Teachers to get six months training

PESHAWAR: The elementary and secondary education department has launched a six-month intensive professional training programme for all the newly recruited teachers in the province.

According to a stamen, under the Teachers’ Induction Programme, 15,000 pre-loaded tablets will be provided to all the teachers during the training. A contract of Rs424 million has been signed between the education department and a supplier for the purpose.

The tablets will contain training videos, modules and contents through a specially designed learning management system. These sessions will be facilitated by subject experts from the Provincial Institute for Teachers Training (PITE).

It is worth mentioning that education department has completed its six months intensive professional development programme for 13,274 newly recruited teachers in the first phase.
In the first phase of the programme, 70 lead master trainers have been trained by Provincial Institute for Teachers Education and Directorate of Curricula and Teachers Education to further cascade training to 1,440 subject experts.

The master trainers have been selected from Provincial Institute for Teacher Education (PITE), Directorate of Curriculum and Teacher Education (DCTE), Regional Institute for Teacher Education (RITEs) and high and higher secondary schools.

Similarly, around 600 high schools have been designated as centres for the training of 15,000 teachers. Separate centres for primary and secondary and male and female teachers have been designated. There will be 260 centres for secondary schoolteachers and 330 for primary schoolteachers.

The induction programme will enhance teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge and their skills in the subjects of English, mathematics and science.

The programme is being enforced through an intensive blended learning model in accordance with the 21st century teaching methodology.

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2019

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Bribing your way to college? Check your math, it may not pay

Experts agree that college pays off. But at any price? More than two dozen wealthy families charged with allegedly cheating or bribing their kids´ way into elite schools are learning the hard way that crime doesn’t pay, even when higher education is the prize.

Potential criminal punishments aside, the scheme raises the question: was the premium parents paid worth the anticipated long-term economic gain for their children?

Take Bruce Isackson, president of a Woodside, California, real estate firm, and his wife Davina, who in July 2015 turned over 2,150 shares worth $251,000 of Facebook Inc stock to help get their daughter into UCLA as a fake soccer recruit, according to a federal criminal complaint. If they had just held on to those shares, they would have been worth around $373,000 today.

They later allegedly spent another $350,000 to get their younger daughter into the University of Southern California as a bogus rowing recruit.

Manuel Henriquez, a resident of Atherton, California, who until Tuesday was chairman of Silicon Valley finance company Hercules Capital Inc, and his wife Elizabeth were arrested in New York after allegedly shelling out more than $500,000 to cheat on entrance exams and fake their daughter’s tennis expertise to get her into Georgetown University.

Just imagine the calculus of the unnamed relatives of a teenaged girl who authorities said paid $1.2 million to get her into Yale University as a soccer recruit, though she did not play competitively.

And then there are the parents accused by prosecutors of paying $15,000 apiece to cheat on standardized tests to make their kids’ applications look better.

All of these were upfront costs incurred even before the first checks for tuition, room and board and other fees were written. In each case, would the crime have even paid off?

Doing The Math

Five years ago, San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank President Mary Daly – then associate director of the bank´s research department – asserted in a paper that college costs more often than not are worth the expense over the long term. A student in 2014 paying $21,200 a year for a four-year degree, she found, would break even with someone with only a high school diploma by the age of 38 and would have made a cumulative $831,000 more than that individual by retirement.

But what about the Yale student and her family, who paid $1.2 million up front and then presumably were on the hook for full tuition and room and board adding up to more than $70,000 a year? That´s an all-in tab for that degree of $1.48 million.

Using Daly’s approach as a guide and inputting updated government data on median incomes for individuals with and without college degrees, a Reuters analysis found a college grad whose $70,000 annual tuition was paid upfront would outearn a high school grad by $1.3 million over a lifetime of work, assuming each earned the median national wage for their demographic inflated over time.

But the unidentified student´s family paid more than five times the Yale sticker price after the bribe, a cost that would not be fully recovered until the child reaches age 64, assuming 3 percent annual wage growth and a one-time, 10 percent increase at age 34 to reflect higher earnings of older adults.

In many cases involving wealthy parents, future earnings may be less of a draw than the prestige of saying your offspring were at Yale or Stanford, or the lure of potential connections with influential elite-school graduates.

But had some of these parents not been caught, the payoff alone might have been worth it.

In the case of a less expensive school like UCLA, the $391,000 cost to the Isacksons – the $251,000 bribe plus $140,000 for four years of tuition and fees – would still leave a lifetime earnings surplus for their daughter of a bit over $1.2 million.

Meanwhile, for those parents like “Desperate Housewives” actress Felicity Huffman, whose total outlay in the fraudulent enterprise was just $15,000 to improve their childrens’ entrance exam scores by cheating, the payoff would have been handsome. Assuming the student graduates, the $22,000 gap in median annual pay between high school and college graduates would easily offset the extra investment.

Lawyers representing the Henriquez couple and Bruce Isackson did not respond to a request for comment. Davina Isackson could not be reached.

Intangibles

There are benefits to a degree from a top college beyond excess earnings over time. Unemployment is lower among college grads and job satisfaction is higher.

Philip Oreopoulos, an economics professor at the University of Toronto, has even quantified non-work-related benefits of a college education, including lower divorce rates, better health, and more happiness overall, even after accounting for pay differences.

“It goes way beyond financial gain,” he says, adding that he in no way endorses parental cheating, which he called “grossly unfair.”

The still-unfolding scandal highlights economic inequalities exacerbated by college admissions programs that in some cases legally give preference to children of wealthy parents, even as US students are saddled with a collective $1.56 trillion in loans, Federal Reserve data shows.

The financial analysis suggests that, in terms of money alone, at least some of the bribes and cheating would have led to a net gain – unless you consider how the money might otherwise have been invested.

The return on the median fraudulent payment of $250,000, invested at the standard 6 percent yearly return used by many long-term financial planners, after high school and through age 65 would have been $3.9 million, Reuters calculated.

And for $1.2 million – the maximum shelled out? $18.6 million.

Next time, tell your mom to just give you the money.

Published in Daily Times, March 16th 2019.

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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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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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Historical school of Larkana completes 100 years

LARKANA: The historical Government Pilot Higher Secondary School in Larkana completed 100 years of functioning here on Wednesday.

To celebrate the memorable event, students and teachers of the school took out a large rally, marching through various roads and concluded the march at Jinnah Bagh.

Principal Allah Bux Soomro told newsmen that over one hundred thousand students have so far obtained education from this historical school who are now serving the country in various capacities in Pakistan and abroad.

He said that Sindh High Court Chief Justice Ahmed Ali Shaikh, first woman deputy speaker of the National Assembly (NA) Dr Begum Ashraf Abbasi, Senator Khalid Mahmood Soomro, Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Additional Chief Secretary Roshan Ali Shaikh, World Bank Director Ali Nawaz Memon, former MNA Khalid Iqbal Memon, former Senator Dr Safdar Abbasi, ex-BISE chairman Mahboob Shaikh, Secretary Ghulam Abbas Detho, Haji Munawar Abbasi, Gilgit-Baltistan IGP Sanaullah Abbasi were also educated at this school.

He said that previously co-education was in effect here but later separate girls’ schools were established.

He said that 6,300 students are enrolled from class VI to XII at the moment for whom only 140 teachers are working to impart education in 43 classes while 27 non-teaching staff is also posted here.

He claimed that the school is one of those schools of Sindh which has the best enrollment in the province.

He further said that a 100-years festival will be organised which will be held from February 11 to February 16 during which students will participate in various stalls, exhibitions, quizzes, speech competitions while informative educational programmes will also be arranged.

“A musical night will also be held in the end in which renowned Sufi singers will perform,” he said.

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30 million children out of school in Pakistan: PEN CEO

Lahore – Pakistan is in the midst of an unparalleled education crisis. There are 22.6 million out-of-school children in Pakistan which accounts for 44 percent of all children in the country. According to Alif Ailaan, children who are enrolled in schools receive a poor quality of education, especially students enrolled in government schools. Government schools’ students lag behind their private school counterparts regarding reading and arithmetic skills. Progressive Education Network (PEN) is a non-profit organisation that is working to address the education crisis in Pakistan. Presently, PEN is providing quality education to 50,436 students through a network of 227 public schools across Pakistan.

We sat down with Dr Muhammad Najeeb Khan in PEN’s head office in Lahore to ask him about PEN’s work. Dr Najeeb has recently joined PEN as its Chief Executive and wants to see it grow across the country.

PEN CEO is a former civil servant – who previously headed different development programs, including the Benazir Income Support Program. Dr Najeeb is a medical professional with specialization in Community Medicine, but he has also spent a significant time managing human development projects in civil service.

He has had a long-term interest in primary education and brings private sector business experience and international fundraising exposure, also, his passion and vigor to this venture.
Question: What was the rationale behind the founding of PEN?

ANSWER: Progressive Education Network was founded by seven close friends; who are educationists, bankers, professionals, and people in the business.

Pakistan has the worst indicators regarding infant mortality rate, infant health, child stunting, and early childhood education in the world. There are nearly 30 million children out of school in Pakistan which has a total population of 220 million and ranks 6th in the world by population.

With an impending youth bulge in Pakistan’s population, our failure to act now can lead to grave consequences: poverty trap, sheer illiteracy, extremism, and high crime. Eighty-eight percent of the marginalized families send their children to government schools – where students lag 2.5 years behind their private school counterparts regarding basic literacy and numeracy skills.
PEN was established as a non-person centric, transparent organization that works to address the education crisis in Pakistan. We believe that given the extent of the problem, it is no longer just the government’s responsibility. The private sector will have to play an integral role in addressing these problems.

Therefore, we work under a public-private partnership model. PEN adopts underserved government schools for a minimum period of 10 years. This allows PEN to build on government’s existing infrastructure and implement reforms focusing on student enrollment, retention, drop-out, and international academic standards.

PEN model focuses on the provision and training of teachers, student learning and assessment, and character-building in addition to providing vital missing facilities.

By improving education delivery in government schools, we are able to reach the underprivileged children given that Government schools cater to low-income families.
Can you tell me how you reform government schools?

In addition to operating 227 public schools nationwide, PEN is also launching PEN Academy – an online portal with learning resources in Urdu for Pakistani children.

Our goal is to reach 1 million children through PEN-adopted schools by 2025 and have 5 million children benefiting from our learning resources through PEN Academy.

Let me explain how we transform under-performing public schools after adopting them. Before adopting a school, we conduct a baseline survey of the school. This survey includes assessing a school’s physical facilities, community engagement, net and gross enrollment, student achievement, and teachers’ evaluation. Based on this, we develop an intervention plan that addresses the shortcomings of each school. After a lot of internal debates and brainstorming sessions, we have evolved a model for a PEN school. This model lays out the number of classrooms in each school, student-teacher ratio, number of washrooms per student, etc. We compare the surveyed school to this model and devise an intervention plan.

READ MORE: US court refuses to force govt to unseal WikiLeaks founder’s case
Our academic interventions in adopted schools include the addition of teachers to reduce student-teacher ratio, teachers’ training, student assessment, student and teacher incentives, etc. It also involves imparting leadership skills to head teachers.

Under-performing government schools usually have poor physical facilities. While our focus is on academics, we also want to create an environment that is conducive to learning. Hence, PEN builds classrooms and washrooms where needed, provides clean and cold drinking water, and furniture for all students and teachers. We also appoint a maid in the school who cleans the premises twice daily.

PEN has a rigorous monitoring and evaluation mechanism. Our staff members visit schools daily and record their observations through a mobile app which relays this geo-tagged data to the head office. This information helps us to determine our performance on a regular basis.

We at PEN are passionate about life-skills training to the students and computer education. We have established computer labs in our elementary-level schools and launched a pilot project of digital learning. As part of life-skills training, we have included co-curricular activities in the curriculum. PEN students participate in sports competitions, debates, creative writing and summer camps. We organize Student Week every academic year which is a week-long event featuring inter-school competitions.
What is your core competency?

Teachers’ training. We have a very comprehensive teacher training program which is held throughout the academic year. During the summer and winter holidays, we organize longer training sessions. Internal and external trainers deliver training; external trainers come from LUMS, GCU, University of Education, etc. We have a very high attendance rate at our training programs which focus on classroom management, child psychology and improve teachers’ subject competency. We also cover interactive learning and encourage a participatory approach to learning among students.

What are your goals?

We are driven by our goal to provide quality education to a million children by the year 2025 and have 5 million children benefiting from the learning resources on PEN Academy.
What are some of the challenges you are facing?

Our biggest challenges are funding and reforming Government teachers. We are revamping our website, frequent updates on social media and better donor stewardship.

One of our continuing challenges is student retention. We see that that in Government schools you have 100 students in KG but only a third stay in school until Class 5. Most of these children drop out and start working in the fields or at small shops. The drop out ratio is even worse among girls because of child marriage in rural areas. We are addressing these issues by increasing our contact with the parents. We’ve increased the frequency of the parent-teacher meetings and are now using these meetings to highlight the benefits of education.

What do you, personally, spend most of your time on?
I am an avid reader and conduct a fair amount of research on educational initiatives around the world to learn what may work in our scenario. My interests are philosophy and comparative religion.

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Board of Secondary Education Karachi’s website hacked

A group of hackers hacked on Saturday evening the website of the Board of Secondary Education Karachi.

The group behind the hacking of the website (www.bsek.edu.pk) identified itself as ‘SMOG’.

Students use the website for exam results and details about admissions in Karachi’s educational institutions.

In January 2018, another group of hackers had taken over the website of the PTI.

The text on the hacked page stated that whether or not change comes in the PTI, change has come on the party’s website.
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Education emergency

The crisis of our school education system is much deeper than is appreciated by state authorities in Islamabad. The good news is that there is realization of the extent of the crisis in concerned quarters, i.e. education bureaucracies in the Centre and provinces. Towards the end of 2018, a very well drafted policy framework was presented to the nation by the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) government. It detailed the urgent task of enrolling 22.84 million out of school children across the country, the bulk of whom should attend middle and secondary schools but cannot because there aren’t enough such schools in the country to begin with. The framework also recognised the need to bring up the net-enrolment rates which are among the lowest in the South Asian region.

Another aspect, not stressed enough in the framework, is the gradual withdrawal of the state from provision of this key public good. A report compiled by Alif Ailaan has documented that almost 40 percent of the school-going children are enrolled in private schools. Only a fraction of this percentage attends schools that cater to the elites and the upwardly mobile middle classes, whose tuition fees have been a subject of concern for the executive and judicial authorities of the state for quite some time. After having ordered a flat 20 percent reduction in tuition fees of such schools in December last year, the apex court has now sought a report on the implementation status of its ruling.

While judicial activism of this sort can provide a temporary relief to the vocal elites and upper-middle classes, the underlying problem that has caused the mushrooming of private schools remains unaddressed. That has to do with the state’s complete abdication of its responsibility to provide a good quality education to Pakistan’s children. The role of the state in provision of education cannot be stressed enough given the public nature of the good. By surrendering this responsibility to the market, the state has become complicit in an apartheid of sorts where those with means can afford quality education for their children who get an advantage over children from poor and lower-middle class households for no achievements of their own. This means that there are next to no chances opportunities for upward social mobility available to children born into poor households or those born away from cities, and that our society has become deeply fragmented along the lines of economic class.

Therefore, the authorities in Islamabad will be best advised to be sincere to the Pakistani children and initiate a dialogue for ending this education apartheid. Temporary and ad hoc measures to cut down on tuition fees charged by private education institutes will address only the symptoms of the deeper crisis of school education. To address the crisis itself, the authorities will have to do some introspection, meaning they will need redo the public education system. Educating our children is too serious a task to be handed over to the whims of the market. *

Published in Daily Times, January 11th 2019.

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Tutors’ selection system to be revised this year: AIOU

LAHORE – AIOU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Zia-Ul Qayyum Tuesday said tutors’ selection system of the Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) would be revised from this year to enhance credibility and efficiency of the distance learning.

Addressing the university’s tutors from the Rawalpindi region on the eve of autumn semester, 2018 here, he said the purpose of revision would be to improve the evaluation and assessment mechanism of the teaching process. There would be fresh tutors’ appointments and the credentials of the existing ones would be rechecked. Their appointment might be on basis of the academic session.

Dr Qayyum said the tutorial system would be transformed to make the contents’ delivery system best one and to achieve the target of quality education.

He said being the university’s backbone, the regional campuses would also be transformed with the induction of new technology and upgrading their infrastructure network.

There would be the smart use of online teaching and learning process, he said, adding manual and human intervention would be minimal so that the efficiency of evaluation and assessment could be ensured.

He assured that there would be a fair and transparent process in the registration of tutors. He hoped that the university’s tutors, which were around 90,000 across the country, would perform their duties with a sense commitment and dedication. It was way to pay back to the country, what had been spent on them, he added.

The tutors’ meeting and briefing session were also addressed by the University’s Registrar Dr Zaigham Qadeer, Director Regional Services Inamullah Sheikh and Director Rawalpindi region Dr Malik Tuqeer Ahmed.
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Govt to introduce single curriculum countrywide

Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood says the government has decided in principle to introduce a single curriculum throughout the country to improve our national education system as per international standards.

Addressing the first meeting of National Curriculum Council in Islamabad on Wednesday, he said for this purpose all the stakeholders will be taken on board to achieve a national consensus over this issue of vital importance.

The Minister said the current multiple curriculums based education system in the country has led to create injustices and imbalances in the society.

He said the elite class of the society prefers to send their children to English medium schools with manifolds extra expenditures while the middle and lower middle classes are unable to afford such a costly education.

Shafqat Mehmood said now it’s high time to replace this trend altogether with a single certification system to evolve a national cohesion among all segments of the society.

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Education termed best tool to curb extremism

TIMERGARA: Vice-chancellor of the University of Malakand, Prof Dr Gul Zaman, has said that modern education is the best tool to eradicate extremism in society.

He was addressing the annual prize distribution ceremony of the Smart School System, Timergara, the other day. Former finance minister Muzaffar Said and the institution’s MD Faridullah also spoke on the occasion. The students presented tableaus and speeches and got applause from the audience.

Prof Zaman said that private schools were playing an active role in imparting quality education and providing jobs. He termed close coordination between teachers and parents essential for elevating the standard of education.

He asked the parents to give time to their children for education at home. He said that the University of Malakand had planned to start MPhil and PhD programmes in Education and English subjects, which would help in building the teachers’ capacity of teaching at schools and colleges. He said that three buses from Timergara to the varsity would start service from Feb 1.

TRANSFER OPPOSED: The local sports associations have demanded of provincial minister for sports and tourism Mohammad Atif Khan to cancel the transfer orders of sports assistant Ibrar Ahmad.

The demand was made during a joint meeting of different sports bodies here the other day with Shah Nasim in the chair. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Nasim said that government employees, especially from education department, were being posted in Lower Dir sports’ department on deputation leaving no space for sports’ personnel.

The meeting demanded of the government to stop appointments on deputation in sports department and cancel the transfer orders of Mr Ahmad.

Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2019

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First library opens in Darra

KOHAT: The district administration has established the first ever library in the newly-formed Darra Adamkhel tehsil of Kohat with the assistance of the National Book Foundation.

The library set up at Malik market in Darra Bazaar was inaugurated by deputy director education for tribal districts, Safeerullah Afridi on Saturday.

The programme was attended by local education officer Masood Afridi, principal of Akhorwal school Abdur Rehman, principal of Oxford school and college Mohammad Jameel, deputy director information, Kohat, Irshad Afridi and local elders.

Initially 6,000 books have been placed in the library out of which 200 were donated by the National Book Foundation.

On the occasion, Irshad Afridi said that the library had been set up with the contribution from philanthropists.

He said those nations which kept themselves connected to books never lagged behind in any field.

He said that the library was a gift for a backward area like Darra.

The local education officer said that the students could get the books free of charge and stressed that the youth should benefit from the unique facility provided to them.

He said that curriculum and Islamic books in English, Urdu and Pashto languages had been provided in the library.

Published in Dawn, October 14th, 2018

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Punjab leads other provinces in primary education: BBC

LONDON: Alif ailaan, a prominent no-government organisation (NGO) working in the education sector, has conducted a survey which has put Punjab on top regarding primary education, reports BBC.
The report, citing the NGO’s study, states that there was significant improvement in primary school admissions and the quality of primary education.

There has been a rise in the number of students in primary, secondary and higher secondary schools which is very positive for the country. If this trend is noted, then an increase of 7.7 percent in primary school enrolment, 13 percent in secondary education and 5.26 percent in higher secondary was recorded. The number of students in higher secondary schools rose from 87218 in 2013 to 546616 in 2016-2017.

The report sketches a comparison of all provinces which shows that Punjab has displayed the biggest rise in the number of students in public higher secondary schools.

The report got a lot of attention in international media because compared to 4 years ago, all provinces initiated reforms to improve the overall number of students but the result was seen mostly in Punjab. This report, though not the final authority in the matter, is an indicator that Punjab has reformed its schools and brought more children into the education system. The Economist also reported earlier that the education reforms witnessed in Punjab were some of the fastest in the region.

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Citizen reporting mobile app launched

While governments obfuscate the provision of essential services behind pages upon pages of data, real or fudged, a service was launched to empower those directly affected by the lack of services. Alif Ailaan, an education campaign which has been working for the last five years to make sure that Pakistan’s leaders understand the urgency of the education crisis, launched on Wednesday “Taleem Do!”, a citizen reporting application and an online platform in Islamabad. “Every Pakistani child deserves to be in school, and have a quality education. Do government schools provide that chance to every Pakistani child?” asked Alif Ailaan’s campaign director Mosharraf Zaidi during the launch of the application. “Voice of the people of Pakistan can change this,” he stressed. Talking about the vision behind the app, Alif Ailaan’s Head of Digital Media Imran Ghazali said that they had developed the app “to enable and empower the citizens.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2018

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AIOU to open institute in Kyrgyzstan

ISLAMABAD: Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) got the approval of the federal cabinet to set up its distance learning institute in Kyrgyzstan.

The cabinet on Tuesday approved the proposal for signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Educational Scientific Productive Complex International of Kyrgyzstan (ESPC) and the AIOU in the field of distance education.

The University has sought the approval of the cabinet through the Higher Education Commission (HEC) for signing the MoU. Vice Chancellor Dr Shahid Siddiqui on Wednesday termed the cabinet’s approval a major step forward towards the establishment of its centre in Kyrgyzstan.
HEC provides free online access to AIOU

As per the proposed MoU, International University of Kyrgyzstan (IUK) and AIOU will establish a joint distance learning institute for the benefit of their students and academic staff. The proposed institute will be set up in Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyz Republic, in support of government of Pakistan and HEC. Faculty members of AIOU will be engaged for the purpose.
Kyrgyz-Pak Institute of Distance Education will undertake academic research, publications, academic information, computational science and optimisation of applications performance on HPC systems.

AIOU will provide the technical expertise and academic support and ESPC will arrange space, equipment, and staff to run the institute.

There will be joint delivery of programs in various disciplines through online or blended learning facilities.

The two sides will also collaborate in online offering Arabic, Urdu, Russian, Kyrgyz and English, linguistics courses or other programs and to establish linguistics studies centre;AIOU will train the master trainers in Arabic and English languages to cascade the same in ESPC.

They will also explore mutually interested fields and conduct cooperative research projects, such as ICT and e-Learning programmes applications in general education and science, technical and vocational education.

AIOU’s international collaboration and exchange office in-charge Dr Zahid Majeed said the necessary process for setting up the institute will be started soon, in light of the cabinet’s approval.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2018.

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Business schools should become more agile and flexible

Karachi:
The second day of the Fifth Deans and Directors Annual Conference started off with a panel discussion, ‘Sustainable Business Schools in Challenging Times’, which addressed notions of how globalisation and market forces are impacting the business world.

The panel was moderated by Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Associate Dean Dr Huma Baqai and consisted of eminent speakers, such as IBA Dean and Director Dr Farrukh Iqbal, Karachi University Dean of Faculty of Management and Administrative Sciences Prof Dr Tahir Ali, Institute of Business Management (IoBM) President Talib Syed Karim, Iqra University Vice-Chancellor Dr Wasim Kazi, Greenwich University Vice-Chancellor Seema Mughal and IBA Sukkur Vice-Chancellor Dr Nisar Ahmed Siddiqui.

HEC’s business education council holds fifth deans’ conference

Commenting on the changing market needs, Dr Iqbal said, “The rising costs and changing market needs imply that business schools should become more agile and flexible with respect to course content, teaching methods, faculty deployment and programme duration”. Dr Iqbal added that regulations pertaining to business schools must change to allow flexibility.

Workshops on the second day included capacity building relating to refining peer review skills and deans, along with seminars delivered by European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) Director of Projects Dr Christophe Terrasse, Global Business School Networks, US Chief Executive Officer Stephen Sacca, EFMD International Projects Manager Jean-Baptiste Maillard and International Executive Service Corps, US Senior Adviser Javed Hamid.

The Fifth Deans and Directors Annual Conference, organised by the National Business Education Accreditation Council (NBEAC) of Higher Education Commission (HEC), commenced on February 5 in Karachi.

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The first day of the conference had plenary sessions and workshops that addressed many topics. Designed to increase the effectiveness of business education in Pakistan, the conference brought together more than 100 deans and directors of national and international business schools to engage in strategic level discussions.

The conference is aimed at actualising its anticipated outcomes that include developing policy and process recommendations for aligning business education with local and global needs, identifying actions to meet the emerging challenges in business education to make it more relevant for Pakistan and recommending policy framework and actions for quality improvements in different areas of business education.

The two-day conference was chaired by NBEAC Chairperson Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad, while Governor Mohammad Zubair was the chief guest.

Doha to host Qatar-Pakistan business investment moot

Concluding with the 19th NBEAC council meeting, the conference showcased well-structured plenary sessions, capacity development workshops and quality service seminars.

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More than 5000 schools in Sindh closed down since 2012

Karachi:
The number of students in government schools has decreased to more than one million in the past six years, while 23,000 schools have no electricity and 98% of them do not have labs. Though new institutions are being set up, incompetence on the part of the education department has resulted in the closure of more than 5,000 schools.
These statistics were revealed in an annual census report of the education and health departments and the education management information system.
The report said that there were 47,557 elementary, secondary and higher secondary schools in Sindh in 2012, which have been reduced to 42,383. According to the education department, this includes the closure of non-functional schools. However, after Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah’s education emergency, more than 2,000 schools were reopened.
Though there has been a decline in the number of students in government schools, an increase was witnessed in the number of teachers hired. The total number of teachers in 2012 was 1.4 million which increased to more than 1.5 million. Various technologies are being used to enhance the quality of education the world over, however, thousands of schools in Sindh do not have access to basic facilities.

CM admits to failure of education emergency
According to the report, there are more than 16,000 schools in Sindh without any boundary walls while another 15,000 schools do not have any washrooms and in more than 18,000 schools, students do not have access to clean drinking water. Besides this, there are more than 23,000 schools without electricity. Out of the total 42,383 government schools remaining in Sindh, more than 75% of the them do not have a playground while 98% schools do not have any laboratory facilities.
In addition to this, more than 41,000 schools do not have a library either. It was also disclosed that only about 14,000 schools had functional buildings while another 15,000 schools have buildings that require extensive repair work. More than 6,000 schools’ buildings have been termed dangerous while another 5,000 school buildings are without a roof.
Education experts said that the appointment of unqualified officers and political interference is the cause for decline of education in the province. An annual increase in the education budget was also witnessed and a major part of the budget is reserved for salaries.

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Over 1,000 prisoners sign up for Allama Iqbal Open University courses

ISLAMABAD:
Being behind bars does not mean on e stops academic learning. Around 1,000 prisoners in various jails of the country have signed up for the distance learning courses offered by AIOU.

This was disclosed by Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) VC Professor Dr Shahid Siddiqui while presiding over a meeting to review the varsity’s educational facilities being extended to disadvantaged groups.

The prisoners enrolled in the autumn of 2017 for upgrading their qualification so that when they complete their sentences and leave the jail, they can have an education certificate which allows them to lead respectable life in society. Dr Siddiqui said that the varsity had improved its existing facilities at jails throughout the country, providing free education to prisoners, as a part of its endeavour for taking care of marginalised sections of society.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2018.

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Free coaching classes for Buner students

BUNER: The Buner district government on Wednesday launched free coaching classes for position holding girls and boys to prepare them for the higher secondary school certificate examinations scheduled to be held in March.

The classes have been launched at the government centennial model high school, Daggar, where hostel, food and tuition facilities have been offered to the students.

Commissioner Malakand Division Syed Zaheerul Islam, Buner Deputy Commissioner Zareeful Maani, district nazim Dr Obaidullah, district naib nazim Yousaf Ali Khan, district education officers (males and females) Bakht Zada and Sadia Aliaslaunched the classes ata colourful function.

The students, their parents, teachers, social, political, religious figures, elected members and heads of government departments were also in attendance. The students also recited Hamd and Naat and presented national songs. National anthem was also played on the occasion.

The commissioner Malakand, who was the chief guest, said education played pivotal role in the society’s development. He said nations rose and fell due to their standard of education and urged the students to devote their time to studies.

He appreciated the steps taken by the district government for polishing the talent of the position holding students.

The other speakers pointed out that for free coaching classes last year the district government had provided Rs5 million, and this year Rs6 million had been earmarked for the purpose.

Published in Dawn, January 4th, 2018

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UVAS awards degrees to 1,256 students

LAHORE:

The government is committed to ensuring quality education and raising standards as its top priority, said Punjab Minister for Livestock and Dairy Development and Pro Chancellor Asif Saeed Manais.

He was addressing at the Ninth Convocation of the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS) in Lahore on Wednesday.

About 1,256 students were awarded degrees and 67 position holders were given gold medals.
Out of the graduating students, 252 were DVMs, 282 BS (Hons), 83 Pharm-D, 50 Doctors of Nutrition and Dietetics (DND), 40 MBAs, 20 MBF, 36 BBA (Hons), 157 MSc, 311 MPhil and 25 PhDs.

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The minister urged students to play their due role in nation building. He lauded the progress achieved by UVAS which had positioned itself among the 2.5% top universities of Asia, the seven best universities of Pakistan in sports and top 10 universities of the country.

He listed various initiatives in livestock and education sectors for development. A Rs2 billion project has been launched for poverty alleviation. Meanwhile, the Punjab Chief Minister’s Dairy Development Programme, under the Kissan Package, will provide Rs10 billion worth of heifers, sheep and goats to poor women.

Vice Chancellor Dr Talat Naseer Pasha spoke about the academic, research, development, extension programmes and community services of the university. He said that with a history of 135 years of excellence, UVAS has now positioned itself among the top 2.5 percentile of Asian universities as per the QS World University Rankings 2018.

As per Higher Education Commission Sports Ranking 2017, UVAS clinched fourth position among public sector universities of Pakistan and seventh among all public and private universities of the country, the VC said. He added that UVAS was also among the top 10 universities of Pakistan, according to HEC’s overall ranking of higher education institutions over the last two years.

Dr Pasha said UVAS is swiftly achieving milestones of need-based multilevel education and establishing itself as a talent development institution by using its knowledge, resources and skills for the growth of human resources. He said that this year, UVAS also secured an affiliation with the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges.

The VC informed the audience that UVAS scientists were executing 91 research projects worth of Rs1,051 through local and international funding agencies. He added the university was executing 10 development projects, worth Rs4.5 billion, being funded by the Punjab government.

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Seven of them are ongoing and three new ones were approved during the current financial year. Ongoing projects include 1) Establishment of Cholistan University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences at Bahawalpur, 2) Establishment of Training Centre for Biologics at UVAS, Ravi Campus Pattoki, 3) Development of Ostrich Farming in Punjab, 4) Propagation of Ducks Rearing in Punjab, 5) Development of Camel Milk Value Chain by adopting modern supply chain mechanism for enhancing farmers profitability in Punjab, 6) Establishment of Para-Veterinary School at Narowal and Provision of urgently needed academic block, student hostels and faculty apartments at UVAS City Campus Lahore. While the new development projects were 1) Establishment of Export Facilitation Center for livestock and poultry industry at UVAS, Lahore, 2) Inservice training facility of advance veterinary education and professional development for veterinary professionals and 3) Acquisition of land for up-gradation of Para-Veterinary School, Narowal to College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Narowal.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 28th, 2017.

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IT skills: KPITB trains over 3,000 students to programme

PESHAWAR:
In a bid to enhance the skills of youngsters, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Information Technology Board (KPITB) has trained 3,000 students of different government schools.

The training was imparted under the first phase of information technology training programme called ‘early age programming and IT essentials initiative’.

The KPITB had launched the programme in collaboration with the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Elementary and Secondary Education Department in April 2017, with the aim of preparing the next generation of the province to succeed in the global technology market.

According to KP E&SED documents, the project had launched as a pilot at 60 government schools in 14 districts across the province with the help of around 20 trainers.

The main focus of this initiative was to provide an opportunity to students to learn to programme in a fun and immersive manner.

The documents further state that with the programming skills the students were taught and their own imagination, the students managed to create hundreds of games, applications, and animations.

K-P Elementary and Secondary Education Media Advisor Ziaur Rehman told The Express Tribune that the first phase of this initiative had been completed in which 3,000 students — including 285 from just six government schools of Peshawar, from grades six through nine, were trained.

In the second phase of this programme, over 300 school students would be provided training across the province.

Rehman said that the KPITB also provided training to teachers in the IT sector.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 28th, 2017.

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Sindh govt making arrangements to install solar panels at 4,000 schools

KARACHI: In order to solve the issues of load-shedding and absence of power supply at many schools, which has adversely affected the performance of teachers and students, the education department has finalised arrangements to install solar panels at around 4,000 government schools in the province.

In this regard, the provincial government will be awarding tenders soon. Officials of the education department said that around Rs15 million has been allocated for each district in the province and private companies will be hired to install the solar panels at schools. “In total, Rs390 million has been allocated for the project, while the cost of supplying solar power to one room of a school is around Rs16,000 to Rs18,000,” sources claimed.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Education Minister Jam Mehtab Hussain Dahar said the task of installing solar panels at the government schools was earlier given to the district administrations but local officials posed hurdles in the project.

Sindh’s crusader for girls’ education Dadi Leelan passes away

“Now, the project will run under our supervision. The officials have conducted a survey of the schools and we are now verifying the facts and figures to avoid loopholes in the project,” the education minister said, adding that he will submit a report to the chief minister about the project before awarding tenders.

Dahar said the scheme was initiated because there is no electricity in many government schools and students have to study in scorching weather. “The government has cleared the dues of power utility companies but eight-to-10-hour-long load-shedding is a routine,” he said.

Replying to a query about the quality of education in the government schools, the education minister said, “The quality has improved and I can share the data of private schools’ children who have not got admissions to the government schools”. Dahar added that the government has appointed the teachers and headmasters purely on merit through tests conducted by the National Testing Service and Institute of Business Administration.

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Solar panels at hospitals

In the meantime, Health Minister Dr Sikandar Mandhro announced on Monday that the government is contemplating installing solar panels at government hospitals.
“We will start with the district hospital in Badin where a foreign company has been asked to submit an assessment report of the project,” Dr Mandhro said, adding that it was essential for hospitals for have electricity round-the-clock.
“If the project is proved successful in Badin, we will replicate it in all the public hospitals in Sindh,” the health minister said. He criticised the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company and other power companies in Sindh for their failure to ensure uninterrupted power supply.

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