Comment on Newyork Times` article

Comment on the Newyork Times` article that accuses the ISI of knowing about the presence of Bin Laden and supporting him.

Today I went through the entire article. But I found no worthwhile and
conclusive evidence though much of hearsay known to all and at times conflicting details as will be shown in the comment.
The article
Contains only the often repeated
allegations that Pak military
abets miltitants and Alqaeda. The only evidence the writer gives to
prove her point that Pakistan
military knew of Bin Laden
presence is that the ISI had
formed a special cell on Bin
Laden. Well, it is but natural that intelligence agencies round the
world form cells on personalities,
dangers and groups like Bin
Laden and Alqaeda but it doesn`t
mean they support and want
them. Instead they are fought against by making special plans,
bodies and arrangements. Would
have loved to read The book the
article is based on but…….
Also, the writer dubs Qari
Saifullah Akhtar as the most valuable asset for ISI but then
goes on to say later in the article
that Qari Saif in his 2009 meeting
with Osama Bin Laden asked him
to provide him with support for
his plans to attack the GHQ and ISI headqurters. Strange isnt it?
How can an “asset” be so hostile
to his “mentors”

Power struggle

By Tahir Ali

tns.thenews.com.pk/power-struggle-privatisation/
March 2, 2014

Will the privatisation of power distribution and generation companies solve the energy crisis?
while the federal government intends to gradually
privatise all the power
distribution companies
(Discos) and generation
companies (Gencos), their employees say they
would resist the move. The Council of Common
Interests (CCI), headed
by Prime Minister Nawaz
Sharif, decided in
principle earlier this
month to privatise all the state-owned Discos,
Gencos and other Power
Sector Entities (PSEs) in
line with the 2011
Policy. “In the past, unnecessary
recruitments and
corruption have resulted
in mismanagement in
these organisations, and
privatisation, therefore, is the only solution in
the national interest,”
said the prime minister. The Privatisation
Commission, according
to the officials who do
not want to be
identified, has approved
restructuring and privatisation of
Faisalabad Electric
Power Company (Fesco),
Lahore Electric Supply
Company (Lesco),
Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (Hesco),
Peshawar Electric Supply
Company (Pesco), and
others. Privatisation of
some thermal power
generation stations has also been approved. Earlier, the Cabinet
Committee on
Privatisation, besides
others, had decided that
Islamabad Electricity
Supply Company (Iesco) and Gujranwala
Electricity Supply
Company (Gesco) would
be offered for strategic
partnerships. It directed
the Privatisation Commission to ensure
that the interests of
employees are protected
at all costs. Minister for Water and
Power, Khwaja
Muhammad Asif, told the
National Assembly
recently that in order to
improve efficiency of the PSEs, some Discos and
Gencos are being
considered for
privatisation. Improvement in the
efficiency through
competition,
accountability,
managerial autonomy
and profit incentives; and the generation of
required resources are
the objectives of the
government for the
privatisation of power
sector. “As a matter of fact, all
Discos, including Pesco,
are eventually to be
privatised. Pesco’s turn
may come later, but it
will,” said a knowledgeable source
on the condition of
anonymity. Pesco recently planned
to privatise three
feeders — in Bannu and
Dera Ismael Khan — but
the proposal met stiff
resistance from Wapda employees. Employees fear
privatisation would
entail job insecurity and
costlier energy for the
masses and will be
tantamount to economic killing of so many
families. Gohar Taj, chairman of
All Pakistan Wapda
Hydro Electric Central
Workers Union (HECWU),
which is the elected
collective bodies’ agent (CBA) of Wapda, said
“the government had
decided to privatise
Pesco, Lesco and Fesco
on the pressure of IMF. It
has obtained approval from the CCI through
majority.” He warned that Wapda
workers won’t accept
any privatisation or
golden handshake offers.
“Due to our strong
opposition, Pesco feeders couldn’t be
privatised in Bannu. We
will hold countrywide
demonstrations on
March 5 and on March 11
in Islamabad. We will take along sympathetic
parties and take the
nation into confidence
on the hazards of
privatisation,” he said. Taj was of the view that
the government should
revive the loss-making
entities with the staff
and officers of Discos.
CBA will support it. It can take help from the law
enforcement agencies to
curb stealing, recover
dues from defaulters,
and check corruption
within the companies. Pesco employees, I am
told, have increased
recovery ratio by 10 per
cent and line losses have
been curtailed by one
per cent in the last three months.” According to him, “Funds
given to improve age-
old infrastructure are
utilised for extending
low-tension lines to
benefit politicians, which further increases
pressure on the national
grid.” Tila Muhammad,
provincial chairman of
the steering committee
of Wapda, Pegham
Union KP, said, “We
won’t accept offers like the ones made to PTCL
employees who opted
for retaining jobs but are
denied due rights since
then. We would oppose
the move tooth and nail. Privatisation will do no
good to consumers as
income-hungry private
owners of Discos would
sell electricity at
exorbitant prices,” he says, adding,
“Privatisation with
regard to feeders failed
earlier. IPPs and RPPs
scandals are fresh in
minds. National institutions need to be
improved and not
privatised. If there are
corrupt officials, the
government has all the
resources to try and punish them.” Donor agencies like the
World Bank and Asian
Development Bank have
identified poor
governance, political and
bureaucratic interference,
institutional weakness,
and lack of professional
management as key
shortcomings of
Pakistan’s PSEs urging their restructuring and
privatisation. For many years, the
power sector has been
virtually in private
hands. For example
Pepco, headed by an
independent MD, manages all the affairs of
corporatised nine Discos,
four Gencos and a
National Transmission
Dispatch Company.
These companies work under independent
board of directors
(chairman and some
directors are from
private sector). These are
administratively autonomous and all
entities have the
physical possessions of
all their operational
assets. But the sector’s
woes have risen in the meantime. Similarly, feeders in
Pesco and other Discos
have been privatised in
the past but contractors
soon backed out from
the contract. People ask if privatisation of KESC
has brought any
dividends. Have the
consumers of Karachi
benefitted? Has the
government got relieved of its subsidies? The
government has
allocated Rs55 billion out
of its total power sector
subsidy of Rs220 billion
this financial year to pick KESC tariff differential
this year even though it
has long been privatised. Without structural
reforms, stringent laws
to punish and deter
power stealers,
community
participation, ending of political intervention,
checking
mismanagement and a
sound policy of reward
and punishment for both
consumers and workers of Discos, even
privatisation will be
meaningless. “The government should
provide security to
raiding teams. Public
mindset should be
changed by educating
them against power theft through media,
ulema and teachers.
Community intervention
can be ensured by
assigning areas of
responsibility to local bodies’ members at
ward or transformer
level. Field/line staff
deficiency must be
removed. Workers
should be given commission on extra
collection beyond
benchmark target at
different rates,” said the
source. Accountability, power
generation, especially
from hydel and gas, and
renewal of power
infrastructure are also
vital for bringing demand and supply gap
and line-losses down. Pesco, according to an
estimate, is worth over
Rs300 billion with all its
assets and liabilities.
“Pesco is incurring a loss
of Rs one billion a month. Out of the total
Rs6.2 billion worth units
billed, around Rs5 billion
are recovered. Its total
transmission and
distribution losses are over Rs75 billion at
present. But all this is
not entirely caused by
incompetence and
corruption of employees.
They have security problems and are
attacked by powerful
stealing mafia. The
police are over-stretched
for the precarious
security situation to escort them. Laws
against power theft are
toothless. A power thief
is set free by fining him
Rs500-1000. Now this
emboldens others to follow suit,” the source
said. The Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa Assembly
has passed resolutions
against privatisation of
Pesco in 2003, 2005,
2006 and several other occasions. The assembly
was informed that the
province had already
paid the total
transmission and
distribution cost of Pesco system, therefore
the province has every
right to claim the
ownership of Pesco,
including its assets,
under Article 157(2) of the Constitution.

English medium education in KP

A change of medium
Tahir Ali
February 2, 2014
tns.thenews.com.pk/medium-change/#comment-4938
Will the changeover from Urdu/Pashto to English-medium schooling in KP take the intended course?

Pashto, Urdu, Arabic and
now English.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-
Insaf-led Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa
government is going to
introduce English-
medium schooling and a uniform curriculum in all
the public sector schools
from the upcoming
academic session. The
shift from Urdu/Pashto
medium to English- medium textbooks will
be completed in several
phases. In the first stage
commencing from this
April, the students of
grade one, besides English, will also study
Mathematics and General
Knowledge in English.
With the promotion of
these students to grade
two, English-medium textbooks/education
will also move up the
ladder, if not earlier. The
process will take about
four to five years to
reach up to secondary level. Official sources say the
government is fully
prepared for the shift.
“First, 400 master
trainers were trained
who are now busy training primary school
teachers for grade one.
The process will
continue till mid-March
and 36000 teachers will
be trained this year. One teacher from each
primary school will be
guided on the new
textbooks in ten-day
workshops. For more
classes later, more master trainers will be
trained who would then
train all the 120000
teachers in KP,” says an
official privy to the
process. He says the government
has prepared/printed
textbooks and these will
be provided well before
the start of the session. Teachers and parents say
English medium
education was long
overdue. It will bring
public sector schools at
par with their private counterparts which have
seen a mushroom
growth in recent years.
In the absence or
shortage of quality
English medium government schools,
parents go for private
schools which are
increasingly getting
costlier and
unaffordable, they argue. Naming them Centennial
model high schools, the
government had earlier
converted a few
government high
schools to English medium status
throughout the province.
These schools proved a
great success and have
gained parents’
confidence. The PTI activists say it
will help end the decade-
old class-based
education, bring a
uniform curriculum,
remove disparities between the education
standards in urban and
rural areas, ensure equal
opportunities for
competition and
progress to both the rich and the poor and will
augment enrolment in
government schools. Nevertheless,
changeover from Urdu/
Pashto to English-
medium schooling is,
however, easier said
than done. It is likely to bring several problems
for both the students
and teachers
overwhelmed by an
English-phobia of an
extreme kind. But nothing is impossible for
a resolute mind and
hardworking
administration. Though
the government seems
conscious of the gigantic challenges lying ahead,
some precautions must
be made. Too ambitious for
schools with no
infrastructure. Planners will not only
have to select and train
qualified and competent
master trainers and
teachers in the later
stages, they also will have to prepare/supply
books in time and a
permanent monitoring
mechanism will also
have to be developed. “We need hardworking
and proficient master
trainers and teachers to
be able to teach maths
and science in English.
Without qualified and committed trainers and
teachers and a robust
oversight mechanism
and competent
monitors, the move will
come to nothing. One hopes the government
will be able to publish/
provide textbooks in
time and will induct,
train and provide
competent teachers for this purpose,” says
Zubair Ahmad, an
educationist. “Training of teachers
continues province-
wide. To make the
process successful, the
concerned officials
should ensure that a trainee teacher nearing
his retirement or likely
to be promoted in near
future is not selected. Or
at least two teachers
should be trained for a class,” says a teacher. “Some of the trainee
primary teachers can
hardly speak a simple
sentence in English for
grade one. The trainee
teachers must be young, energetic, qualified
(preferably graduate)
and must be selected on
merit without any
interference from
teachers’ union and politicians,” says a
master trainer. “Also,
primary teachers whose
promotion to high
schools is due shortly
must never be considered for training
as their departure would
deprive their erstwhile
schools of a teacher
trained for grade one
while his training would be of no use in high
schools. The government
should also plan and
ensure follow-up
activities so that
teachers continue to teach to the class they
were trained for,” says
the trainer. “Almost all the teachers
at my centre are young.
They take keen interest
in the training. They are
happy that English
medium textbooks will improve enrolment and
prospects of their
students and augment
their own prestige,” says
another master trainer. English-medium
education is being
started from grade one
(Awal Aala). It means
two preceding classes —
the preparatory class (called Awal Adna
locally) and the other
called Kachi have been
left out, says a teacher,
Shafiq Khan. The KP
government, however, recently announced
playgroup classes will be
started in public schools
from the upcoming
session. Most developed
countries have uniform
system of education. But
different curricula in the
public and private
sectors and religious madaris (seminaries)
have sharply divided
Pakistan. A modern/
uniform curriculum is
necessary to strengthen
national unity and promote moderation
and tolerance in the
country. The PTI, in its 6-
points education policy,
too had promised a
uniform education system if voted to
power. It requires huge funds,
time, personnel,
incessant work and
cooperation from all the
private schools and
religious seminaries to have a uniform
curriculum province-
wide. So, the PTI has
decided to bring uniform
curriculum in
government schools through English-medium
textbooks for the
moment. Private schools
may be covered later.
The PTI leaders argue
the government and private schools follow
the same syllabus for
class 9 and 10, so why
can’t it be the same in
other classes. One hopes the move will
lead to healthy
competition between
the public and private
schools. The government
should also promote spirit of cooperation and
coordination between
the two. The PTI opponents
accuse it of being
‘secular’ having pro-west
agenda (JUI-F leaders
harp on the theory)
while some analysts accuse it of taking the KP
towards
fundamentalism. Following the landmark
18th Constitutional
Amendment that
devolved education and
curriculum design to
provinces, the KP government can modify
its curriculum and
textbooks. Textbooks
lessons have been
usually changed by
successive governments and the PTI government
is also expected to
follow suit. But its
leaders say they would
do so in strict
compliance with the 2006 national
curriculum. It means
there will be no major
changes in curriculum
introduced by the
previous ANP-led government. The ANP government
had included lessons on
local heroes in
curriculum such as
famous poets Rehman
Baba, Khushal Khan Khattak and Ghani Khan.
They also included
lessons on human rights,
peace and religious
tolerance and removed
historic distortions, hate material and harsh
sentiments against non-
Muslims. The ANP
activists say the Jamaat-
e-Islami is now bent on
reversing these changes. The KP Elementary and
Secondary Education
Minister, Muhammad
Atif Khan, as per
newspaper reports, said
Islamic ideology would be the basis of his
government’s steps
regarding curriculum. He
said the PTI government
would accept no bar on
religious education and won’t tolerate external
interference in this
regard. He also vowed to
rectify the ‘mistakes’ in
present curriculum
introduced by the ANP government. The KP Information
Minister Shah Farman
reportedly said the KP
would revise and
develop curriculum as
per Islamic teachings and the country’s
cultural norms. He
termed criminal the
changes brought about
by the ANP-led
government (some changes he and Khan
cited included the
removal of Quranic
verses on Jihad, mention
of Kashmir as disputed
land and replacement of lessons on Voice of God,
Hazrat Umar and
Prophet Muhammad
(PBUH) with those on
‘The Man Who Was a
Giant’, ‘Helen Keller’ and ‘Quaid-e-Azam’ etc). “While its coalition
partner — The JI —
wishes to Islamise
syllabi by expunging
some ‘secular’ lessons
from them and limit the donors’ role in policy/
decision making, the
civil society, opposition
parties and donor
agencies may dislike the
move. How will the PTI deal with these
conflicting viewpoints,
remains to be seen,”
says an ANP activist.

how to catch a falling son

How to catch a falling son

He was tested as gifted and
loved learning. But somewhere
along the way, my boy slipped
through the cracks and nearly
out of the school system. Is it
too late to save him? Christina Tynan-Wood has
written for Better Homes and
Gardens, Popular Science, PC
World, PC Magazine, InfoWorld,
and many others. She currently
writes the “Family Tech” column in Family Circle and blogs at GeekGirlfriends.com. ADVERTISEMENT More in Academic Skills Math skills 1: Help your
child learn counting and
numbers Umoja’s children Kindergarten basics 1: Five
key skills kids learn in
kindergarten Math skills 5: Help your
child understand
measurement How to use sports to help
your child’s math skills More » Sign Up For Email Updates

gur-making up in KP

Bitter realities of a sweet crop

http://tns.thenews.com.pk/bitter-realities-of-a-sweet-crop/#.Uq7hS6xsS1s

Sugarcane growers prefer making gur rather than selling the crop to mills owners

Bitter realities of a sweet crop

It is gur-making season in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, especially in Peshawar, Charsadda, Mardan and Nowshera. The estimated sugarcane production in KP is around 1.3 million tonnes. Almost half of it is used for gur making. Gur produced in Charsadda and Mardan is very popular countrywide. Gur is the main sweetener for around 60 per cent people in KP and Federally and Provincially-administered tribal areas (Fata and Pata). It is exported to Afghanistan, Middle Eastern and Central Asian states where it is believed to be used as a sweetener and in winemaking.

Mardan and Peshawar are the hubs of gur trade. Around ten to twelve thousands of purs are traded in the Pipal Mandi gur market when the trade is in full swing. Gur commission agents are also very active these days.

Thousands of tonnes of gur is traded in the province or taken out of the country daily. Majority of the sugarcane growers prefer using their cane-produce for gur-making rather than taking it to mills for its comparative advantages. It fetches them good prices. They have to feed their animals with cane-grass which necessitates intermittent cutting of crop as allowed by gur-making and not simultaneous harvesting of the entire crop as demanded by the mills option. And they usually use gur in their homes. Gur is used in juices, sweets and eaten with bread as curry with bread by the poor.

In Punjab, a kind of gur, named Duplicate, is prepared by mixing gur, glucose and other ingredients. It is good-looking as well as cheaper and tasteful, according to some farmers.

While sugar-mills began crushing season in early November, gur-making is usually started in late September or early October. It lasts till April next year.

Gur prepared in the initial stage is of inferior quality but can fetch more. Late production increases yield and standard. The gur made in January, February and March is much better in quality and is liked the most. Similarly, gur without alteration is the best for human consumption while that mixed with artificial colour tastes bad, though people residing in remote areas prefer it for its bright colour. Again, the gur made from the roots of the last year’s crop is good in quality while that from fresh canes is not that good.

According to Murad Ali Khan, a farmers’ leader from Charsadda, gur is more competitive for the farmers at the current rate.

“A pur of gur (having 75-80 kilograms) fetches a price up to Rs5000 depending upon its colour, taste and quality in the local market. Sugarcane yield per acre is around 400 maunds which can produce 20 purs (a pur consumes 20-25 maunds of cane). These can earn a farmer Rs100,000 or more. It exceeds the price offered by sugar-mills these days,” he says.

According to another farmer, quality sugarcane can give as much as 40 purs per acre. But, he says, farmers in KP will only benefit from the crop when its per acre yield of 350-400 maunds is increased to that of 650-700 maunds in Punjab. At present, gur-making through rented gur-ganee (machines) is less beneficial for farmers while those who own ganees are the real beneficiaries,” he opines.

Muhammad Zahir Khan, another growers’ representative, says hitches in supply of gur to Fata, Pata and the ban on export of gur to Afghanistan and the central Asian states, however, have lowered gur prices of late to the detriment of gur farmers. “Gur can be a healthy addition to the countries’ depleting export earnings if its export is allowed after value addition.”

Masud Khan, the manager of the Premier Sugar Mills Mardan, says though the minimum sugarcane support price is Rs170 per 40 kilogrammes in other provinces, the local sugar mills offer Rs180. “We have to compete with gur-ganees. While our per kg cost of production has increased for higher prices and wages offered to farmers and employees, escalating fuel prices and various taxes, gur-ganees have no such taxes and responsibilities. How can we compete with them? Sugar industry will be on verge of closure if not supported,” he says. The industry has been campaigning for ban on gur export, taxes on gur industry and eventual moratorium on gur production.

Rizwanullah Khan, the president of the Kissan Board KP, however, says prices of all the things are on the rise while last year’s cane price has remained unchanged. “In 2010, mills had offered Rs240 per 40kg. Cane price be increased as per cost of production. We have planned agitation to press for good cane-prices.”

Gur was once the food of the poor. Though it has become costlier than sugar for few years now, the poor still prefer it for its taste and health benefits.

A farmer said gur agents and big farmers have installed generator-run modern gur-ganees with several furnaces which help prepare plenty of purs daily.

In 1996, average retail gur price was 14 rupees a kilo. Currently, it is sold at Rs66-75/kg. The sugarcane growers, unfortunately, haven’t been able to get advantage of this hike. Growers say the gur commission agents have devoured most of the surplus value in the shape of huge commission or deduction of 5-8kg gur/a pur.

Mardan and Peshawar are the hubs of gur trade. Around ten to twelve thousands of purs are traded in the Pipal Mandi gur market when the trade is in full swing. Gur commission agents work pretty much like the property dealers or motor vehicle bargainers who are only concerned with their commission.

“The gur agents enter advance agreements with farmers by making payments for standing crops. They provide farmers seasonal/crop-based loans which they use for buying inputs and fulfilling their domestic needs,” a farmer says.

An official of the Sugarcane Crops Research Institute said though KP’s cane has better quality and sucrose content, its average yield is between 16-24 metric tonnes, much less than that of Sindh and Punjab. He cited insufficient use of fertiliser and pesticides, non-attractive price given by mills, intercropping, use of less than recommended seed (4 ton/acre) and shortage of irrigation water as reasons for lesser acreage and production.

KP school’s report

School report
KP’s Annual Statistical Report paints a bleak picture of schools in the province
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/oct2013-weekly/nos-27-10-2013//pol1.htm#8

Experts agree that education requires a congenial atmosphere and the provision of certain facilities like water, electricity, washrooms, playgrounds and computer-labs within the school premises. But hundreds of schools in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa still lack basic facilities, an official document reveals.

It is mind-boggling to read that 20 per cent of the functional public schools still have no boundary walls, 30 per cent no water supply, 42 per cent no electricity and 16 per cent no toilets facilities.

According to the latest Annual Statistical Report released by the KP Elementary and Secondary Education (ES&E) Department, there are 28472 government schools in KP of which 27975 are functional while 397 are non-functional/temporarily closed and 100 are newly-constructed. Majority or 23073 (83 per cent) of the schools are government primary schools (GPSs) while government middle schools (GMSs), high schools (GHSs) and higher secondary schools (GHSSs) make up 9, 7 and 1 per cent of all the schools respectively.

Most of the non-functional/temporary closed schools are girls’ schools with 288 of them primary and 7 secondary schools.

Of the total 44873 and 25364 rooms in male and female GPSs, 4563 and 2039 rooms need major repairs, 11929 and 5504 minor repairs while another 3600 and 1416 room need rehabilitation respectively.

Similarly, amongst the 12644 rooms in GMSs, 784 need major repairs, 3048 minor repairs and 634 rooms are in need of rehabilitation. Again, off the total 15377 rooms in GHSs, 2220, 5361 and 2343 rooms are in need of major and minor repairs and rehabilitation respectively. And off the 8167 rooms in GHSSs in the province, 648 rooms need major repairs, 1434 minor repairs and 647 rooms need total rehabilitation.

According to the report, 3.93 million students study in 27975 functional government schools with 2.84 million in GPSs, 0.76 million in GMSs, 0.29 million in GHSs and 0.041 million in GHSSs across the province. Over 1.51 million students also read in 6743 non-government schools here. Most of the 119274 teachers in government schools are male (78172), but female teachers in private schools account for 44466 off 85325 teachers.

The teacher-student ratio in GPSs is 1:39 and secondary schools level is 1:23 but it is much greater in some schools. The report shows that 1175 male and 1450 female GPSs have only one teacher to teach all the classes and the students-teachers ratio for these schools is 1:58 and 1:61 respectively. 344 male and 103 female primary schools have no rooms to shelter students. 10318 off the total primary schools have two rooms and two teachers, obviously short of what is required.

Though females account for over 50 per cent of population here, girls schools make up 36 per cent of all the schools, but their share further comes down to 33 per cent at high and higher secondary levels.

According to a report in The News in 2009, out of total of 4338 and 2609 rooms in all schools in Mardan, as many as 713 rooms in boys’ schools and 399 in the female ones needed major repairs. The recent report says 480 rooms in male schools and 211 rooms in women schools still await major repair.

Overall Net Enrolment Ratio at primary level is 48 per cent (52 and 44 per cent for male and female schools) but it is at 28 per cent (33 and 21 per cent for boys and girls) in all middle to higher schools of the province.

While enrolment overall increased by around 23.9 per cent in the last 10 years (2003 to 2012), increase in teachers and functional schools was recorded at 15.7 per cent and 7.7 per cent respectively. Girls’ enrolment grew by 3 times against boys’.

During 2011 and 2012, the dropout rate for the stages from 5th to 9th grade has been recorded at 16, 9, 7, 14 and 16 per cent for boys. For the girls, it has been recorded at 24, 9, 8, 21 and 8 per cent in that order.

But dropout rate could be higher if we analyse the data intently. The date reveals 0.519 million students were admitted in the prep class in GPSs across the province in 2003-04. By 2008-09, when the students reached the 5th grade, their number stood at 0.29 million which means around 50 per cent of them dropped out. By 2012, only 0.16 million students of these are recorded in the 9th grade.

If not for the huge dropout and the spread of private education networks, the existing number of schools would hardly have accommodated all the students of the preceding stages. Are these two phenomena blessings in disguise for the planners?

Though dropout in GHSSs has not been ascertained in the report, it must have considerably decreased as both total male and female enrolment has been recorded at 41000 in last year for both first and second year.

The report further says that 1101of the total 21972 parents-teachers councils (PTCs) in primary schools are non-functional. Similarly, out of 4710 PTCs in middle and secondary schools, 192 are non-functional. The PTCs, it should be reminded, are meant for parents-teachers coordination.

The report shows that out of the sanctioned 133750 (86963 male and 46787 female) teachers, 119274 (78172 male and 41102 female) teachers work these days. It means a deficit of over 14000 teachers. Another 6992 teachers (3185 Primary and 3807 Secondary Schools teachers) will retire during the next 5 years. This, if not tackled soon, may expand teachers-students ratio and the latter’s woes, especially at higher secondary levels. 572 posts of male and 342 posts of female subject specialists, who teach students in grade 11 and 12 in the GHSSs, are still lying vacant, according to the report.

There is no analysis as to how many of the GHSSs in the province afford both medical and engineering classes, but knowledgeable sources say most of them don’t offer courses in science and most of the disciplines in arts for shortage of the subject specialists and resources.

The sector has had received considerable amount in the provincial budget and has been allocated Rs24 billion off the total ADP of Rs118 billion this year. Experts say government schools have spacious buildings and plenty of teachers but loose administration, poor monitoring mechanism, outdated curriculum, flawed examination system, overcrowded classrooms, lack of modern facilities, teachers absenteeism, outdated teaching techniques, and political interference etc are the factors responsible for the poor performance of the public sector schools vis-à-vis their private counterparts.

…………..

Original text of the article

Schools in KP left in lurch

By Tahir Ali

Experts agree that education requires a congenial atmosphere and the provision of certain facilities like water, electricity, washrooms, playgrounds and computer-labs within the school premises. But hundreds of schools in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa still lack basic facilities, an official document reveals.

It is mind-boggling to read that 20 per cent of the functional public schools still have no boundary walls, 30 per cent no water supply, 42 per cent no electricity and 16 per cent no toilets facilities.

According to the latest Annual Statistical Report released by the KP elementary and secondary education (ES&E) department, there are 28472 government schools in KP of which 27975 are functional while 397 are non-functional/temporarily closed and 100 are newly constructed. Majority or 23073 (83 per cent)of the schools are Government Primary schools (GPSs) while government middle schools (GMSs) high schools (GHSs) and higher secondary schools (GHSSs) makeup 9, 7 and 1 per cent of all the schools respectively.

Most of the non-functional/temporary closed schools are girls’ schools with 288 of them primary and 7 secondary schools.

Of the total 44873 and 25364 rooms in male and female GPSs, 4563 and 2039 rooms need major repairs, 11929 and 5504 minor repairs while another 3600 and 1416 room need rehabilitation respectively.

Similarly, amongst the 12644 rooms in GMSs, 784 need major repairs, 3048 minor repairs and 634 rooms are in need of rehabilitation. Again, off the total 15377 rooms in GHSs, 2220, 5361and 2343 rooms are in need of major and minor repairs and rehabilitation respectively. And off the 8167 rooms in GHSSs in the province, 648 rooms need major repairs, 1434 minor repairs and 647rehabilitation.

As for other facilities like library, computer and science laboratory, the report says that only 1205, 254 and 1152 off 3092 male and 451,154 and 561of the 1810 girls middle to higher schools have these facilities respectively. The rest have no such facilities and so are the GPSs.

With strategic use of computer bases learning tools, educational institutions can provide the supportive productive environment teachers need to reach, teach, and support each student’s learning needs and potential. But KP’s provincial assembly was informed last year that around 2000 GHSs and GHSSs in KP lacked computer labs and 4,500 computer teachers were needed.

According to the report, 3.93 million students study in 27975 functional government schools with 2.84 million in GPSs, 0.76mn in GMSs, 0.29mn in GHSs and 0.041mn in GHSSs across the province. 1.51mn students also read in 6743 non-govt schools here. Most of the 119274 teachers in government schools are male (78172) but female teachers in private schools account for 44466 off 85325 teachers.

The teacher-student ratio in GPSs is 1:39 and secondary schools level is 1:23 but it is much greater in some schools. The report shows that 1175 male and 1450 female GPSs have only a teacher to teach all the classes and the students-teachers ratio for these schools is 1:58 and 1:61 respectively. 344 male and 103 female primary schools have no rooms to shelter students.

10318 off the total primary schools have two rooms and two teachers, obviously short of what is required.

Though females account for over 50 per cent of population here, girls schools make up 36 per cent of all the schools but their share further comes down to 33 per cent at high and higher secondary levels.

According to a report in The News in 2009, out of total of 4338 and 2609 rooms in all schools in Mardan, as many as 713 rooms in boys’ schools and 399 in the female ones needed major repairs. The recent report says 480 rooms in male schools and 211 rooms still await major repair.

Overall Net Enrolment Ratio at primary level is 48 percent (52 and 44 percent for male and female schools) but it is at 28 per cent (33 and 21 per cent for boys and girls) in all middle to higher schools of the province.

While enrolment overall increased by around 23.9 per cent in the last 10 years (2003 to 2012), increase in teachers and functional schools was recorded at 15.7 per cent and 7.7 per cent respectively. Annual growth in the three was also disproportionate at 2.66, 1.75 and 0.86 per cent in that order. However girls’ enrolment grew by 3 times against boys’.

During 2011 and 2012, the dropout rate for the stages from 5th to 9th grade has been recorded at 16, 9, 7, 14 and 16 per cent for boys. For the girls, it has been recorded at 24, 9, 8, 21 and 8 per cent in that order.

But dropout rate could be higher if we analyse the data intently. The date reveals 0.519mn students were admitted in the prep class in GPSs across the province in 2003-04. By 2008-09, when the students reached the 5th grade, their number stood at 0.29mn which means around 50 per cent of them dropped out. By 2012, only 0.16mn students of these are recorded the 9th grade.

If not for the huge dropout and the spread of private education networks, the existing number of schools would hardly have accommodated all the students of the preceding stages. Are these two phenomena blessings in disguise for the planners?

Thought dropout in GHSSs has not been ascertained in the report, it must have considerably decreased ( Correction: increased) as both total male and female enrolment has been recorded at 41000 in last year for both first and second year.

The report further says that 1101of the total 21972 parents-teachers councils (PTCs) in primary schools are non-functional. Similarly out of 4710 PTCs in middle and secondary schools, 192 are non-functional. The PTCs, it should be reminded, are meant for parents-teachers coordination.

The report shows that out of the sanctioned 133750 (86963 male and 46787 female) teachers, 119274 (78172 male and 41102 female) teachers work these days. It means a deficit of over 14000 teachers. Another 6992 teachers (3185 Primary and 3807 Secondary Schools teachers) will retire during the next 5 years. This, if not tackled soon, may expand teachers-students ratio and the latter’s’ woes, especially at higher secondary levels.

572 posts of male and 342 posts of female subject specialists, who teach students in grade 11 and 12 in the GHSSs, are still lying vacant, according to the report.

There is no analysis as to how many of the GHSSs in the province afford both medical and engineering classes but knowledgeable sources say most of them don’t offer courses in science and most of the disciplines in arts for shortage of the subject specialists and resources.

The sector has had received considerable amount in the provincial budgets and has been allocated Rs24bn off the total ADP of Rs118bn this year. Experts say government schools have spacious buildings and plenty of teachers but loose administration, poor monitoring mechanism, outdated curriculum, flawed examination system, overcrowded classrooms, lack of modern facilities, teachers absenteeism, outdated teaching techniques, and political interference etc are the factors responsible for the poor show of performance of the public sector schools vis-à-vis their private counterparts.School report

Electing competent and honest leadership

The article was published on May5, 2013 before elections. Sorry for delayed posting.

Voting values
While the ECP and several advocacy groups are encouraging voters to cast their votes, what are the merits and demerits voters should consider before choosing their future representatives?
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/May2013-weekly/nos-05-05-2013/pol1.htm#3

A week later, on May 11, 2013, 86.18 million Pakistani voters — 48.59 million male and 37.59 million female — will elect their representatives for National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies who would subsequently choose the next federal and provincial executives.

This exercise carries immense repercussions for over 180 million people as their fate will be left at the discretion of these elected representatives. This necessitates both quantitative and qualitative improvement in voting standard.

While tax evaders, defaulters and the corrupt couldn’t be sifted during the scrutiny process, voters are now the only hope to block their entry into power corridors. They will have to come out in large numbers and elect the best amongst candidates.

However, for multiple reasons — rampant corruption, joblessness, insecurity, poverty, maladministration, unawareness, corrupt practices that manipulate elections, terrorism and the like — voters stand disillusioned with political system that has resulted in low voters’ turnout in previous elections, coming as low as 20 per cent in different constituencies.

In the 2008 general elections, though voters’ turnout was 50 and 48 per cent in Islamabad and Punjab, it was 44 per cent for the country and only 31, 31 and 33 per cent in Balochistan, Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa respectively. Women comprise around 44 per cent of the registered voters but have been mostly kept from using this basic right in the past.

The total number of voters has gone up from 80.7 million in 2008 to 86.1 million this year, but analysts foresee a low turnout due to terrorist attacks/threats, ban on transportation facility for voters by the candidates and voters’ distrust in elections and disappointment with politicians.

But the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and several advocacy groups are encouraging voters to cast their votes. With increase in the number of overenthusiastic young voters, the emergence of the PTI on the electoral landscape, a comprehensive security plan put in place for polling day, chances of massive women polling (candidates and parties concluded written agreements inhibiting women from casting votes in the past. But this time no intra-parties’ agreement has surfaced so far) and with almost all the parties participating in elections, hopefully the turnout would be good enough, between 50-55 per cent in this election.

Voters generally look at the candidate’s personal caste, character or performance, his party and its manifesto or his own personal interests at the time of voting.

Some, especially diehard workers, say parties’ performances and manifestos, rather than candidates’ characters, should be the main concern for voters because parties form governments and ultimately decide things. But the rest — the swinging majority — have their own priorities.

“The problem is parties are run by their leaders and their selected buddies. If the party is in wrong hands, they would violate rules, its manifestos and national interests for their political interests and will ruin institutions by nepotism and favouritism and use the national exchequer senselessly for self/party aggrandisement. So, a party shouldn’t be supported if its leadership and candidates’ character and competency are questionable,” says Shakirullah Khan, a lecturer.

“Some parties seek votes over slogans of religious revolution, sectarianism or support terrorists in one way or the other. Supporting them is tantamount to dividing the state and society on the basis of sects, religions or creed. Can we endure such an environment,” he argues.

Others say development work, provision of jobs and contracts, financial assistance to the needy, personal liaison with the constituents or good oratory skills should be the basis for supporting a candidate.

“But what if all this is done by a corrupt politician. Obviously, this support is driven by selfishness. Pakistan owes its retarded growth, rampant poverty and financial weakness to these flawed priorities on part of the voters. By supporting such candidates, one may end up getting benefits but this will leave the country’s resources, people and fate in the hands of senseless rulers, so it cannot be a choice of a patriotic voter,” says Muhammad Iqbal, another voter.

Independent candidates were the fourth largest group in 2008. They polled 11 per cent votes in National Assembly and 26 and 24 per cent votes in Balochistan and KP assemblies. Being the main source of horse-trading, they must never be voted for. There are always some persons with good reputation amongst the candidates, but they come from parties whose performances were dismal.

“But even if a noble fellow who is contesting from a bad party is sent to his/her parliamentary party and parliament, he/she will be a misfit there amongst most of the self-centred colleagues. Party discipline is another hindrance. If the party decides on a thing that he/she finds obnoxious, he will either have to conform or risk expulsion. If he accepts, corruption will continue as earlier,” according to Shah Hasan, another voter.

But Iqbal responded the personal abilities and character rather than the candidate’s party affiliation should be the guiding factor for voters. Ignoring all ethnic, linguistic and sectarian biases while voting, they must vote solely on the basis of honesty, sincerity, merit and competence.

Vote is a sacred trust and casting vote is mandatory. By voting someone, we testify to his character and abilities and authorise him to decide and work on our behalf. It is as if we engage a lawyer who obviously cannot be a person who can be bribed, intimidated and bought, Iqbal said. “Even if they have been nominated by popular and reputable parties, voters should reject candidates who are corrupt, loan-defaulters and tax-evaders. And they should support competent persons even if they are contesting on tickets of ‘bad/corrupt’ parties.”

Voters should continue with their determination not to send corrupt elements to parliament. This obviously is a long route. But slowly and gradually it will become a norm and most of the electorate will follow suit.

People are heard criticising corrupt leaders, but they too are equally guilty of preferring them over the incorruptible, competent and trustworthy substitutes. If parties ensure awarding tickets to ‘electables’ (not necessarily competent and honest candidates), it is because the electorate too has been accepting their nominees. It’s very shameful that electorate goes on to elect the very candidates, who were disqualified for having fake degrees. This practice of siding with the corrupt must end.

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Original text of the article

Election: choosing competent & honest representatives

By Tahir Ali

A week later, on May 11, 86.18 million Pakistani voters –48.59mn male and 37.59 female – will elect their representatives for National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies who would subsequently choose the next federal and provincial executives.

This exercise carries immense repercussions for over 180mn people as their fate will be left at the discretion of these elected representatives. This necessitates both quantitative and qualitative improvement in voting standard.

While tax evaders, defaulters’ and the corrupt couldn’t be sifted during the scrutiny process, voters are now the only hope to block their entry into power corridors. They will have to come out in large numbers and elect the best amongst candidates. 

However, for multiple reasons – rampant corruption, joblessness, insecurity, poverty, maladministration, unawareness, corrupt practices that manipulate elections, terrorism and the like – voters stand disillusioned with political system that has resulted in low voters’ turnout in previous elections, coming as low as 20 per cent in different constituencies.

In the 2008 general elections, though voters’ turnout was 50 and 48 per cent in Islamabad and Punjab, it was 44 per cent for the country and only 31, 31 and 33 per cent in Baluchistan, Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa respectively.

Women comprise around 44 per cent of the registered voters but have been mostly kept from using this basic right in the past.

Total number of voters has gone up from 80.7mn in 2008 to 86.1mn this year but analysts foresee a low turnout for terrorist attacks/threats, ban on transportation facility for voters by the candidates and voter’s distrust in elections and disappointment with politicians.

But the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and several advocacy groups are encouraging voters to cast their votes. With increase in the number of overenthusiastic young voters, the emergence of PTI on the electoral landscape, a comprehensive security plan put in place for polling day, chances of massive women polling (Candidates and parties concluded written agreements inhibiting women from casting votes. But this time no intra- parties’ agreement has surfaced so far) and with almost all parties participating in elections as against 2008 when several boycotted the process, hopefully the turnout would be good enough, between 50-55 per cent in this election.

Voters generally look at the candidate’s personal caste, character or performance, his party and its manifesto or his own personal interests at the time of voting.

Some, especially die-hard workers, say parties’ performances and manifestos, rather than candidates’ characters, should be the main concern for voters as it is parties that form governments and ultimately decide things. But the rest -the swinging majority- have their own priorities.

“The problem is parties are run by their leaders and their selected buddies. If the party is in wrong hands, they would violate rules, its manifestos and national interests for their political interests and will ruin institutions by nepotism and favouritism and use the national exchequer senselessly for self/party aggrandisement. So, a party shouldn’t be supported if its leadership and candidate’s character and competency are questionable,” says Shakirullah Khan, a lecturer.

“Some parties seek votes over slogans of religious revolution, sectarianism or support terrorists in one way or the other. Supporting them is tantamount to dividing the state and society on the basis of sects, religions or creed. Can we endure such an environment,” he argues.  

Others say development work, provision of jobs and contracts, financial assistance to the needy, personal liaison with the constituents or good oratory skills should be the bases for supporting a candidate.

“But what if all this is done by a corrupt. Obviously, this support is driven by selfishness. Pakistan owes its retarded growth, rampant poverty and financial weakness to these flawed priorities on part of the voters. By supporting such candidates, one may end up getting benefits but this will leave the country’s resources, people and fate in the hands of senseless rulers, so it cannot be a choice of a patriotic voter,” says Muhammad Iqbal, another voter.

Independent candidates were the fourth largest group in 2008. They polled 11 per cent votes in National Assembly and 26 and 24 per cent votes in Baluchistan and KP assemblies. Being the main source of horse-trading, they must never be voted for.

There are always some persons with good reputation amongst the candidates but they come from parties whose performances were dismal.

“But even if a noble fellow who is contesting from a bad party is sent to his/her parliamentary party and parliament, he/she will be a misfit there amongst most of the self-centred colleagues. Party discipline is another hindrance. If the party decides on a thing that he/she finds obnoxious, he will either have to conform or risk expulsion. If he accepts, corruption will continue as earlier. If he doesn’t, he’ll be sent packing for indiscipline,” according to Shah Hasan, another voter.

But Iqbal responded the personal abilities and character rather than the candidate’s party affiliation should be the guiding factor for voters. Ignoring all ethnic, linguistic and sectarian biases while voting, they must vote solely on the basis of honesty, sincerity, merit and competence.

Vote is a sacred trust and casting vote is mandatory. By voting someone, we testify to his character and abilities and authorise him to decide and work on our behalf. It is as if we engage a lawyer who obviously cannot be a person who can be bribed, intimidated and bought, he said.

 

“Even if they have been nominated by popular and reputable parties, voters should reject candidates who are corrupt, loan-defaulters, tax-evaders, are themselves rascals or are supported by rogues, run illegal businesses, use abusive language against opponents, are incompetent, known violators of law or support the extremists and terrorists. And they should support competent persons even if they are contesting on tickets of ‘bad/corrupt’ parties,” he said.

“Of course initially, the men of character will face tough resistance in their parliamentary parties’ meetings and parliament. Perhaps they would be asked to remain quiet or quit the seat. Suppose he/she resigns or is forced to quit over principles, the electorate in the bye-elections must reject the party’s candidate if he/she is not as competent and honest as that one or better support another whose one is better.”

According to him, this will be a lesson for all. “The corrupt will never dare compete elections in future. Parties too will never award tickets to candidates on the basis of their electability but would decide on the basis of their character and capabilities to impress the transformed electorate. The men of character so elected will then be in majority. It will bring a soft revolution in the country’s political and economic landscape. Decisions will then be taken on the basis of merit. Parties’ leadership will no more be in the hands of the corrupt but in competent and honest hands.”

Voters should continue with their determination not to send corrupt elements to parliament. This obviously is a long route. But slowly and gradually it will become a norm and most of the electorate will follow suit.

People are heard criticising corrupt leaders but they too are equally guilty for preferring them over the incorruptible, competent and trustworthy substitutes. If parties ensure awarding tickets to ‘electables’ (not necessarily competent and honest candidates), it is because the electorate too has been accepting their nominees. It’s very shameful that electorate go on to elect the very candidates, who were disqualified for having fake degrees. This practice of siding with the corrupt must end.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 354 other followers