Govt focusing on girls education in merged districts

KOHAT: Adviser to the chief minister on education, MPA Ziaullah Bangash has said the government is paying serious attention to the education sector, particularly girls education, in the merged districts.

A statement issued here on Monday said the lawmaker accompanied by Kohat deputy commissioner Khalid Iqbal and education officer Hashmat Khan paid a visit to the Orakzai tribal district, where he was told that a number of girls schools were under-construction.

He lauded security forces for lending help in construction of girls schools. He said education of women was the first step towards development and a civilised society.

He said in that regard awareness campaigns were also being launched to sensitise the parents to the importance of enrolling their children in government schools which were being established close to the populated areas.

He thanked the Sector Commander Southwest Brig Shehzad Akbar for taking interest in construction of government model girls high school, Samana Bazaar, government girls higher secondary school and government degree college for boys, Kalaya, in Orakzai.

POETRY SESSION: Poets enthralled the audience with their verses at a literary function organised to pay tributes to great warrior and Pakhtun leader Khushal Khan Khattak on his 330th death anniversary.

The programme was held under the auspices of Youth Welfare Committee and Khushal Khan Adabi Jirga.

A large number of poets and writers from Peshawar, Mardan, Kohat, Karak, Bannu and all over the province gathered at the function.

The function had been divided into two sessions, one was for highlighting his personality and literary contributions of Khushal Khan and second for poetry reciting.

The participants said Khushal Baba was an asset for Pakhtuns and guiding force behind the struggle for their rights. They stressed that the new generation needed to be taught about the bravery and poetry of Khushal Khan so they could know the importance of keeping their separate identity alive.

They said the Pakhtuns needed personalities like Khushal Khan who could help realise their rights.

The speakers said Khushal Khan Khattak was also called Baba-i-Pashto.

SHUHADA PACKAGE SOUGHT: The officials of forest department have demanded Shuhada package for the watchman who was killed while stopping drug smugglers from entering the Togh Mangara Safari Park, last week.

They appealed to the chief minister, secretary forest and state minister for interior Shehryar Afridi to announce Shuhada package and monthly stipend for the wife and children of watchman, Vaqarul Hassan.

Published in Dawn, February 19th, 2019

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Fulbright Scholarships program for Pakistan is now accepting applications

The United Educational Foundation (USEFP) has announced Fulbright scholarships for Pakistani students for the 2020 academic year. The deadline for applications is May 15, 2019, and the program will cover all of the expenses of the students going to the USA for the pursuit of higher studies.

The program allows students to apply for MS leading to Ph.D. programs or simply Ph.D. scholarships. Various disciplines are being offered including energy, water, agriculture, public health, education, and others. The list is extremely long and if you are interested, your degree will most likely be offered in the masters or Ph.D. program list.

Fulbright is widely recognized and is one of the most prestigious programs available to students throughout the world to study in American universities. About 1 in 4.3 applicants is awarded a Fulbright scholarship according to recent stats as per Pro Fellow. In the 2015-16 academic year, only 24% of the candidates received this grant to study abroad which clearly shows how tough the competition is.
The Fulbright Pakistan program covers travel, living stipends, health insurance, and tuition for the entire period of study, this cost can amount to a total of $30,000 or more in many cases. Minister Counsellor for Public Affairs Christopher Fitzgerald, while speaking about the Fulbright program, said that it was the cornerstone of Pakistan and USA ties:

Fulbright is not just an academic scholarship – it is a programme that produces strong leaders who return to Pakistan upon completion of their studies and make a difference in improving their communities.

You can apply for the Fulbright program on the USEFP website.

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Campus security Issues

Jamshoro is considered to be the spot of three prominent universities (MUET, LUMHS, UOS) however the sense of security is still ambiguous.

More than 50 thousand students are enrolled and huge staff is working in these three universities but no any specific proactive measures of security are provided to campuses. Various criminal activities are happening and countless security threats are being put on authorities. Recent suicide case of Lumhs student is still an enigma, bombs found on MUET’s gate, suicide case of Naila Rind and many other incidents remained unsolved. No any proper checkup can be observed at campuses, allocated security figures are unable to perform their duties properly. Students and staff are highly under the threat of criminal deeds.

A female student as a victim of harassment by mate students and teachers concludes the sense of inadequate security regarding female matters. Moreover the coming and going of strange people is frequent in campuses, everyone is free to enter and exit that is undetermined.

The bright future of Pakistan is under drastic threat of criminal and villainous play, And campuses need a shadow of stringent protection against such culprits whose motive is to destruct education.

MUNEET KUMAR

Hyderabad

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Auditors detect anomalies worth Rs38m in FDE colleges

ISLAMABAD: Auditors have uncovered irregularities worth Rs38 million in the education department of the federal capital between 1999-2009.
This was disclosed during a meeting of a sub-committee of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Thursday. The committee was chaired by former minister for defence production Rana Tanveer Hussain. The committee discussed audit reports relating to the ministry of education and the ministry of inter-provincial coordination.

Reviewing the fees received from students of Islamabad Model Colleges, officials of the education department told the committee that Rs38 million in fees was collected only from students studying in the morning shift. This money was in turn used to pay daily-wage teachers while the grants provided by the government were saved in the colleges’ accounts.
They added that ten principals who followed this practice are now either retired or dead.
The officials said that there was no room to suspect the intention of the principals as they did not deposit this large sum in their personal accounts.
Education ministry explained that the principals carried out this practice for a noble cause.
However, since fees were no longer being collected from students, the government was filling the subsequent massive hole in revenues, the ministry said.
Further, the PAC expressed its displeasure over alleged favouritism in awarding tenders for school furniture.

Auditors said that officials had ignored a lower bid during the bidding process and it resultantly caused a loss of around Rs5.836 million to the public exchequer.
The auditors recommended conducting a departmental inquiry and filing a criminal case against the officials suspected of wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, the education ministry pointed fingers towards Mustafeen Kazmi for causing the loss, adding that if found guilty, this would not be his first offence since he has previously faced jail time over such allegations.
At this, PAC member Amir Dogar suggested that the committee file another case against Kazmi. The committee subsequently directed to launch an inquiry against him.

PSB land

During the committee meeting, Capital Development Authority (CDA) Chairman and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Chief Commissioner Aamir Ali Ahmed raised the issue of 72 acres of land occupied by the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) and the construction of a host of structures on it had been pending for several years and needs to be settled as per the rules.
The CDA chief said that a number of structures, including the Gun and Country Club, the Boxing Club, baseball and hockey stadiums as well as Rehmat Hostel had been built on 72 acres of land which were not allotted to the PSB.
He, however, said that the CDA has no plans to demolish these buildings, but demanded that the civic body is paid the total value of the land.
The civic body’s chairman elaborated that as per rules, the inter-provincial coordination ministry was required to move a summary to the CDA for the regularization of the land. Once the civic authority receives the request, it will be bound to table it before its Board of Directors for a decision.
On the recommendations of the board, Ahmed said, the CDA will move a summary to the prime minister for the regularisation of the land subject to payment of the land’s value as determined by the CDA.

“The ministry is required to make a payment against the CDA land” he added.
At this, the convener of the sub-committee directed the inter-provincial coordination ministry secretary to move a summary to the quarters concerned, requesting the regularization of 72-acres of CDA land being used by the PSB.
The committee assured the ministry that government members of the committee will help in securing the PM’s approval.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2019.

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Schools unregistered by April 12 to be closed

LAHORE: Provincial Minister for Schools Education Murad Raas has said that for the first time in the history of the country, schools education department is going to introduce teacher friendly e-transfer policy.
On the other side, 20 percent fee will be refunded to the parents of the students getting education in elite private schools which are charging more than Rs5,000 monthly. Similarly, private schools will be closed down in case they fail in getting registered by 12 April.

This was stated by him while addressing a press conference in DGPR Office here Tuesday. Lahore Deputy Commissioner Ms Saliha Saeed and Director General Public Relations Punjab Amjad Hussain Bhatti were also present on the occasion.

The minister said that parents should submit their complaints on 0336-7251214 if the private schools didn’t reimburse the additional dues to them. Their problems will be solved on emergent basis, he assured. He said that private school owners should ensure the implementation of Supreme Court’s order regarding fee deduction; otherwise, legal action would be taken against them. He said that latest computer technology would be used to improve the student-teacher ratio in classrooms. This will greatly help to improve the quality of education, he hoped. He said that under e-transfer policy, teachers’ transfer will be made purely on merit and in a transparent manner. He said this initiative would help to curb the mafia which used to take bribe in posting/transfer. He said that modern software would be utilised for posting/ transfer of teachers. He said that under transfer policy, initial relief would be provided to the female teachers.

Murad said that new educational year would be started from 1st of April whereas enrolment campaign would be started on 1st of March. Similarly, summer vocation would be started from June 1st and will be continued till August 11. He said that work was speedily being done for curbing the narcotics menace in educational institutions.

He said that random blood and urine tests would be conducted and a comprehensive campaign would be launched in order to create awareness among the students. He said that cigarettes and betel-nut chewing shops in the 500 radius of schools would be closed down to save the students from such injurious things.

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Literacy centre at Adiala Jail soon

RAWALPINDI: Modernised literacy centres will be set up at Adiala Jail in order to bring the prisoners into the mainstream and to rehabilitate them through knowledge and education.

This was stated on Monday by Punjab Minister for Literacy Raja Rashid Hafeez during a visit to the Adiala Central Jail. During his visit, Hafeez inspected the condition of the prison’s hospital and the vocational centre.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 12th, 2019.

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Underpasses can be made but not schools

The only reason Balochistan always has the highest ratio of out-of-school children is because Balochistan’s government has always been neglecting the decades-long education crisis.

Balochistan is generally defined as the province which is resourceful but remains the most underdeveloped in the country. Despite realising this, there is a whopping illiteracy rate which has not only devastated the province but also our youth. According to statistics, 5.02 million out-of-school girls and boys between the ages of five and 16 remain to be enrolled in schools and Pakistan has the second highest number of out-of-school children in the world after Nigeria.

Pakistan Education Statistic 2015-2016 launched by the National Education Management Information System – a subsidiary of the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training revealed that Pakistan’s largest province – Balochistan – has the highest proportion of out-of-school children followed by the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

The only reason Balochistan always has the highest ratio of out-of-school children is because Balochistan’s government has always been neglecting the decades-long education crisis in the province and has never been sincere in efforts to increase enrolment of out of school children. The figure of 1.8 million out-of-school children, as social workers say, is projected to increase in the next year.

It must be noted that Balochistan has around 13,000 government-run schools, 2,500 of which are for girls and the other 10,500 for boys respectively. On the contrary, Balochistan is home to more than 10 million people.

Most of these schools lack infrastructure such as boundary walls, electricity, toilets and most importantly clean drinking water which raises the question: What is Balochistan government doing to provide quality education to its youth?

Even the number of qualified teachers is far too low. One can often see one teacher attending a class of far too many students under trees, since there is lack of classrooms.

According to the recent estimation of International Labour Organisation, 10 million children are estimated to be child labourers and according to estimates, 38.4 percent of the youth are estimated to be illiterate in Pakistan. On top of that, illiterate youth and illiterate children, both are obstructions to progress and peace in Balochistan.

Spontaneously, the Balochistan government started the National Testing Service which aims to give academic opportunities to students based on merit. Unfortunately, the programme could not be properly executed because of a lack of teachers.

The Balochistan government has claimed that it is giving priority to the education sector of Balochistan. It has also allocated Rs 50 million for teachers’ salaries, however teachers remain absent from Balochistan’s schools. It seems as if these teachers only exist on paper.

Last year, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was made responsible for investigating embezzlement in the Balochistan educational system. NAB took action against 400 teachers who had used fake certifications to get jobs in schools, but this will not fix Balochistan’s education problems.

It must be noted that Balochistan has around 13,000 government-run schools, 2,500 of which are for girls and the other 10,500 for boys. Most of these schools lack infrastructure such as boundary walls, electricity, toilets and most importantly clean drinking water which raises the question: What is Balochistan government doing to provide quality education?

To my recent visit in my own native village, I surprisingly found the boys and girls high school in shabby conditions. On my query, one of the students told me that they were not interested in studies because they would easily solve the paper through cheating.

While the other said, “Of what use is education to us?”

Karim, the son of a farmer in the village has a very vigorous desire to get education but unfortunately he is among that large number of Baloch who are out of schools.

One of the farmers in the village said that he had a son named Amin who had clinched the first position in Grade 1 but has never gone to school and has been addicted to drugs and snatches mobile phones, money of many people and his crimes are common in the village due to illiteracy.

A girl, Isra, after passing Grade 5, has been forced to quit school because there’s only one primary school in her village and she has to go to Tump for her higher education but her parents are very poor and both of them work and thus, she gets no one to drop and pick her from the nearby government secondary school.

There are more than hundreds of thousands of Baloch who want to pursue education but to no avail.

Despite the Article 25-A quotes, “The state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children aged five to 16 years,” the state fails to provide education to its youth. The law is quite adequate but has been neglected and thus child labour is piling up rather than coming to an end. Above all, Balochistan government does not only need to provide free education but also free uniforms so that the poorest citizens can also receive at least a basic education. On account of unaffordable uniforms, many children have been expelled from school, resulting in mind boggling illiteracy.

Balochistan is facing a number of problems and consequences such as target killings, kidnappings, street crimes, robberies, begging, suicides amongst the youth and many more, most of which are being committed by illiterate youth and illiterate children. Illiterate people, who have scarcity of knowledge, are likely to fall prey to crimes and other anti-social activities.

It may not come as surprise to most of us that terrorism, which has made life in Pakistan a living hell, is piling up owing to the exploitation of illiterate people by terrorists who use them as their ‘foot soldiers’ by manipulating religion.

We always catch news of illiterate people or youth meeting with terrorists. They join hands with the terrorists after being brainwashed on the basis of religion. Afterwards, they try to kill innocent people via suicide explosions.

Howbeit, the federal and provincial government spend millions and even trillions to buy F-16 and build underpasses, motorways and corridors but the percentage of education in Balochistan is 5 percent.

If we have a strong desire to help the poor citizens of this country occupy a good position in society, we ought to divert full focus on free education, root and branch, which not only helps poor people but also results in rooting out most of the crime-related problems of our country so that our next generations see a greater tomorrow.

Zeeshan Nasir

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Drugs Abuse in educational institutions

The use of various kinds of drugs by the male and the female students in our educational institutions must be a cause of great concern for our society generally, and for their parents specially. In the recent past, various TV channels of the country have also reported that our youth is getting addicted to various harmful drugs in the educational institutions of the country. The shocking thing that has been reported by all these TV channels is that these young students easily get these drugs from their educational institutes.
In this regard, some vital questions are: who is providing these drugs to young students in these educational institutions? Are the authorities in these educational institutes completely unaware and ignorant of such activities taking place in their institutions? If the authorities concerned know all this has been happening, then what are they doing to curb the situation?
The governments of the respective provinces should be serious on this very important and sensitive issue and the government functionaries such as Ministers and Secretaries of the Education & Universities departments should issue warning letters to the concerned authorities within the educational institutions ( schools , colleges and universities) for strictly watching the activities of their students over there.
Besides this, stringent punishments may be given to those officers of the educational institutions who are found to be involved in providing drugs to the young students in collusion with drug dealers. If the respective provincial governments and their departments failed to take timely action, it may further ruin our youth, which, by any means, would be dangerous for the healthy growth of our society.

ABDUL SAMAD SAMO
Karachi

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