Punjab education boards employees protest

Police crack down on employees of boards
Lahore, Feb 24: Refusing to put up with prolonged protest by employees of the education boards in Punjab any more, the provincial administration has ordered crackdown on those taking to the street.

The police on Tuesday arrested scores of board employees, in some cases their kin, at Lahore and other major stations to stamp on the protests. Employees of the eight boards have been in a protest mode for the last two weeks to press the government for releasing grant equal to the examination fee waiver given to the matriculation students.

The police also registered FIRs against board employees in some divisional headquarters. The higher education secretary tried to create an impression that the federation had called off the strike, though board employees federation leaders said the strike was very much there and that any decision would be taken on Wednesday.

Khalid Javed Niazi, who heads the Employees Federation Boards of Intermediate and Secondary Education, Punjab, said hundreds of boards' employees had themselves gone to police stations to court arrest. He said some 200 employees had gone to court arrest in Multan, but the police detained only 10 employees.

Similarly, he said, seven employees were arrested in Dera Ghazi Khan, three in Gujranwala, two in Lahore and one in Faisalabad.

Mr Niazi said that the strike was continuing and they would take a decision on Wednesday morning.

BISE, Lahore, Employees Welfare Association President Chaudhry Muhammad Aslam Gujjar, however, said the police had arrested 70 employees across Punjab. On Monday, the Punjab government had issued show-cause notices to 85 boards' employees who were leading the pen-down strike after suspending work, jeopardising the conduct of matriculation examination scheduled for March 13.Meanwhile, the Higher Education Department continued to ensure that the staff hired from universities, colleges and schools should reach board offices and re-start the process to hold the examination on time.

Punjab Higher Education Secretary Ahad Khan Cheema claimed that the Rawalpindi, Sargodha and Bahawalpur board employees had resumed their duties. He said the government would ensure that the examinations are held on time.

Mr Cheema said the arrested employees would be released soon after the federation would call off the strike.

Faisalabad: The Civil Lines police of Faisalabad arrested Education Board Welfare Association Vice-President Rana Asghar when he was protesting outside the board, along with his colleagues.

A heavy police contingent was deployed outside the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, Faisalabad to prevent demonstration. The police also stopped the board employees from entering their offices.

Gujranwala: Law enforcers raided EBWA chairman Chaudhry Bashir Ahmad Cheema's place for his arrest in connection with the Monday midnight strike but found him missing. They, however, picked up his son Osama, a ninth-class student, and locked him up at the police station.

They also apprehended association senior vice-president Hassan Muhammad Shahzad and former information secretary Faheem Hassani. Reports said Osama was later released on the intervention of an SP.

Meanwhile, the Gujranwala board employees continued their strike on the 14th consecutive day outside the board complex. They chanted slogans against the government and demanded that "all our genuine demands should be met".

The board administration hired the services of schoolteachers for sending the roll number slips to matric candidates for their annual examination.

Bahawalpur: The police were in action also in Bahawalpur as they stood alert outside the BISE campus. They asked the board employees to call off the strike.

The administration locked the offices as the protesting employees held a meeting at the nearby agriculture department's nursery. Later, they disappeared to avert arrests.

In a press release, the employees association announced that they would continue their strike. They alleged the board authorities had disconnected their water connections at the residential quarters.

The association president, Sajid Ijaz said show-cause notices had been served on 12 employees besides himself. They include secretary-general Ijaz Hussain Akhtar, deputy finance secretary Sajjad Randhawa, Muhammad Boota, Asim Khan, Abdul Rashid, Shahid Shaheen, Khalid Ghafoor, Yaqoob Bhatti, Khalid Ayyaz, Muhammad Kashif and Abdul Rashid Sial.

Multan: The district police took into custody scores of BISE employees. Board's union secretary-general Malik Nisar put the figure of those arrested at 500.

He said the police tried to arrest the union office-bearers, but all the board employees presented themselves to the police for arrest. The government, he said, was employing mean tactics to harass the board employees. The protesters would, however, not budge an inch from their position.

Gulgasht DSP Atiqur Rehman said 210 board employees had been brought to the police station and the DCO ordered detention of 10 of them. If the protesters would not give assurance of ending the strike, he said, the police would institute a case under section 188 against the remaining ones as well and send them behind the bars.

In the meantime, the clerical staff of colleges and universities took charge at the board office for a short time but later joined the board employees in their protest after denying work.

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LHC dismisses pleas of sacked college principals
Lahore: The Lahore High Court on Tuesday dismissed writ petitions of different college principals, challenging their suspension over showing poor performance in BA/BSc exams.

Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman held in his judgment that the writ petitions were not maintainable being premature. The court also observed that all the petitioners had admitted that they delivered poor performance in exams.

Previously, the court had stayed the suspension of more than three dozen principals, including MAO College Lahore and Government Postgraduate College TT Singh. Petitioners Prof Zafar Mohsin Pirzada and others submitted in their separate petitions that they were not responsible for the bad results in the examinations. They pleaded that the decline in the performance was the result of the Punjab University's policy because their colleges were bound to complete the syllabus of two years within 10 months.

The petitioners also pointed out that the shortage of staff was also a main reason for the poor result. Against their suspension, they took a plea that they neither committed any negligence nor violated any terms and conditions of the profession. Later, the Lahore High Court reserved decision on an appeal of International Islamic University seeking equivalent certificates from Inter Board Committee of Chairmen (IBCC) for its students having diploma in associate engineering.

A division bench of the LHC, comprising Justice Asad Munir and Justice Ijaz Ahmed, reserved its verdict on the intra-court appeal filed by IIUI though its lawyer Rehanud Din Golra after hearing arguments from both sides.

Making secretary ministry of education and secretary IBCC as respondents the head of the Iqra Centre for Technical Education, an affiliate institute of IIUI maintained that the LHC in its earlier decision could not appreciate certain facts.

The university maintained that the IBBC had decided in November 2007 to recognise the diploma in associate engineering as equivalent to FSc pre-engineering after getting comments from National Institute of Science and Technology and National Vocat-ional and Technical Education Commission but withdrew its decision in July 2009.

In his argument the lawyer maintained that since the university was authorised to introduce technical courses after thorough inspection of its curricula and laboratories, the IBBC under the law should recognise the diploma equivalent to certificates. If it was not recognized, 2,000 students of the university would suffer as they could not be able to either get further admission or jobs in other countries.

On the other hand, the IBBC contended that the university should first get its institute affiliated with any examination board and the examination should be conducted by the board instead of the university. The DAE students can be given equivalence only if their examination was conducted by a board. Dawn

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Fake UET notification
Lahore: Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, taking serious notice of the fake notification regarding appointment of acting vice-chancellor of the University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Lahore, has directed the IG Police, Punjab, to investigate the matter and take strict action against the person involved.

According to a handout issued on Tuesday, the governor took notice of the issuance of a fake notification by an anonymous person having emblem of the Governor's Secretariat to the media.

The spokesman for the Governor's House also requested the media to verify the facts before publishing or telecasting any misleading news.

According to the fake notification, a UET faculty member Prof Dr Yousaf Awan was appointed the acting VC for a period of six months.

It is pertinent to mention here that tenure of the incumbent UET VC Lt Gen (r) Muhammad Akram Khan is going to expire on February 28, 2010. As per the tradition in practice, an acting VC is appointed till the time the VC Search Committee finds a suitable candidate and a permanent VC is appointed.

The officials of the Punjab Higher Education Department are of the view that appointment of the acting VC is made on advice of the chief minister while a notification is issued by the department.

The Monday's notification had also created unrest among the officials of the department who had termed it illegal. The news

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PILAC Urdu speaking officer
Lahore: The Punjab government has appointed an Urdu speaking officer who is not at all familiar with the Punjabi language as the head of the Punjab Institute of Language, Art and Culture (PILAC), sources said.

Dr Liaquat Ali Niazi, the director general of PILAC, retired from active duty last week. Although Niazi was a District Management Group (DMG) officer in BS-20, he was known to have considerable knowledge of the Punjabi language, art and culture.

Sources said he could fluently speak and write Punjabi. On his retirement, the Services and General Administration Department (S&GAD) assigned the additional charge of PILAC director general to Punjab Archeology Director General Haroon Ahmed a DMG officer hailing from Karachi. "Haroon cannot speak or write Punjabi," the sources said, adding that the new director general was also unaware of the province's art and culture.

An S&GAD official said the PILAC director general handled administrative issues and had no concerns with the promotion of the Punjabi language, art and culture. However, the sources said the Punjab government had established PILAC and entrusted it with promoting and developing the Punjabi language and art and culture in the province.

It was also responsible for advising the government on all policy matters related to promoting Punjabi, art and culture in the province. Daily times

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UAF international conference
Faisalabad: Deficiency of micronutrient malnutrition is one of the major causes of deaths among children and women in Pakistan.

This was claimed in a report jointly launched by the World Health Organization, World Bank, Unicef, USAID and Micronutrient Initiative Pakistan (MIP), at the second day of the three-day international conference on "Recent advances in human nutrition with special reference to vulnerable groups," at the University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) on Tuesday. The report titled "Investing in the future: A united call to action on vitamin and mineral deficiencies".

Addressing the gathering, MIP director Dr Noor Ahmad said iodine deficiency disorders were the most pressing micronutrient deficiencies facing Pakistan today. He said almost two-thirds of school-going children were iodine deficient, resulting in their Intelligence Quotient (IQ) scores being 13 IQ points lower as compared to children living without iodine deficiency. He said these disorders were entirely preventable.

"Other micronutrient deficiencies in Pakistan include iron-deficiency anaemia in more than half of school-age children, leading to reduced learning capacity and poor school performance, and iron-deficiency anaemia in almost a third of pregnant women, putting them at greater risk of mortality during childbirth," he added.

He said vitamin A and zinc deficiencies were also considered major nutritional and public health problems that affected millions of under-five children and women.

UAF's National Institute of Food Sciences and Technology (NIFST) director-general Dr Faqir Muhammad emphasised the importance of vitamins and minerals in addressing micronutrient malnutrition. He said continued support and commitment of all partners, including the government, food industry leaders and health and development agencies were needed for the control of micronutrient deficiencies in the country.

The report drew attention to the urgent need for action from all levels of government, health and development agencies and the Pakistan community to demonstrate their commitment to children and women in the country by increasing investment in life-saving vitamins and minerals.

Deputy-director (general nutrition) Dr Baseer Achakzai said: "Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are having a profound effect on our country's people, communities and the economy."

He appreciated the efforts of all partners in contributing towards the improved health status of the population and he assured that the health ministry would make best use of this support.

Representatives of the organisations which produced the report were also present. Dawn

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