School rationalisation policy

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HEC has no say in appointment of vice chancellors
Islamabad, Jan 18: After failing to get a positive response from relevant quarters, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) is gradually retreating from its proposal to appoint vice chancellors of public sector universities in provinces through an all-inclusive search committee having its proper representation, well-placed sources told this scribe here on Monday.

Sources said that the proposal was floated verbally on the basis of circumstances experienced by the HEC when politically-appointed vice chancellors of various public sector universities allegedly put hurdles in the degree verification process initiated on the directives of the Supreme Court.

According to them, the chief ministers of provinces would have more say in appointment of vice chancellors after passage of the 18th Amendment, but the issue of political interference would continue to halt the smooth process of appointing competent persons on these coveted posts.

The implementation of the clauses of the 18th Amendment would clearly show the situation, but till now a governors was the sole authority to appoint or dismiss vice chancellors so the universities were believed to face tremendous political pressure as all administrative powers of universities rest with governors.

An official said that the HEC moved a proposal to make procedural changes in appointment of vice chancellors to reduce chances of political involvement, but no representation was given to the HEC in search committees formed at provincial level.

He said that the vice chancellors were appointed by the chancellors themselves through search committee comprising five eminent scholars and citizens of Pakistan who usually sent three names to the chancellor after publication of an advertisement in national newspapers.

The job of the search committee was to collect applications from aspirants for the vice-chancellor’s job, shortlist them, conduct panel interview and suggest at least three names to the governor-chancellor for appointment of the vice-chancellor. The chancellor would then appoint one of the three persons as vice chancellor as recommended by the search committee. If the chancellor did not agree with three names then he might ask the search committee to propose fresh names.

Sources said governors enjoyed absolute authority in appointment of vice chancellors and even secretaries in the Governor House sometimes pressurised universities to appoint their candidates at open positions, admit students without merit and even alter results of examinations.

According to official data constitution of search committees for appointment of vice chancellors in provinces was accepted at the meeting of the chancellors committee headed by former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf on May 11, 2006, but when these committees were formed no representation was given to the HEC which was the sole authority to monitor and promote higher education learning in the country.

Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) President Professor Dr. Mehr Saeed Akhtar told this correspondent that the process for appointment of vice chancellors in sector universities is non-transparent and based on considerations other than merit.

“It is due to their politically-motivated appointments that vice chancellors often face political pressure so we suggest making a clear and transparent mechanism in which senior teachers should be appointed as vice chancellors of public sector universities,” he said.

HEC Executive Director Dr. Sohail Naqvi told this correspondent that it would be better if the HEC is given representation in search committees but “I believe constitution of search committees is itself a great achievement of the HEC and I hope the situation would show improvement with the passage of time.”

To a question, he said that the proposal to give representation to the HEC in search committees has not so far been forwarded in writing but they had previously talked to the relevant authorities in this respect.

Replying to another question, he dismissed the impression that governors use their political influence over vice chancellors and said public sector universities are serving the education sector in a much better way. The news

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Government to review school rationalisation policy
Lahore: After being put to pressure by Members and Speaker Punjab Assembly on Monday, provincial Minister for Education Mian Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman had to bow assuring his colleagues that government would review the school rationalisation policy, and establish regulatory authority to check private schools’ fee.

While responding to queries during the Question-Hour on school education, Shuja was also found lost when members gave him hard time, and he admitted departmental mistakes by saying, “Worthy member might have been right sir! I will check from the Department.”

The Minister had to give assurance on behalf of his government that the rationalisation policy would be reviewed when Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal also joined the members in their verbal protest over the ‘irrational’ policy since it was causing problems to the students, who had to travel miles for reaching ‘new’ institutions, which was in turn hurting the very assertion of providing education to all in a convenient manner for increasing the literacy. “Why were the elected representatives of the constituencies concerned not informed or taken into confidence for the policies that directly affect them?” quizzed the members, while the Speaker further asked the Minister, “Why had the EDO-Education not consulted the MPA concerned while merging different educational institutions?”

Members also criticised the education policy of the government and put question marks on various initiatives.

“The Daanish Schools are being opened, but the Mosque-Schools are being closed,” they added, and seeing serious objections being raised, he assured, “The government will look into its decision again.”

Moreover, to a query, he replied that the government was in the process of introducing an educational regulatory authority for tackling matters of divergent nature, especially steep fees.

“The government has already constituted a committee and its report will be presented in the House,” he added.

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UHS directed to allow nurses to appear in test
Lahore: Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed of the Lahore High Court Monday directed the University of Health Sciences (UHS) to allow 91 nursing students of a Nursing College to appear in promotion test commencing January 18 (today).

The judge passed the said direction on a petition of Saida Waheed FMH Nursing College filed through Training Programme Director Mrs Irshad Javed submitting that UHS has refused permission to nursing students to appear in the examination without any justification.

The judge directed UHS to allow the students to sit in the examination but withhold announcement of their results till final decision on the petition.

The court adjourning further hearing of the case to February 19 remarked the matter was of important nature as such decision would be taken after considering all aspects. The nation

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Indian academic speaks on quality of education
Lahore: Continuous assessment of quality of education imparted to schoolchildren on an annual basis creates ripples and stimulates people to think and find solutions to achieve the desired result, says a leading Indian academic.

Dr Madhav Chavan, the president of PRATHAM Education Foundation, India held a meeting with education reporters as he arrived here on Sunday to participate in the national launch of the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) Pakistan 2010.

Dr Chavan said PRATHAM had launched its sixth ASER India report on Jan 14 that assessed quality of education being imparted to schoolchildren
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He said there was a common feature that people keep criticising a lack of qualitative education in schools but nobody had ever tried to see what was wrong inside the classrooms. This concept led to the conduct of ASER India to measure and identify how much was wrong inside a classroom or a school.

Underlining the factors leading to low learning outcomes of students, he said, there was no continuity of policies in India and most students were first-generation learners and they had no support or literate environment at homes.

Dr Chavan said the South Asia Forum for Education Development (SAFED) and Idara-i-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) had decided to replicate the learning outcomes concept and instead of re-inventing the wheel they adopted ASER India tools with certain changes.

He said ASER was assessing students’ learning outcomes at their homes, which was altogether different from conventional assessments in schools. He said another feature of this assessment survey was that citizens were involved to do the survey because ultimately it was also the accountability of public money spending.

Stating that assessment done by citizens themselves is considered more authentic than government’s data, he stressed that this learning outcome assessment initiative could be replicated in any country. Since the ASER India was holding survey, he said, the student enrolment ratio had risen from 92.6 per cent to 96.4 per cent.

He said the ASER India had assessed over 700,000 students (3-16 years age group) in households in 580 districts across India. In each district, he said, 30 villages were selected and 20 households in each village.

Dr Chavan also told reporters that the government was offering mid-day meals to the students in public schools up to Class-VIII because many children in India come to schools without having meals. He said malnutrition was a big issue and it was necessary to provide students hot cooked food in schools. He said the government provided all the required food material and had hired cooks.

He said there could be no magic solution to improve students’ learning but it needed to be ensured that the teachers should attend their classes regularly and impart education in a manner that their students could learn.

About curriculum, he said, it was generally misunderstood as textbooks. “Curriculum is much more than textbooks and refers that what a child is supposed to learn. Textbooks are just an aid,” he said. “There is no need to centralise the curriculum,” he said.

THE Pakistan Caucus at the Harvard Kennedy School, a student body working to promote the country’s image among the international students studying at Harvard University, visited the Lahore University of Management Sciences this past week.

The 10-member students’ delegation held a dialogue with the Provost of LUMS, Dr Zafar Iqbal Qureshi, regarding public policy issues in Pakistan.The students also interacted with the deans, faculty and the LUMS student society members and discussed how the educationists and students from both countries could collaborate to reform the education system.

A presentation on the Flood Maps, which was a recent initiative taken by Dr Sohaib Khan, was given to show that how the LUMS community was conforming to social responsibility. The purpose of the trip was to give the visitors a sense of the vibrant civil society in Pakistan and how the educationists and students at LUMS were exploring new avenues to engage in collaboration to bridge the gap between the two countries.

The six-member ‘Pakistan Caucus’ students’ delegation of Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University, USA, also visited the Punjab Education Foundation. PEF’s Managing Director Mohiuddin Wani briefed the delegation on the foundation’s initiatives for the cause of providing quality education opportunities to children belonging to poor strata of society.

THE University of Engineering and Technology’s Teaching Staff Association (TSA) body for 2011 was elected unopposed last week as all contesting candidates withdrew their nomination papers.

The new elected office-bearers are: Prof Dr Muhammad Zafar Noon (president), Prof Dr Akhlaq Ahmad (vice president), Dr Muhammad Shoaib (vice president), Muhammad Burhan Sharif (secretary general), Muhammad Shoaib (joint secretary), Farhan Faisal Sheikh (social secretary) and Muhammad Amjad (treasurer).

The executive members are Dr Khurshid Aslam Bhatti, Malik Akhtar Hussain, Muhammad Arshad, Muhammad Farooq, Rakhshanda Naveed, Shaker Mahmood and Tanveer Qasim.

THE Aitchison College last week won the All-Punjab Quiz Competition 2011 hosted by the Ravians Quiz Society at Bokhari Auditorium. The contest was participated in by delegates from 19 educational institutions from across the province.

The Military College, Jhelum bagged second position and the Services Institute of Medical Sciences third position.

Chief guest Nasira Javed Iqbal lauded the students for their knowledge, saying hard work and sincerity would pay in future.

THE Lahore College for Women University won the Persian essay-writing competition and obtained second position in verse recitation competition under the auspices of the Iranian Cultural Centre, Lahore.

As many as 16 institutions including the Punjab University, the Government College University and the Kinnaird College participated in the competition.

LCWU lecturer Faleeha Kazmi says varsity’s student Maria Umar won the trophy and cash prize in the essay competition. Fiza Batool and Kainaat Azhar were awarded with certificates and cash prizes for their second position in verse recitation.

Chief guest Iqbal Salahuddin, the grandson of Allama Iqbal, presented prizes. Iranian Cultural Centre, Lahore, Director-General Abbas Ali Famoori said Persian was the common asset of Pakistan and Iran. Dawn

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