to be a matter of "grave concern," the report said.

For example, in Iraq, 71 academics, two education officials and 37 students were killed in assassinations and targeted bombings between 2007 and 2009, and in Colombia, 90 teachers were murdered from 2006 to 2008, UNESCO said.

UNESCO said two short military operations also took a heavy toll. During the Georgian-Russian war in South Ossetia in August 2008, it said 127 education institutions were destroyed or damaged, and during the three-week deadly Israeli bombing in Gaza in 2008-2009, more than 300 kindergarten, school and university buildings were damaged.

The UNESCO report said many attacks occurred "in conflict-affected countries or under regimes with a poor record on human rights and democratic pluralism."

From 2007 to 2009, it said, "state forces or state-backed forces have either beaten, arrested, tortured, threatened with murder or shot dead students, teachers, and/or academics in Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Colombia, Ethiopia, Honduras, Iran, Myanmar, Nepal, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Thailand, Turkey, Zambia and Zimbabwe."

The 248-page report, "Education Under Attack 2010," calls for stepped up measures to prevent attacks including armed guards at schools and armed escorts to and from school. It also calls for the prosecution of those responsible for attacks and international action to promote respect for all educational institutions "as sanctuaries and zones of peace."

"Without education in safety and security," Richmond said, "the very possibility of building and rebuilding stable socieities will be prevented - and that is happening."

Preventing future attacks hinges on understanding their motives, the report stressed, even though analysis is impeded by factors including limited quality monitoring and reporting and the suppression of information in situations where perpetrators are repressive regimes.

The study called for involving communities in the running and defence of schools and for renegotiating the re-opening of schools, based on research and a successful program in Afghanistan.

Community initiatives have been encouraged in the Asian nation since 2006 to mobilize people to deter or resist attacks, with school protection shura, or councils, having been set up.

The report also recommended protective measures such as providing armed groups at schools or for aiding in transportation to or from school and providing distance learning if schools were deemed unsafe. The nation

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FDE teachers paying house rents from their pockets
Islamabad: Already overburdened by price-hike, teachers and administrative staff working under the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) were left with no option but to pay monthly rent of hired houses from their pockets due to non-availability of funds.

It has been learnt that the situation would get more serious in the months to come as the Finance Division had also regretted to release a supplementary grant of Rs200 million.

The FDE sources said that it currently dealing with nearly 5,000 hiring cases to accommodate those a budget to the tune of Rs540 million is required whereas only Rs193 million were allocated for the ongoing financial year.

However, the FDE had been able to pay monthly hiring to only 2,100 employees while nearly 2,800 are still on the waiting list. "We have also moved a case for re-appropriation of Rs350 million to facilitate the pending hiring cases," an official of FDE said. The official informed that all the fresh hiring cases have been put on hold after placing those on the waiting list. The number of applicants who want hiring facility has also surged to over 1500.

The sources further said that around 1,800 teachers and administrative staff had received monthly hiring till December 31, 2009 while over 300 teachers have not been release a single penny for the last one and a half years.

A large number of teachers who approached this correspondent said how they could teach students with peace of mind when they have to pay whole rent of hired houses from their pocket. "We have to avail short leave from schools and colleges to follow their cases pending with Estate Wing of the directorate," they said.

They threatened to hold protest in front of FDE and Parliament House if their grievances were not removed. "We will also go on indefinite strike," they said.

They said they are demonstrating patience only because annual examinations in schools are approaching near and they think that students would suffer.

They demanded of the government to pay their rental ceiling along with their monthly salaries, which is the best solution of the problem. They also quoted an example of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) where employees from BPS-1 to 16 have started receiving rental ceiling with their monthly salaries.

The sources said that some teachers have also approached the Supreme Court of Pakistan for redressal of their problems. Taking notice of the situation, the Human Rights Cell had directed the FDE to submit reply.

"We have submitted reply to the human rights cell telling them that the issue will be resolved once the rental ceiling is paid along with salaries or required budget is released to the directorate," an official said.

Director General FDE Dr. Shahnaz Akhtar when contacted said the directorate has not been able to entertain all the hiring cases because of large number of employees. She said they have proposed the government to pay rental ceiling along with their salaries.

The Estate Wing in FDE headed by a director was created in 2005 following federal government's decision to decentralise hiring facility from Estate Office of Ministry of Housing and Works to the concerned departments. Since then the directorate has been facing shortfall of funds to pay monthly ceiling to employees.

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IBMS teachers launch complete boycott of classes
Peshawar: The teachers of Institute of Business and Management Sciences, NWFP Agricultural University Peshawar, started boycott of classes and protest movement on Friday and pledged to continue it till acceptance of their demands.

The teachers started the protest drive three days back with two hours token boycott of the classes daily and staging protests on the premises of the university.

The administration of the university, however, remained unmoved. The university administration claimed that it had revised the salary package of the teachers. But the teachers were of the opinion that minimum increase had been made in their salaries, which they had already rejected before going on strike.

The protesting teachers said that some 5,500 students were enrolled in the institute with 104 teachers. They said wages being given to the teachers were low. They said the institute was earning hefty revenues for the university, but the teachers were not given proper salaries. They demanded that they should be given salaries at par with those drawn by the teachers of Institute of Management Sciences Hayatabad.

The teachers said that before starting their protest movement, they held talks with the university administration, but their demands were turned down.

They assailed the university administration for its indifferent attitude. "The administration instead of accepting our demands is threatening us with a severe action. It is due to the threatening behaviour of the university administration that we are launching our protest drive and boycotting classes," said an office-bearer of IMBS teachers association.

He said the university administration had also called police to pressure them to call off the strike but it won't deter them. The news

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NUML 'resolved' issue
Islamabad: National Assembly's Standing Committee on Education is likely to write a letter to President Zardari who is also the Chancellor of National University of Modern Languages (NUML) to inquire into the incident of thrashing of a lecturer by the university registrar.

The committee, which is likely to meet on February 25 after the current National Assembly session is prorogued, would discuss the issue though, apparently, the issue is resolved after the resignation of Brig (R) Obaidullah Ranjha yet the committee does not think it sufficient and would pursue the matter further.

The beating of a lecturer, Tahir Malik by NUML Registrar Brig (R) Obaidullah Ranjha over a petty issue had sparked protests at the campus which later compelled the registrar to resign. The committee has also asked the university to present a report of the incident.

Abid Sher Ali of PML-N, the Chairman of the committee informed "The committee has also summoned the Interior Minister Rehman Malik as he has played a role in the matter. All the people concerned would be required to give their opinion of the issue and the president in his capacity as Chancellor is also answerable to the committee for all the illegalities going on at the campus."

Besides the NUML issue, the committee would discuss the compulsory school attendance bill to make primary level education compulsory in all the provinces as currently, three provinces have been following the bill but in Balochistan it is not being followed.

The committee would also review the role of Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (PEIRA), which regulates private schools and issues of teachers working there. The nation

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Madrassa students
Islamabad: All 'madrassa' students are not suicide bombers but every suicide bomber hails from a 'madrassa', said Dr. Fouzia Saeed, head of Mehargarh.

She was speaking at a discussion on 'Women's perspective on militancy, security and fundamental rights and role of women in peace-building' organised by the Insani Haqooq Ittehad at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute here on Friday. The discussion was arranged in connection with National Women's Day.

National Women's Day is observed to commemorate the brutal and violent attack against a peaceful demonstration organised by Women's Action Forum at Regal Chowk, Lahore, by state agencies on February 12, 1983, injuring dozens of participants, including Habib Jalib, Bushra Aitzaz, Aitzaz Ahsan, Nasreen Azhar, Asma Jahangir and Hina Jilani.

Talking about the role of 'madrassas' in terrorism, Dr. Fouzia Saeed said that Islamabad has 305 'madrassas'. She said that keeping in view the economic background of the capital residents, the city does not have so many parents who would be forced to send their children to seminaries due to poverty.

She said that people from far-flung areas like Kohat and Bannu join 'madrassas'.

She said that the ideology of militancy uses 'madrassas' as breeding grounds for extremists, militants and suicide bombers. She called for an in-depth analysis of the role of 'madrassas' in spreading violence. She observed that seminaries are established at any place found unused, including greenbelts. She referred to Islamabad's master plan, which envisaged only one mosque in a sub-sector and one at the 'markaz' of a sector but religious institutions were violating the master plan openly right under the nose of civic bodies and law enforcement agencies.

Farzana Bari said that 'madrassas' were being built along highways, including GT Road, and seminary students could take over roads whenever they like.

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Riphah TiE seminar
Islamabad: Riphah International University (RIU) in collaboration with the Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) would hold a seminar on 'Creating a Culture of Innovation in Companies' here today (Saturday).

The seminar is aimed at providing a roadmap for the organisations operating here including academia and corporations to create culture of innovation with an entrepreneurial mind-set. The seminar would discuss the education of the knowledge workers and the academia's role in this regard.

Advisor to the Prime Minister on Information Technology and Telecom Latif Khan Khosa would be the chief guest.

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UoP post appointment
Peshawar: A local court here Friday stayed appointment against the post of assistant professor at the Institute of Education and Research (IER), University of Peshawar (UoP) till further orders in the case.

The court of civil judge Faryal Zia Mufti directed the defendants including the University of Peshawar not to place recommendations of the selection board for the post before the university syndicate.

Besides, the court issued notices to all the defendants including the selection board and university syndicate to explain their position in the case. The court was taking up a suit filed by a lecturer of IER, Muhammad Rauf, through Barrister Adnan Saboor Rohaila, wherein he contended that he joined the University of Peshawar in 1995 and as per old criterion he attained eligibility to become an assistant professor in 2001. However, he said the posts were advertised in August 2008. He said that being eligible for the post, he applied for the job, adding that while the interview was yet to be conducted, he came to know in January 2010

that the scrutiny committee declared another candidate Dr Aqal Zaman, a PhD in Botany, eligible for the post against the normal practice and rules.

The plaintiff said he filed an objection petition/review on January 25 against the

decision of scrutiny committee. He said that instead of reviewing the eligibility or deciding the application, call letters were issued on January 30 asking the aspirants to attend the interview on February 10.

The petitioner prayed for an order to maintain status quo "as the selection board has conducted interview associating an ineligible candidate." Besides, he requested the court that any recommendation shall be stayed to be tabled before the University of Peshawar syndicate which was due to meet on February 13 (today). The news

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