Islamabad: Higher Education Commission (HEC) has written a letter to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) asking the later to provide original degrees of three lawmakers including Federal Minister for Labor and Manpower, Syed Khursheed Shah, Geo News reported Thursday.

The HEC has asked the ECP to provide the original degree of LLB of the minister he received in 2002 from Sukkur.

The letter also demanded true educational documents of MPAs Habib-ur-Rehman, Zahoor Khosa and Iqbal Langrial because the photostate copies provided by them are not legible. The news

Karachi: Federal Minister for Education Sardar Aseff Ahmed Ali has said that Higher Education Commission (HEC) is carrying out verification of (parliamentarians’) degrees in violation of the Constitution.

Talking to Geo News, the Education Minister said it is the Education Ministry that is authorized to undertake the review of the degrees.

He said the HEC should have sought permission from the Education Minister prior to embarking on the exercise of verification of the parliamentarians’ degrees.

“A high level commission, also comprising members of the Law Ministry, will be constituted to carry out review of the HEC verified degrees,” Sardar Aseff told Geo News.

He said he is accountable to the parliament not to HEC.

Islamabad: Higher Education Commission (HEC) rubbishing Education Minister’s statement Thursday clarified that it is HEC that is authorized to verify the degrees.

In a statement HEC spokesman said, HEC is fully authorized, under Ordinance 2002, to carry out verification and scrutiny of the degrees.

He termed Aseff Ahmed Ali’s challenging the powers enjoyed by HEC as incomprehensible.

The spokesman said HEC functions under the Prime Minister and not the Education Minister.

HEC vs Education Ministry

HEC, Education Ministry at loggerheads
Islamabad, July 23: The heads of Higher Education Commission and the Education Ministry are at loggerheads, as the process of degrees’ verification of the Parliamentarians has further deepened with their statements against each other.

The Federal Minister for Education Sardar Aseff Ahmad Ali said that the report on the MPs’ degrees could be reviewed again, as it was not the Higher Education Commission’s domain to verify the degrees. He added that the report would be sent to the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Education after consultations with the Law Ministry. He was speaking to media persons at a seminar on education sector budget on Thursday. The Minister said a committee could be formed to review the report prepared by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) on the MPs’ degrees.

He said before scrutiny of the degrees of the MPs the Education Ministry should have been consulted and by ignoring the Ministry in this regard the HEC Chairman, Dr Javaid Leghari, has violated the rules of business of the Parliament.

He said though the Commission is an autonomous body, the competent authority is the Ministry, as it is answerable to the Parliament in all the matters not the HEC. He said they are not against the verification processes of the lawmakers’ degrees but it would be done according to the verdict of the Supreme Court.

He said Abid Sher Ali doesn’t have mandate of the Committee to start the verification process and if he wants to become a hero then he should quit the Committee chairmanship and join the media. He was of the view that the Parliament could not intervene in the matters of the executive and Abid Sher Ali could not dictate the Government-run institutions.

Meanwhile, the HEC while responding to the statement of the Minister has issued a statement saying that the Commission is the sole authority to verify any degree.

It said the HEC is the sole authority to recognise any degree issued in Pakistan or abroad and it is performing its responsibilities exactly in accordance with the rules and procedures of the Government of Pakistan.

About recent media reports regarding function of the HEC with respect to the verification of the degrees, it clarified that the HEC is an autonomous body with the Prime Minister as the controlling authority, it added.

Its primary responsibility is to formulate policies, guiding principles and priorities for the institutions of higher education for promotion of socio-economic development of the country. The powers and functions of the Commission, as per Ordinance LIII 2002 includes, amongst others, “Determine the equivalence and recognition of degrees, diplomas and certificates awarded by institutions within the country and abroad.”

Meanwhile, Abid Sher Ali has also criticised the Minister for giving statements against the verification process. He challenged the authority of the Minister for keeping the record of the degrees due his controversial position. The nation

UHS uploads entrance test answer key on website
Lahore, July 22: The University of Health Sciences (UHS) on Wednesday uploaded the answer key of the entrance test for admission to medical and dental colleges of Punjab on its website.

UHS Vice-Chancellor Prof Husain Mubashar Malik said the answer key had been released for the candidates, enabling them to calculate their score on the carbon copy of the response form with the help of the answer key.

“The UHS has uploaded the answer key on its website to facilitate the candidates appeared in entrance test for 2010-11 to get correct results,” Prof Malik said.

Around 32,000 candidates took the entrance test for admission to medical and dental colleges of Punjab on Tuesday.

About the A-level candidates’ claims that some questions were out of course, the UHS vice-chancellor said that release of answer key to entrance test had dispelled the impression that the examination process had flaws.

Giving reference of a decision given by the Lahore High Court on Dec 3, 2009, Prof Malik said the court had dismissed the petition filed by A-level students in which they had claimed that the entrance test for the year 2009-10 was out of course. He said the court had examined the record and statements produced in the court from both sides and finally gave decision in the favour of the UHS.

The vice-chancellor also referred to an excerpt from the verdict which said: “As regards the questions on which the objection has been raised that those are out of the course or syllabus, it may be held that the respondent-university has provided us the complete details of the relevant questions and the reference books/material from which the test has been prescribed. From such books we do not find that the grievance of the petitioners is well founded and genuine.”

HSC-II (home economics) results
KARACHI, July 20: The Board of Intermediate Education Karachi will announce the results of the Higher Secondary School Certificate part-II, home economics group on Wednesday (today), according to an announcement made on Tuesday. App

for result Click now

HSC-II (home economics) results
KARACHI, July 20: The Board of Intermediate Education Karachi will announce the results of the Higher Secondary School Certificate part-II, home economics group on Wednesday (today), according to an announcement made on Tuesday. App

for result Click now

Punjab Matric result on Aug 4
Lahore, July 20: The result of matriculation annual examination, 2010, will be declared simultaneously by eight examination boards of the province on August 4, 2010. Similarly the result of intermediate annual examination 2010 will also be declared by the boards simultaneously on September 4, 2010. It is pertinent to mention here that over the last few years the result of matriculation was being declared on August 1 while that of intermediate on August 15 each year. Board of Intermediate & Secondary Education (BISE), Lahore, Controller of Examinations Prof Manzur ul Hassan Niazi said the result was being declared with a bit delay this year owing to the syndicate marking which had been introduced for the first time

Pakistan’s education system deteriorating state
July: Rebecca Winthrop and Corinne Graff, both Fellows at the Brookings Institute’s Centre for Universal Education have brought out their report titled “Beyond Madrasas: Assessing the links between Education and Militancy in Pakistan.” The analysis by the authors rests its premise on the emerging body of global data showing a strong connection between education and civil conflict.
Global data has come up with evidence that the lower the enrollment rates at primary and secondary levels on the average, the more likely the risk of conflict erupting in that country. The research then seeks to look at the fact-based evidence drawn from the field in Pakistan to find a link to militancy through educational conditions.

However, despite the presence of large gaps in the empirical research evidence available in Pakistan in this regard, the report draws heavily from a number of sources and studies that have looked at the deteriorating state of Pakistan’s education system since the 1980s and its subsequent consequences to the stability and peaceful co-existence of its populace. Thus, the report highlights the power of education reform as a means of supporting security and stability in Pakistan.

It specifies the areas which should be given priority in guiding policy interventions in the education sector while seeking to create dialogue within Pakistan on the possibility of how best to use education for bringing peace and stability back to Pakistan.

In stating its purpose, the report reveals that a great emphasis was laid on the role of madressahs in being responsible for militancy to the exclusion of other educational factors within Pakistan which could be causes as well. Its findings disclose evidence which absolves madressah education from being a prime culprit in fostering militancy in Pakistan.

The analysis states that except for a few militant madressahs that did promote militancy, by and large madressah education is confined to less than 10 per cent of the school-going population of Pakistan. The prime motive of parents in opting for madressah education is religious instruction and is confined to evening classes rather than a full school day. To quote from the report, “What is often cited by parents is the importance of a religious education for instilling good morals and proper ethics. In the words of one Balochi mother, ‘Islam is a good religion, and we want our children to benefit from all it offers. It is only certain interpretations that give it a bad name.'” Nevertheless, since madressahs are affiliated with different schools of Islamic thought with a narrow pedagogy to indoctrinate, sectarian violence may be an offshoot of the same.

The report examines the implications of key findings that have plagued the state of Pakistan’s education sector in the past 30 years. The picture of the dire state of affairs in the educational sector leaves little to the imagination. Enough reporting has been done by donor agencies and UNESCO in highlighting the deficiencies in education provision. Pakistan comes third after Nigeria and India in the number of children out of school and educationally remains at the bottom of countries in Asia.

With continued terrorism a growing concern in Pakistan, a growing body of research is finding connections between poor education provision and conflicts in countries. Consequently, it is not surprising that the report finds that Pakistanis rank violence and extremism as their top concerns; nine out of 10 see crime and terrorism as the most serious challenge facing their country, and 79 per cent are concerned about the rise of Islamic extremism.

Historically, Pakistan has used its education system to further political gains and foster narrow worldviews. In the 1980s when Pakistan Studies was made compulsory, the books written for the new subjects tampered with historical objectivity and used the contents to give a one-sided and narrow view of the creation of the country. The stance was meant to instill a narrow and fixed view of the events. Not surprisingly, the lacklustre teaching of the subject further aggravated a tendency to rote learn and not question the written content of the books.

Instead of debate and discussion to bring out tendencies for good citizenship, a polemic and dogmatic outlook was formed in vulnerable minds. No wonder in rural settings and far flung areas of the country, the effect must have been manifold. For extremism to take root is easy when pedagogy is confined and restricted. Recent research in the UK on educating against extremism has also found that teachers’ pedagogy plays a crucial role in mitigating extremist worldviews and recommends a range of strategies around listening, open discussion and practicing critical discourse. An “extremist” worldview is one, in the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, that does not “allow for a different point of view” and encourages one to “hold your view as being quite exclusive, when you don’t allow for the possibility of difference.”

The Brookings Report underscores five mechanisms which are contributing factors for militancy in Pakistan apart from a couple of militant madressahs. These five mechanisms are as follows and the study finds one salient feature in each:

• Education management for political gain, which highlights important education-sector governance issues that appear to exacerbate core grievances.

• Poor learning and citizenship skills development, which bring issues of education quality into sharp focus illustrating the extent to which key skills are not being cultivated.

• Fostering narrow worldviews, which highlights aspects of curriculum and teaching that appear to support more pro-militant outlooks.

• Lack of relevance of schooling to the marketplace, which demonstrates the dangers associated with education systems that produce graduates with little relevant skills for available jobs.

• An inequitable provision of education, which describes the grievances inflamed by highly inequitable education systems.

No doubt nations have employed education systems in shaping social and political agendas, including identity formation and nation building. In Pakistan’s context, it has been used for narrow political gains at election times and subverting young minds to follow a narrow curriculum based on religious and political agendas. Unfortunately, the deteriorating educational standards since the ’80s contributed to a culture of rote learning in public schools exacerbating the impact of the narrow-minded syllabi on offer. The restricted worldview of the students became vulnerable to ideologies that promoted violence in the name of religion.

The report brings to light a vital factor that in Pakistan’s context aggravate the effects of a narrow curriculum. The teacher’s style of teaching varies widely between public and private schools. Accordingly “Pakistani scholars, such as Pervez Hoodbhoy, argue that many teachers in public schools use rote learning methods, asking students to memorize and recite lessons out loud and copy verbatim in their notebooks lessons written on the blackboard.”

In the context of the above, recent educational reforms under the Musharraf regime improved curriculum and brought in an open door policy in textbook production. Schools now have the choice to select textbooks but the Curriculum Wing has again become an approving body for “passing” textbooks of their choice. These textbooks will be used in public sector schools whose intake is still 70 per cent school-going children in Pakistan. However, there is little impact in the classroom of a broader curriculum and corresponding textbooks utilising new methodology. The report emphasises “an increased focus on teaching pedagogy in addressing the content of what is taught in school is an important way to contribute to a culture of peace in Pakistan.”

This is because the worldviews of students are strongly shaped by teaching. A focus on improving pedagogical approaches, including more interactive strategies that foster critical analysis and questioning, is just as important as revising curricula. The study makes known the views of parents who are forced to send their children to public schools. These parents “have a clear idea of the importance of teachers, versus school buildings or supplies, in providing a high-quality education. The majority of parents surveyed thought that schools without dedicated teachers but with very good infrastructure or free school supplies were “bad” or “very bad.” Close to 80 per cent of parents thought that those schools with poor infrastructure and no free school supplies but with dedicated teachers were “good” or “very good.”

One weak area of the Brookings study is its inadequate depth of research on the language issue that faces Pakistan and continues to radicalise groups of people who do not have access to the English language. The study says, “For example, in 1947 the new national government of Pakistan selected Urdu as its national language and the language of instruction for schooling. In this linguistically diverse country, home to six major linguistic groups and 58 minor ones, this decision was not received positively by all.”

It fails to find the underlying reasons for such a decision that it became the lingua franca of the country and a unifying factor across provinces. It does not mention the social divide caused by the rulers eventually of running two medium of instructional languages — Urdu and English — in schools and furthering the grievances of the have-nots in being denied a language that they feel advances job opportunities.

UNESCO’s many studies bring to light the feasibility of the mother tongue at elementary level to improve literacy in Pakistan. Latest studies also uncover the phenomena of learning the mother tongue proficiently up to grade five, which makes the acquisition of any further language — national, second or third — unproblematic.

Pakistan’s polity has to look deeply at the language issue as a sure way of curbing militant tendencies towards civil conflict suggested by the other five mechanisms that the study has disclosed.

The Brookings study concludes that “Although hard data on education and its links with militancy in Pakistan are limited, a thorough review of the evidence indicates that the education sector and low attainment rates most likely do enhance the risk of support for and direct involvement in militancy. Furthermore, it would be wise to assess the implications for policy, ultimately concluding that the right set of interventions in the education sector could play a significant role in mitigating militancy and promoting security in Pakistan.” -By Ismat Riaz : The writer is an educational consultant based in Lahore (Dawn)

ABOUT ITCN ASIA – Growth from a country event to a regional event

From its inception in 2001, ITCN Asia, now being organized for the 10th consecutive year, has grown up as the biggest IT & Telecom extravaganza of Pakistan. Most powerful brands of the world will showcase their state-of-the-art products and services which would allow the user community to get exposure to a wide range of technology and solutions under one roof. Most importantly, it would provide an opportunity for business-to-business alliances, leveraging their mutual strengths. ITCN Asia Exhibitions & Conferences have been playing a pivotal role in landmarking the image of Pakistan on the world IT Map, bringing in huge foreign and local investments in the Country.

Over the years ITCN Asia has grown from a country event to a regional event. Just a few years ago there were very few companies with quality certifications. Today, we have over 100 ISO certified companies, the thrust on quality was continued with two new projects targeted to take five companies to CMM level 5 and 30 companies to CMMi level 3 and above.

In addition to Quality certifications and standardization processes, the industry requires Human Resource, Space and Bandwidth. We have an approved Public Sector Development project under which training programs, tailored to the specific needs of the Industry, are implemented by the Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB). In addition to this, several other HR development programs are planned through the Telecom R&D Fund, where existing IT graduates are provided opportunity to seek apprenticeship and become more productive. Higher Education Commission created stronger Industry-Academia linkages and took other steps so that the quality of fresh graduates was improved.

Software Technology Parks (STPs) are being set up in all the major cities. In Islamabad one International Technology Park (ITP)is already in operation in Awami Markaz, while land has already been earmarked for other STPs. In Lahore, certain areas have been identified and are being finalized. In Karachi an ITP is already in operation in Caesar Tower, while, land has been acquired opposite Civic Centre for a 47 storey high IT Tower, where construction would commence soon. On the bandwidth front, until very recently, there was only a single optic fiber cable for International connectivity. Today, we have 3 separate submarine cables for International connectivity. This will provide the much needed resilience to our data networks.

ITCN Asia 2010 Exhibition is, where you will see newer & latest technologies and solutions in action. It is the foremost electronic business event for the enterprise decision makers in this region. Spanning 3 days on 3 – 5 August 2010, the Exhibition at Karachi Expo Centre, forms the core of IT Industry of the world. Yet another opportunity to showcase IT & Telecom products and interact with serious traffic, ITCN Asia 2010 is a one-stop shop where you can “test drive” all the products on your hit list. The Exhibition would serve as a comprehensive showcase of the latest in technology, equipment and machinery as well as allied services, simultaneously providing investors with a definite outlook of the regional IT & Telecom Industry and an opportunity to meet their prospective counterparts and business partners.

ITCN Asia 2010 is part of ITCN series that catapulted the local IT Industry, introducing Karachi as the regional IT hub attracting major IT players from all over the world.