Pakistani universities budget, funds

No financial cut on funds for universities
Islamabad, Feb 24: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani Tuesday said there would be no cut on the budget allocated for the universities despite the serious financial crunch the country was facing.

Addressing Vice Chancellors of around 70 public sector universities from all over the country here at the Prime Minister House, Gilani however asked them to improve the quality of education to match international standards.

The prime minister said the government has allocated an amount of Rs 31.57 billion for the education sector during the current budget and said the Education Policy of 2009 envisages an allocation of 7 percent of the GDP by 2015.

"We will ensure that funds for education, particularly the higher education, are available," Gilani said and added "even under extreme financial crisis we have made a commitment not to cut education budget."

He said he has also got an assurance from his finance minister that there would be no cut in the education budget and the universities can continue with their capacity building and future expansion programs.

He said the Education Policy was finalized in consultation with all the stakeholders and aims at taking the country forward and help it meet all future challenges.

Gilani said the government accords top priority to education and health sectors and would ensure that enrollment is tripled over the next six years.

He vowed to take education to the doorsteps of the people and said more universities and their campuses would be opened in far off areas of Balochistan and Sindh.

The prime minister urged the Vice Chancellors to work with the government and help exploit full economic potential of the country.

He however pointed to the need of improving the quality of education being imparted by these universities as their rating has declined internationally.

The prime minister said the success of the country depends on the success of its education sector and said it was vital to help the country overcome the challenges it was facing.

He said the private universities were doing better than the public sector ones in imparting modern technologies and this needs to be emulated by the public sector universities.

Later during an interactive session the prime minister to an appeal by the Vice Chancellors assured that the federal government agencies and the provincial government would be tasked to track the whereabouts of Dr Latifullah Kakakhel, Vice Chancellor of the Kohat University of Science and Technology, who was abducted over three months back.

He said law and order were the top priority and pointed that the country was passing through difficult times and was engaged in the war against terror.

The prime minister said his fore fathers had done a great deal for the education sector and added that "education is an obsession with our family and will continue to further improve it." APP

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No proper transport facilities for Students
Rawalpindi: Students in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi are facing transport problem, as hundreds of educational institutions have no proper transport facilities.

While a large number of students coming from the suburbs of the city to their respective schools and colleges have to face inconvenience in packed public transport besides the maltreatment by drivers and conductors.

Several students shared their sufferings while travelling to their institutions.

"The school and college buses ply only on specific routes and I always use local transport to reach my college," said a student, Taseer Khan. He said this is one of the major problems for all those who come from far-off areas.

Students complained that majority of the local transporters do not stop their vans when they see students waiting.

Sanam Ali, a student, said due to financial problems, she couldn't pay full fare of the van, while the transporters do not allow student concession. She said girl students particularly have to wait for a long time to find a seat due to which they often reach their college late. She demanded the authorities concerned to provide sufficient buses for colleges, especially women colleges.

Parents also complained about the rashly driven school and college vans and buses, saying that very few institutions care for the school kids by closely monitoring the mode of transport used by their students. Though a few institutions have their own pick and drop facility for students, several others are bereft of the facility.

The parents said that school pick-ups are charging Rs1,500 per child whereas school buses are taking Rs1,200 per student, adding that any parent having three or four school going kids have to pay Rs5,000-6,000 only as transport fee besides the already high school fees. The news

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AIOU daily wagers protest over job insecurity
Islamabad: Around 1, 000 daily wagers of Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) held a mini-march at premises of the university on Tuesday to press for their regularisation. AIOU Employees Welfare Association (EWA) organised the march.

The march started from the main gate and culminated in front of the Vice Chancellor's (VC) office. The participants were holding placards and chanting slogans against what they called discriminatory contractual arrangement signed with them by the university's administration.

They demanded President Asif Ali Zardari, who is also AIOU Chancellor, listen to their demands and regularise them.

The contract, which is attendance based, envisages that if there are four weekly holidays in a month and national holidays also fall in that month, daily wagers would not be entitled to any pay. "Is it our fault if there are days off in a month?" asked a protester.

EWA President Malik Saeed told journalists that they were hopeful that the elected government would listen to their demand and regularise them.

Most of the daily wagers are working at the university for the last several years but do not have job security. They can be fired any time without any justification.

Rashid Ahmed, a daily wager, said, "We do not have any legal cover. If we lose jobs we cannot go to any court of law as contractual arrangements does not protect us.

He queried that why students were charged fees, when there were so many holidays in a year. "The policy should be clear. Either charge fees from students excluding holidays or regularise us and pay us as you charge students," he added.

The protestors vowed to hold more demonstrations till their demands were met. Daily times

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FDE chief removed
Islamabad: The director general of the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) has been removed from the post for initiating an inquiry into alleged irregularities in appointments in the organisation, a source in the FDE said on condition of anonymity.

Shehnaz Anjum Riaz was appointed FDE director general on the intervention of the Supreme Court of Pakistan only about a month ago.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Education Sardar Assef Ahmed Ali, however, removed the FDE chief and posted her as head of Academy of Educational Planning and Management allegedly after she exposed some irregularities and illegal recruitments in the organisation and sent the report to the ministry.

Secretary Education Imtiaz Qazi, however, denied that she had been removed because of the irregularities she had exposed. "It is the prerogative of the federal education minister to transfer/replace the FDE director general and post the official on any position equal to it," he said.

He, however, admitted that a report about the irregularities had been received from the FDE. Necessary action will be taken after investigation into the matter, he added.

On the other hand, Ms Riaz denied that she had been removed. "I still hold the charge of DG. I have not received any transfer orders," she told this reporter.

She also maintained that the education ministry cannot transfer or appoint the head of FDE. "It is the prerogative of the prime minister," she said, adding: "I have contacted the PM Secretariat and the Establishment Division and both have denied issuing any such notification."

She alleged that the chairperson of Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education Shaheen Khan had brought some policemen and forced her to hand over the charge to her. "Ms Khan did not have any appointment orders," she said.

She said she had been posted on the seat on the directives of Supreme Court and would approach the apex court again if she was removed. About the report of irregularities, she said it had been sent by the FDE administration officer.

However, the secretary education said her transfer order had been issued. She has received the same and joined her new post of Director General Academy of Educational Planning and Management.

Ms Riaz was appointed as the FDE chief about a month back after winning a case in the Supreme Court.

She approached the apex court in 2001 when the previous government of Pervez Musharraf superseded her and appointed Brigadier (retired) Maqsoodul Hassan on the post. Mr Hassan was given extension three times and held the post till the downfall of Musharraf.

When the present government came into power, it also denied Ms Riaz her due right and appointed Shaista Pirzada, the principal of Islamabad College for Girls F-6/2, as the FDE head. On the intervention of the apex court, she was sent back to her college and Ms Riaz posted as FDE DG. This reporter tried to contact Sardar Assef Ahmad Ali but he was not available for comments. Dawn

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HEC degrees awarded
Islamabad: As many as 48 scholars were awarded with degrees in the second convocation ceremony organised by Higher Education Commission (HEC) for students completing their MS-Engineering studies from three leading universities of South Korea.

The students had proceeded in February 2008 to three leading universities of South Korea - Hanyang University, Seoul National University and Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST).

Under this scholarship programme, HEC scholars have studied and been doing research in 12 major fields of engineering, relevant to the industrial sector of Pakistan. All these scholars have at least written one research paper/conference presentation in an international journal/paper. Some of them have produced world-class research papers, which have been accepted for publication in internationally recognised journals.

The students, who were awarded with degrees on the occasion, included the names of Atif Pervaiz, Attique ur Rehman, Baber Khan, Mohammad Imran and Mohammad Saqib Ali from Seoul University, while the scholars of KAIST included Ali Shahid, Mohammad Amjad Hammad, Mohammad Usman, Naseem Qaiser and Wasif Farooque Ali Shahid.

The scholars from Hanyang University were Abdul Razaq, Abdul Rehman, Ayaz Hussain, Imtiaz Madni, Irfan Ahmed, Jawad Ahmed, Khurram Amin, Mian Ashfaq Ali, Mohammad Adil Ansari, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Suleman Haider, Mohammad Shahid Ansari, Mohammad Shoaib Khalid, Mohammad Yousaf Ali Khan, Mohammad Nauman Zahid, Ramesh Kumar, Mohammad Imran Hassan, Shahzad Khan, Shakaiba Majeed, Shanawar Hamid, Sohail Ali Naqvi, Sultan Daood Khan, Syed Haider Abbass, Tipu Sultan, Zafar Bader Khan, Zahidullah and Zeeshan Ahmed.

A delegation from Hanyang University specially came to Pakistan to confer the MS-Engineering degrees to their scholars.

Ambassador Republic of the Korea Shin Un on the occasion appreciated HEC for successfully continuing the programme since 2006 that aims to prepare high-tech workforce for Pakistan's industry. "These scholars have studied at leading institutions of South Korea, where they had the opportunity to work on real life projects with leading Korean industries such as LG, Samsung, Daewoo, Hyundai, etc," he added.

The ambassador said the HEC scholars have given tremendous performance and asked the successful scholars to act as the proponents of Pak-Korea friendship and play a catalytic role in furthering the existing trade and industrial relationships of the two countries.

To date, HEC has sent 177 engineers to South Korea, currently studying in six top universities of the country. The final batch of 23 scholars will proceed to Korea by the end of this month.

Chairman HEC Dr Javaid R Laghari thanked the Korean government for providing excellent opportunities to the Pakistani scholars. "We hope that whatever our scholars have learned from Korea will benefit Pakistan's industrial sector in its promotion and advancement," he said.

He mentioned that the prime minister, in a meeting with the vice chancellors, assured that there would be no funding cuts in the budget of higher education sector. "The prime minister assured full support to the education sector and said there would not be a cut down in HEC's budgetary allocation in order to enable the Commission in not only sustaining the education system but also its own growth," he added.

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FJWU Orientation session
Rawalpindi: An orientation session was held here Tuesday at Fatima Jinnah Women University (FJWU) to welcome the newly admitted graduate students (session 2010-12) and enlighten them about the rules and regulations of the institution.

All the deans and department incharges were present on the occasion, with Vice Chancellor FJWU Prof Dr Saeeda Asadullah Khan in the chair, who congratulated the students for becoming a part of FJWU.

Addressing the newcomers, she said that being the country's future leaders, it is their collective duty to make it progress and excel in all fields. She said the University is named after the beloved sister of Quaid-i-Azam and its vision has been crafted according to the great leader's vision.

She advised the students to work hard and stress upon developing strong commitment and full devotion towards their studies. "Now, you have committed not only to excel in academics but also to become good human beings, as you are the future hope, so carry the torch high in darkness, too," she added.

All the department incharges were introduced to the students to make them familiar with the mechanism of the University.

Dean Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences Prof Dr Samina Amin Qadir briefed the newly enrolled students about the University's environment, its activities, disciplinary rules, curricular and extra curricular activities, and advised them to adopt a well groomed and responsible attitude towards their country, community, institution and themselves.

Incharge Education Department and Controller Examination Dr Mussarat A Sheikh briefed the students about the University's examination system, while Nighat Raza highlighted different scholarships and financial assistance available at the University.

Chairperson Department of Communication Sciences and Incharge Campus Radio VOW (FM 96.9 Mhz) Dr Shamim M Zaidi told the students about the University radio station and encouraged them to join it to polish their hidden talents.

Director Sports and Chairperson Mathematics Department Dr Surriya J Mehmood, University Medical Officer Dr Huma Jahangir, and Placement Officer FJWU Humaira Sadia also spoke on the occasion and informed the students about future job opportunities.

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Dual degree programme
Islamabad: Comsats Institute of Information Technology (CIIT) launched a dual degree programme in collaboration with Lancaster University, UK at an event held in London, says a press release issued here Tuesday.

The event was attended by Federal Minister for Science and Technology Muhammad Azam Khan Swati, who is also Chancellor of CIIT, and Sir Christian Bonington CBE, Chancellor of Lancaster University, UK.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed by CIIT Chancellor Muhammad Azam Khan Swati and CIIT Rector Dr. S M Junaid Zaidi (S.I.) on behalf of CIIT and Professor Paul Wellings, Vice Chancellor Lancaster University and Professor Bob McKinlay, Deputy Vice Chancellor Lancaster University on behalf of their institution.

Muhammad Azam Khan Swati lauded CIIT's efforts for this landmark achievement and emphasised the need for similar collaborations in higher education programmes in future and said that the dual degree programme would tremendously benefit Pakistani students. The programme would also help strengthen educational standards and systems at CIIT.

The minister also announced a major investment for funding scholarships for students who would enrol in the dual degree program. This collaboration will enable 250 Pakistani undergraduate students to get enrolled in the country's first dual degree programme, starting from the Fall Semester (August 2010) in which Lancaster University degree programmes will be conducted at Comsats Institute of Information Technology's (CIIT's) Lahore Campus. The news

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