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Updated: 1 hour 58 min ago

University of Health Sciences Names dept after Prof Tahir

Fri, 04/21/2017 - 11:03

LAHORE:April 21:The University of Health Sciences (UHS) has named its Anatomy Department after late Prof Dr Muhammad Tahir.
According to a press release issued here on Thursday, Prof Muhammad Tahir had been the professor and the head of UHS Anatomy Department for last 11 years. He died on Wednesday at the age of 87, bringing to an end a prolific, 56 year career as a teacher, researcher and an administrator. His work in all these domains was distinguished by a highly original critical thinking and personal vision of morality and ethics.
A memorial service for Prof Muhammad Tahir was held at the university on Thursday which was attended by UHS Vice-Chancellor, Prof Dr Junaid Sarfraz Khan and a large number of faculty members and students. On the occasion, Quran Khwani was held and the UHS VC led Dua for the departed soul.
Rich tributes were paid to Prof Muhammad Tahir by his colleagues, saying that the services of the deceased for the university could not be forgotten.
At the end, UHS VC Prof Dr Junaid Sarfraz Khan planted a banyan tree at Kala Shah Kaku Campus of the university in the memory of late Prof Muhammad Tahir.
Prof Dr Muhammad Tahir was a graduate of King Edward Medical College, Lahore.
He did his MBBS in 1952 with gold medal for standing first in the university. He taught in various national and international institutes. He did his PhD from London University. He had more than 50 research publications to his credit.The news.

Custom Public School Celebrations

Fri, 04/21/2017 - 11:02

Lahore:April 21:Custom Public School, working under Customs Education Trust, is going to celebrate its 35th inception on CPS Gulberg campus on April 8. Saira Zaheer, Principal CPS, Tayyaba Qadeer, headmistress Boys Branch, Sabrina Ali, headmistress Junior Branch and Shahida Khan, coordinator school affairs, along with CPS management will welcome custom officials including Muhammad Zahid Khokhar, Chairman Customs Education Trust, Zeba Hai Azhar, Chief Collector Customs (Central) and trustees Iftikhar Ali Malik and Farhan Sarwar.The news.

Punjab University’s equivalence dept temporarily restored

Fri, 04/21/2017 - 11:01

LAHORE:April 21:A division bench of the Lahore High Court on Thursday suspended an order of a single bench and allowed functioning of Punjab University’s equivalence department.
The single bench comprising Justice Atir Mahmood had declared illegal functioning of the equivalence department.
The university challenged the decision through an intra court appeal, which was heard on Thursday by a two-judge bench headed by Justice Aminuddin Khan.
PU counsel Malik Awais Khalid argued that the single bench passed the impugned judgment beyond any justification. He said the university being governed by Punjab Higher Education Commission had the power to recognise degrees. He said the power of HEC-Federal to recognise the degrees was a case of different nature.
The counsel prayed to the bench to set aside the impugned decision and allow the equivalence department to function.
The bench stayed the judgement and temporarily restored the department. The bench also issued notices to the parties for April 24.The news.

Plea to transfer Peshawar school case

Thu, 04/20/2017 - 11:15

LAHORE:20 April:Hearing a petition for transfer of trial proceedings against an alleged facilitator of Peshawar Army Public School carnage, the Lahore High Court on Wednesday directed the counsel of the suspect to submit his affidavit about ‘inappropriate’ remarks of the trial judge.

Earlier, the counsel for suspect Saleemullah argued before the court that the judge of an anti-terrorism court called the suspect a terrorist during the trial proceedings. Whereas, he said, nobody could be termed guilty unless convicted by a court.

The lawyer argued that the trial judge by doing so showed his mind towards the case, therefore, it would not be appropriate for him to continue with the proceedings. He prayed to the court to transfer the trial proceedings to some other anti-terrorism court.
The chief justice adjourned the hearing for 10 days and directed the counsel to file his affidavit about the remarks of the trial judge.The news.

Smart university concept for future challenges evolved

Thu, 04/20/2017 - 11:14

LAHORE:20 April:Punjab Higher Education Minister Syed Raza Ali Gilani visited the Higher Education Commission (HEC) Secretariat and met HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed and senior management.
According to a press release issued here on Wednesday, Dr Mukhtar Ahmed told the minister about the achievements of HEC since its inception in 2002. He elaborated different steps taken by HEC for a strengthened quality assurance system in higher education sector across Pakistan.Underlining the strong connection of academia with rapid technological advancement and ongoing digitisation process, he said that HEC had taken a number of measures in this regard. HEC has taken various initiatives, including establishment of Pakistan Education and Research Network (PERN), Digital Library and Cloud Data services. He said that HEC had evolved Smart University concept in view of future challenges and opportunities in the higher education sector. He said that HEC had set up Offices of Research, Innovation and Commercialisation as well as Business and Technology Incubation Centres in many universities in the country.

Speaking about the whole journey of HEC, Dr Mukhtar Ahmed said the number of PhDs produced from 1947 to 2000 was only 176, however, now the country’s universities had over 10,000 PhD faculty members. “We aim at having at least 40,000 PhD faculty members in the next decade,” he underlined.

He said that the number of recognised universities had now reached 188, while HEC was working on the programme of setting up university campuses in every district.

Through different schemes of overseas, indigenous, need-based scholarships as well as Prime Minister’s Fee Reimbursement Scheme, over 200,000 faculty members and students have been given scholarships, he said. He maintained that HEC had been playing an active role in increasing equitable access to quality higher education and encouraging relevant research activities. He said the core objectives of HEC included ensuring equitable access to quality education, technological readiness, research and innovation, and governance and management in higher education institutions.

He said HEC was the highest policy-making body for higher education sector having representation from all the four provinces, adding that the commission had a Chancellor’s Committee jointly chaired by president, prime minister, Azad Jammu & Kashmir president, governors and chief ministers. He maintained that HEC also had a Vice-Chancellor’s Committee, National Scholarship Management Committee, National Quality Assurance Committee, and National Curriculum Review Committee in addition to various other committees.

Dr Mukhtar mentioned the core functioning areas of HEC, including attestation and accreditation of qualifications, academic upgrade, human resource development, provision of instructional information technology, learning innovation and knowledge management, monitoring and evaluation, quality assurance, and statistical data gathering for policy making.

Briefing the minister on quality and standard of higher education and research in the country, the chairman informed him about the establishment of Quality Assurance and Enhancement Cells, development of National Qualifications Framework, and establishment of 15 accreditation councils in various disciplines.

He said the number of research publications reached 9,359 in 2015. According to Thompson Reuters, Pakistan has emerged as a country with highest percentage of highly-cited papers as compared to Brazil, Russia, India and China, he added.

Referring to the Pak-US Joint Academic and Research Programme, the chairman said that 13 projects had been selected for payment during Phase-VI of the programme. He said that three centres for advanced studies had so far been established in the country, adding that work on setting up more centres was underway. He also shared with the minister the outcome of the programmes being executed by HEC under the Prime Minister’s Youth Programme. He said more than one and a half million e-journals and e-books were available at the HEC Digital Library for researchers, students and faculty. The government has remarkably increased the budget of higher education sector in view of the significance of higher education and research in the development of a country, he concluded.

The minister praised the wide-scale initiatives taken by HEC. He said that the provinces should work together with the HEC for the progress of the country. He emphasised that development and prosperity of Pakistan was his foremost focus and even in the schemes executed at Punjab level, inclusive approach was adopted.The news.

Punjab University professor’s killers arrested

Thu, 04/20/2017 - 11:12

LAHORE:20 April:Iqbal Town CIA on Wednesday arrested three persons on charges of killing Prof Tahira Parveen at her Punjab University residence the other day.

The accused killers were identified as Sajjad Ali, an electrician by profession and his two close friends Hammad and Suneel Masih.

They had allegedly murdered the victim as she recognised Sajjad while looting her house.

The killers told the police that they needed money to pay installments of the electronic appliances they had bought. Victim Tahira Parveen lived alone and taught Micro Biology and Molecular Genetics at Punjab University on contractual basis.

Five suspects held: Police and Rangers took five suspects into custody during search and combing operation in the Ravi Road area on Wednesday.

The special teams searched homes and checked documents through biometric machines.

The suspects have been shifted to a police station for further verification.

Fire: A fire erupted at the emergency ward of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital on Wednesday.

Rescue 1122 controlled the fire. No loss of life or injury was reported. The fire had erupted at the AC Plant of the emergency department.

arrested: Cyber Crime Wing of FIA Lahore Wednesday arrested an accused on blasphemy charges.

According to FIA officials, the accused was identified as Sajid Ali who was arrested from Chishtian.

They said that the accused was facing charges for committing blasphemy of the companions of Holy Prophet (PBUH) on social networking site Facebook.

It is learnt that the accused had denied the allegations and told the investigators that his Facebook account was hacked and used for the crime.The news.

Punjab University Library Seminar

Thu, 04/20/2017 - 11:11

Lahore:20 April: Punjab University Department of Information Management and Punjab University Library will organise a seminar to mark international world book and copyright day on “Books through the ages and its implications” on Thursday (today) at 10:30am at Al-Raazi Hall.

Punjab Higher Education Commission Chairperson Prof Dr Muhammad Nizamuddin, Punjab University Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Zafar Mueen Nasir and others will attend the seminar.The news.

Punjab University declares BBA (Hons) Results

Thu, 04/20/2017 - 11:10

LAHORE:20 April:Punjab University Examinations Department has declared the results of BBA (Hons.) (Final year) annual examination 2016. Details are also available at Punjab University website www.pu.edu.pk.The news.

GCUniversity book fair gets warm response

Thu, 04/20/2017 - 11:09

LAHORE:20 April:Government College University Lahore Library Society has organised a two-day book fair at the University’s Abdus Salam Hall in connection with the World Book Day celebrated every year on April 23.

According to a press release issued here on Wednesday, a good number of national and international publishers, including the Oxford University Press, have set up their stalls at the book fair, which received a warm response from students and faculty members on the opening day on Wednesday. Eminent writer Dr Tariq Rahman inaugurated the book fair.

Addressing the opening ceremony, GCU Dean Faculty of Languages and Oriental Learning Prof Dr Iqbal Shahid said that books have a great significance and information technology could not replace them.

He said parents should gift their children books to promote reading habits. He said publishers were giving discount up to 25 percent on books at the book fair.

GCU Dean Faculty of Social Sciences Prof Dr Tahir Kamran said that it’s a book lovers rejoice, and such activities should be held on regular basis in all educational institutions especially schools. He said books left ever-lasting impressions on the minds of the readers.

Talking to media, the university students said visiting book fair was a great informative experience in itself even if you did not buy books. It makes you aware of the latest publications on different subjects,” they said. The fair will remain open till Thursday (today) at 4pm.The news.

Student lynching sends shockwaves through legal fraternity

Wed, 04/19/2017 - 11:43

LAHORE:19 April:Twelve former presidents of the Supreme Court Bar Association expressed deep anguish and concern over the brutal lynching and murder of Mashal Khan, a student of the Abdul Wali Khan University (AWKUM) in Mardan.
The brutal manner in which students of AWKUM killed their peer not only pained the family of the deceased, but sent shockwaves through the country, they said in a joint press statement issued from the ­
media office of Asma Jahangir.
The presidents included Akram Sheikh, Abid Hassan Manto, Qazi Muhammad Jameel, Malik Muhammad Qayyum, Muneer A Malik, Justice (Retd) Tariq Mehmood, Aitzaz Ahsan, Ali Ahmed Kurd, Asma Jahangir, Yaseen Azad, Kamran Murtaza and Syed Ali Zafar.
They said the murder of Mashal Khan was a clear wakeup call for every citizen who values diversity and needs protection from the state. “More voices should severely condemn such brutal acts of violence,” the statement read.

The former heads of the SCBA said it was evident from the reporting of this gruesome incident that no one was safe from the rage of mobs which could be mobilised in no time to use the worst form of violence.

“Worst still is the utter helplessness of law enforcement agencies to control such charged crowds. It is alarming that in this case, the law enforcement present at the site reportedly condoned the brutality.”

They said the government should ensure that not only are the perpetrators of this crime and other such incidents brought to justice, but that intolerance is strictly reprimanded in all centers of learning.

“Stricter laws should be enacted and implemented. Social media is full of hate messages that are ill-founded and continue to vilify and threaten individuals.

It is now imperative to speak up against vigilantism or mob justice. Equally important is to denounce the inability and reluctance of the government to check the rising trend,” the statement concluded.
Published in The Express Tribune,

Efforts under way to promote book reading,

Wed, 04/19/2017 - 11:42

LAHORE:19 April:Punjab Governor Rafique Rajwana has said pen and book are the best weapons to defeat the extremist mindset.
Talking to adviser to Prime Minister Irfan Siddiqi who called on him at Governor's House on Tuesday, the Punjab governor said that through an effective and planned strategy, efforts were underway to build interest of the youth in books. He said book fairs held in this regard in different universities and academic institutions reflected the commitment of the government. He said the state-run institutions all over Punjab had also been directed to upgrade the existing material and include books pertaining to different domains in their libraries.
He said that the nations who preferred education as their objective gained sublimity and strength. He said that despite growing inclination of nations towards information technology, the significance of book had not reduced.
Irfan Siddiqi told the Punjab governor that a book fair was scheduled for April 22, 23 and 24 which would be inaugurated by the President of Pakistan. He also invited the governor to attend the book fair which he accepted.

The Punjab governor also thanked Irfan Siddiqi for opening Academy of Letters in Multan. Meanwhile, a delegation of overseas Pakistanis called on the Punjab governor. The Punjab governor lauded the role and services of overseas Pakistanis for Pakistan and told them that the government was taking all possible measures to facilitate them.The news.

GC University awarded a PhD in Urdu to a scholar,

Wed, 04/19/2017 - 11:41

LAHORE:19 April:Government College University (GCU) has awarded a PhD in Urdu to a scholar, Freeza Ashraf . She completed her thesis under the supervision of Dr Akhtar Ali. The GCU Examination Department has issued a notification after approval of the thesis.The news.

University of Engineering Seminar

Wed, 04/19/2017 - 11:40

A symposium on “Energy and Nanomaterial’s” was organised by Department of Chemical and Physics at seminar hall of University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Lahore.
SNGPL Managing Director and ex-Uetian Amjad Latif was the chief guest of the symposium. Department of Chemical Engineering Chairman Prof Dr Naveed Ramzan the aim of the department was to be a leading chemical engineering institute through knowledge and academic programme. Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Fazal Ahmad Khalid appreciated the department for organising the symposium. He said that academia and industry should contribute to the innovations for the nation.
SNGPL MD Amjad Latif said nanotechnology was the technology of tools and techniques that allowed the atoms and molecules of all matter to be understood and manipulated.The news.

Punjab University approved 14 PhD Synopses

Wed, 04/19/2017 - 11:39

A meeting of Punjab University Advanced Studies and Research Board (ASRB) was held on Tuesday which approved 14 PhD synopses, 19 evaluation reports and 7 panel of examiners.
The meeting chaired by Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Zafar Mueen Nasir also approved 15 extension cases and 2 miscellaneous cases. Prof Dr Muhammad Taqi Zahid Butt, Prof Dr Shahid Kamal, Prof Dr Muhammad Zakria Zakar, Prof Dr Muhammad Fakhar-ul-Haq Noori, Prof Dr Tahira Basharat, Prof Dr Mumtaz Akhter, Prof Dr Hassan Mobeen Alam, Prof Dr Javed Iqbal Qazi, Prof Dr Khalid Hussain, Prof Dr Iqbal Chawla, Dr Shazia Noureen Qureshi, Chairperson DPCC Prof Dr Kanwal Ameen and others attended the meeting.The news.

Punjab University results of MA Arabic part-II supple Exam

Wed, 04/19/2017 - 11:38

LAHORE:April 19:Punjab University has announced the results of MA Arabic part-II supplementary examination 2016, MA Archeology part-II supplementary examination 2016, MA Diplomacy and Strategic Studies part-II supplementary examination 2016, MSc Geography part-II supplementary examination 2016 and BBA (Hons) (first & third year) annual examination 2016. Details are also available at the PU website www.pu.edu.pk The news.

Student arrested in security forces operation in Lahore

Mon, 04/17/2017 - 12:28

LAHORE (APP):17 April: It turned out that the women who was arrested in security forces operation near Punjab Housing Society Lahore, has been identified as Noreen Jabbar Laghari – the second year student of MBBS in Liaquat University of Medical Science (LUMS), Jamshoro.
It is pertinent here to mention that Noreen Jabbar Laghari went missing in February and was feared to have joined Islamic State militant group.
It has been reported that Noreen spent two months in Syria and returned to Lahore almost six days back.
Meanwhile, Noreen’s college card and her father’s ID card and letter were also recovered during the operation. As per details, the security forces conducted a special intelligence-based operation (IBO) near Punjab Housing Society Lahore.
It was reported that one terrorist identified as Tariq was killed while Noreen and two others got arrested in the operation. Moreover, suicide jackets and explosives were also recovered during the operation and four soldiers including two officers got injured during the clash.Dawn.

Mardan student lynching: Protesters demand justice for Mashal Khan

Mon, 04/17/2017 - 12:27

LAHORE:17 April:Freedom of speech is not a privilege, it’s our right and everyone is entitled to use it accordingly, said human rights activist Nighat Dad while addressing a gathering of dozens of protesters at the Liberty Roundabout to protest against the lynching of a university student in Mardan.
“We have gathered here to speak of something publicly which we usually avoid talking about at workplaces and at home, because we’ve been taught not to talk about it,” Nighat said.

“The protesters gathered here do not represent any political party, religion or government. We are here for the rule of democracy which entails the freedom of speech for everyone,” she added.

A protester Aima Yousuf said: “One of the things that deeply disturbs me is that the perpetrators ignore the clear message of peace by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and prefer killing people.”

“This behavioural norm of violence in the name of religion is not something which began today or a day before, it’s something which is deliberately being built up as a state sponsored narrative,” she said.

She added that whenever incidents like these took place, the state avoided speaking up about it, which gave an impression that it was supporting such elements.

Another protester Mir Rawtah said that if they agreed Mashal had committed blasphemy, even then nothing could allow a mob of students to brutally murder a fellow student and make videos of it.

Mehwish Rani, a researcher on extremism, said that they should stop referring victims of extremism like Mashal martyrs. “Terming Mashal a martyr is actually celebrating his death and denying the fact that he was brutally murdered,” she said. “He is not a martyr and we will not celebrate his murder in cold blood. We want justice for him.”

“In our universities, extremist ideologies are allowed to flourish while progressive thought processes are discouraged just like in a seminary, where anyone who dares to question is blacklisted immediately,” Mehwish said.

“Ironically the university where Mashal was killed is named after Abdul Wali Khan, who was a secular Pashtun leader and a supporter of non-violence politics throughout his life,” she said, adding it was a failure on the part of the university which allowed its students to be perpetrators of such violent and extremist narrative.

“Even more ironic is the fact that those who killed Mashal were not illiterate. They were university students which should make us realise that critical and balanced thinking is more important than having meaningless degrees,” Mehwish lamented.Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2017.

Anjuman Faizul Islam completes 75 years

Mon, 04/17/2017 - 12:25

Rawalpindi:17 April:Anjuman Faizul Islam (AFI) Rawalpindi, which is a reform oriented welfare democratic organisation of moderate volunteers from different walk of life, completed seventy five years of its purposeful role for national reconstruction.
“It launched a quiet movement by organising collective efforts for social welfare and reformation in 1943 at the behest of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and has since been playing purposeful role in this respect by promoting Islamic Values, national objectives, cultural traditions and welfare and educational activities without indulging in public strife sectarian and regional prejudices and extremism. It has also been making due contribution in national integration by providing shelter, necessaries of life and facilities of moral oriented modern education to children from all regions of Pakistan in its orphanage called ‘Apna Ghar’, said Mohammad Siddique Akbar Mian, President of AFI
The Executive Committee of Anjuman planned and organised a meaningful programme to commemorate Pakistan Day and 75th foundation day of the Anjuman in a befitting manner. The programme started with an exhibition of science and creative projects, painting, calligraphy, dresses at Mandra Campus of the Anjuman. The exhibition was followed by a competition of speeches, national Songs and tableaus on the theme of national integration. Senator General (r) Abdul Quyyum who was the chief guest on the occasion lauded the efforts the Anjuman in the field of social welfare and education and appreciated the performance of students. He emphasized the need of promoting Islamic values and national ideology to maintain national integration.The news.

Institute of Psychiatry arranges lecture on Borderline Personality Disorder

Mon, 04/17/2017 - 12:24

Rawalpindi:17 April:The management of patients with borderline personality disorder takes time but the efforts are worth it and hence it feels very rewarding to treat such patients. Since majority of the sufferers are females, managing one patient even to some extent is beneficial to the whole family.

Consultant General Adult Psychiatrist at the NHS (Hampshire, UK) and Member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Dr. Saadia Muzaffar expressed this while delivering a guest lecture arranged by Institute of Psychiatry & World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre at Benazir Bhutto Hospital on ‘Diagnosis and Management of Borderline Personality Disorders’.

Consultants, postgraduate trainees serving at the institute along with psychiatrists, psychologists and students attended the lecture.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental disorder marked by a pattern of ongoing instability in moods, behaviour, self-image, and functioning. A person with BPD may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that may last from only a few hours to days. Some people with BPD also have high rates of co-occurring mental disorders, such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders, along with substance abuse, self-harm, suicidal thinking and behaviours, and suicide, reveal studies.

In the introductory speech at the lecture, Head of Institute of Psychiatry Professor Fareed Minhas talked about the ethical dilemmas in patients with borderline personality disorder, especially in the domains of boundary settings, transference, counter-transference and confidentiality.

He emphasized on the massive physical and psychiatric co-morbidities in such patients and stated that although it is either easy or hard to diagnose it, it is even harder to manage, because the illness tends to simmer but does not completely eliminate.

Dr. Saadia started her lecture by talking about her interest in the management of borderline patients. On diagnosis of BPD, she highlighted the overlap of features between BPD and Bipolar Affective Disorder patients and the fact that it is more acceptable to make a diagnosis of the later.

She highlighted the importance of a rich childhood history including the details and age of onset of self harm, circumstances during childhood such as bullying, abuse in house, whether the patient has been looking after an ill family member. Asking about whether a patient was brought up in an environment where expression of anger was promoted rather than inhibited, gives us an additional information that he or she might have developed a tendency to bottling up anger inside resulting in self harm, she said.

She said it is a privilege to get to know some of the deepest and horrendous secrets of patients’ lives so the matter of confidentiality is of utmost importance in a patient-doctor relationship and hence the entitled trust should be maintained at all costs.

“Inpatient admissions must be short; about 72 hours maximum, in order to minimise disorganized relationship building between the patient and the hospital staff or other patients,” she said.

She described the different criteria for the diagnosis in detail; particularly giving importance to the identity disturbance in such patients since an increase in eating disorders has been reported in the United Kingdom, in the form of unstable self image, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Anorexia Nervosa, binge eating and co morbid depression and anxiety almost always accompanies it. Secondly, impulsivity is another aspect demanding attention owing to the high rates of substance misuse, promiscuity, reckless driving and self harming behaviour in such patients.

Proceeding to the management of the patients, she mentioned the role of psychotherapy to be of prime importance, involving therapies like Dialectal behavioural therapy, Schema focused therapy, Mentalisation based Therapy, Cognitive Analytical Therapy and Transference Focused Therapy.

The role of medicines, she added, is only indicated when other strategies fail and they work best in combination with Dialectical Behavioural Therapy or Cognitive approach.

She ended with the take home message of being patient and consistent with borderline patients since it takes time and effort to deal with them however efforts never go futile and do some good in one way or the other. “Treating such patients is a challenge and they might make us feel inadequate at times but it is at this point that one must seek supervision and be careful not to take such patients’ poor progress or negative feedback personally.” Eventually, insight is the end of the pathway of management of Borderline Personality, she concluded.

Consultant at the Institute of Psychiatry Dr. Azeem gave the concluding remarks by acknowledging the challenging nature of the topic along with the critical issues of boundary settings and overwhelming value of psychotherapy in such patients.The news.

Why Punjab is failing to impart quality higher education

Sun, 04/16/2017 - 10:35

Lahore:16 April:A few years back, the Punjab Higher Education Department (HED) reduced the years of service required for promotion of a BS-17 lecturer to the post of assistant professor from 22 to 17. The decision-makers saw it as an improvement in their promotion formula, but it speaks volumes about the dismal service structure in the provincial education department. In simple words, it means that a young lecturer joining the department needs to wait for 17 long years to move just one step up the ladder.
Against this backdrop, many pertinent questions come to mind.
How can the education department attract the best and brightest into the teaching profession? How those who still join the profession because of their passion or inclination can maintain their motivation with such remote possibility of promotion?

Upward mobility is not the only issue impacting quality teaching; selection and training of teachers are equally important.

How does the Punjab HED selects teachers? Does it have any mechanism in place to test inclination of the candidates? Is there any mandatory training for the selected teachers before they take charge of classrooms?

Before looking for answers to these questions, let’s take a look at the numbers. The Punjab HED official website doesn’t offer an exact figure for students enrolled in the public sector colleges of Punjab, but the estimated numbers fall between 700,000 to 800,000 students who are taught by around 18,000 teachers, both men and women. One may be surprised to know that there is simply no mechanism to test a candidate’s aptitude for teaching, which is crucial to ensure that the person hired for imparting knowledge is competent and will help achieve the stated official goal of improving the quality of education. After all, good selection along with effective training and prospects for advancement in career are imperative for quality teaching.

Flawed hiring, non-existent training

It can be claimed that recruitments are done on merit through the Public Service Commission. But the issue is not the agency, but the criterion of selection. The existing procedure doesn’t look for good teachers; it picks up ‘top scorers’ from a big pool of unemployed degree-holders. For many, teaching is the only chance to get a job, and for some, it is the last choice after exhausting other options. Only a few are truly interested.

In such a scenario, many job-seekers, who by their inclination or by personal preferences are not built to teach, join the education profession. Obviously, such uninterested ‘teachers’ cannot inspire, guide and educate the youth.

In addition to proper selection, effective and mandatory training is essential for quality teaching. After hiring uninterested job seekers who see teaching as a profession with less work, more pay and job security, the Punjab HED directly unleashes them into classrooms without any training. In the absence of any professional training, fresh entrants are left to learn the ‘tricks of the trade’ from their seniors and peer-groups. And many seniors offer time-tested tips on how to do minimal-unavoidable work just to ensure the continuity of salary. Hence, no one should be surprised if work-avoidance is prevalent in the education department.

Finland’s education system sets an important example in this regard, where the main focus is on the selection of genuine teachers and rigorous training.

Progress – a mirage

The few who become teachers due to their commitment to profession don’t sail with the mainstream and find it really hard to maintain their resolve against many odds, particularly little chance for upward mobility. Their hard work and commitment notwithstanding, the first-ever-promotion has to come after 18 to 20 years in any case. It means giving the most productive years of one’s life in service of a department that doesn’t honour devotion or good work. In this context, how can the department attract or keep the best and brightest? No wonder many use it as a stopgap until they find greener pastures, and those who stay on usually take it as a part-time occupation.

Let us examine ‘promotions at snail’s’ pace’ and some related issues in a little detail. In the absence of time-scale for promotion, there is a complex numeric scheme called 4-tier formula. A relatively better pace of promotions, under this formula, depends on many factors like regular recruitment, updated seniority lists, and regular calculus of available posts. The department, however, practically makes this formula dysfunctional by making contract appointments (instead of regular appointments through the Public Service Commission), hiring teachers as college teacher interns (CTI) for the academic session, and by not updating seniority lists. All such ad-hoc appointments and inaction have adverse impacts on the promotion structure.

In addition, the outdated seniority lists and certain dichotomies between rules and practices make things more complicated and absolutely unfair. In principle, the preparation and presentation of the promotion cases are the duty of the administrative staff, but in practice, the whole burden is shifted to the teachers concerned. Quite unfairly and illegally, the teachers are asked to produce their own ‘confidential’ evaluation reports and for the missing performance evaluation reports (PER), they are made to suffer. In reality, the duty to maintain and keep PERs lies with the principal’s office or the directorate.

Another interesting example of shifting responsibility is that, according to a very strange rule, recommendations for promotion remain valid for one year. It implies that if the department fails to issue posting orders within a year, the recommendation of promotion would become void. Isn’t it senseless? Obviously, those who are recommended for promotion are not supposed to issue their own posting orders. Clearly, it is the responsibility of the department to issue posting orders. It’s a pity that an officer or teacher who waited for a posting for one year loses their recommendation for promotion in case of a mistake by the department. A Punjabi expression “sikha shahi” – which roughly denotes arbitrary rule – seems an appropriate description.

Possible solutions

Things can improve, but only if the education department can reconcile its stated objectives with operational procedures and practices. Currently, the department is exactly reaping what it sowed through its structures. It never made teaching profession attractive for the most talented professionals. It did let job-seeking non-teachers come in a large number and never imparted mandatory professional orientation, effective teaching methodology, and familiarity with rules and regulations through a compulsory training. It never incentivised performance or discouraged non-performance in an appropriate way. No wonder if all is not well. The official response, sadly, is a cost-benefit analysis following business-industry model, further burdening or just keep cursing the ‘idle teachers’ out of frustration.

The road to betterment goes through structural reforms. Firstly, the government should make a procedure to select good teachers and establish a teachers training academy. Secondly, every selected teacher must undergo a rigorous training for six to nine months before starting actual teaching. However, the duration of training and the courses can be decided after consultation with experts. Lastly, it should be accepted that a fair chance of upward mobility and reasonable salary packages are not the luxuries but essential requirements of a decent career. It is how the Punjab HED can hire, train and retain good teachers and resultantly provide quality teaching – a prerequisite for quality education.

Having said that, the department needs to acknowledge that the current policies and practices regarding recruitment, training and promotion are quite unhelpful. To know the real situation on the ground, the department needs to listen to the voices from the field. The official ‘proper-channel’ cannot tell the truth. The teachers who know the issues and can write and speak must also contribute to improving the system. It is a moral, social, and professional responsibility of the teachers to keep striving for change. Since they are an agent for change, they owe a greater, a higher (than any other consideration) responsibility to this society.

Shahid Anwar is an Islamabad-based analyst with experience of working in both academic and administrative positions at Punjab Higher Education Department. He can be reached at .Express News.