GILGIT (ET): Professors and lecturers across Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) have launched a ‘token strike’ against the suspension of their colleagues, threatening to intensify their protest if their demands are not met within four days.
“This is the first phase of our strike and we will expand it if our demands go unnoticed,” G-B Professors and Lecturers Association President professor Muhammad Zaman told The Express Tribune.
Teachers attended classes, but wore black bands on their arms in protest. The ‘strike’ was simultaneously observed across all government colleges in the region. Zaman added they will boycott work duties in the second phase.
Last week, Professor Rubina, the principal of a women college in Skardu, was suspended along with seven male teachers ‘for inciting students to protests against the government’ last month. The teachers included professor Mir Ahmad Khan, associate professor Hashmat Ilhami and assistant professor Hasan Shad among others.
Zaman claimed the Skardu administration forcefully tried to vacate official residences of principals of women and boys degree colleges on August 27. Though the professors did not leave their homes, the action provoked teachers and students to take to the streets.
“Charges against the professors were leveled by the Skardu administration after they boycotted classes on a call from the professors and teachers association against trying to evict the principals,” said Zaman. He, however, denied inciting students to protest.
Zaman maintained the association took up the case with the chief secretary and secretary of education and also showed them evidence, but to no avail.
“It was an insult to the profession of teaching,” he added, referring to the attempt of the police to vacate official residences. “Government teachers have also assured us of their support if our demands are not met within the stipulated time
HUNZA (ET): Mohammed Rehbar is a teacher and a librarian in Hunza valley with an insatiable thirst for words. His love for learning made him collect old newspaper clips when he couldn’t afford the luxury of books.
Apart from serving as a school teacher for 34 years, Rehbar is also responsible for setting up the first library in the area, and is considered as an institution by the residents of the area.
“Mein hoon Muhammad Rehbar, mein hoon Pakistan (I am Mohammed Rehbar, I am Pakistan),” says the Hunza resident.
“I even have a newspaper that mentioned Quad-e-Azam’s death at that time,” he says. Rehbar also has a collection of newspapers containing important news, such as the creation of Bangladesh or the changing governments in Pakistan.
He says that people from the Hunza valley started taking interest when he first opened his library in the area, including illiterate elders that would come to the library and listen to Rehbar reading out the newspapers.
“It’s more of a resource room than a library. Rehbar’s resource room hosts the entire history of Pakistan,” says head teacher at FG Girls High School in Gulmit Muhammad Hussain.
Locally known as Ustad Rehbar, the librarian provides the locals with a vast collection of newspaper articles, photos and archives on various subjects.
GILGIT (ET): The ‘Teacher Mapping and Projection Model’ (TMPM) project was launched in Gilgit on Saturday. The project hopes to improve data collection methods in the region.
“The initiative aims to bring in modern data collection software tools to generate better and reliable information for institutions,” said USAID Teacher Education Project’s Provincial Director Jawad Ali at the inauguration. The project has been sponsored by USAID.
G-B’s Education Planning Director Muhammad Abideen remarked with the increasing number of schools, enrolment and teachers, old techniques can no longer be relied upon to maintain and update information.
He said an authentic data record is vital to develop an education planning document. “It is encouraging that the Education Management Information System (EMIS) department, G-B has recently upgraded its data collection and processing facilities,” Abideen said.
Explaining the project, he said the teachers mapping exercise provides details of teachers and their qualification at district and provincial levels. “This is something we have been lacking in the past.”
“With district wise information available, the district managers will be able to better plan future recruitment and infrastructure needs,” Abideen further said.
He hoped the initiative will also facilitate provincial authorities in planning and monitoring educational activities in the province. A large number of staff from districts of G-B was trained during the teacher mapping exercises, he informed.
“I also recommend that all district managers learn how to operate the data processing and projections software used by EMIS,” he said, adding this will keep them updated about the figures pertaining to their areas.
Abideen also appreciated the hard work of the EMIS staff and hoped that data collected during the mapping will be regularly updated.
The project has also extended support in provision of scholarships to trainee teachers, capacity building of the faculty of Government College Elementary Teachers, provision of equipment and furniture, and establishment of a directorate for staff development.
The TMPM project is part of the comprehensive US education assistance programme for Pakistan, which includes building or rehabilitating more than 850 schools across the country, establishing centres for advanced study at three Pakistani universities to focus on applied research in energy, agriculture and water, and expanding English skills of more than 5,000 students from low-income backgrounds.
ISLAMABAD (ET): After spending a year at a US high school and living with an American family as part of the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Programme, 25 students from different parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan recently returned home.
Sharing their experiences at the YES Re-entry Seminar held in Islamabad on June 28, these young alumni said it was a life-changing year for them.
Zaheerullah, who hails from Gilgit, is the youngest of nine children and his father owns a fabric store. He says his year in the US has taught him to speak up against the ills of society. “I gave 21 presentations about Pakistan during my studies; most of these were in a local church my host mother worked at. And somehow, I now find myself strong enough to fight against sectarian violence which prevails in Gilgit and Hunza,” said Zaheer.
Ibsan Mall, a student of Peshawar Model High School, said in his year abroad he managed to change the perception people had of his background. “In one year I made my American family and friends cry over my departure – the very same people who seemed sceptical of my background when we first met.”
A major part of the students’ experience is to take upon the role of youth ambassadors as they give presentations about their country to school peers and at youth conferences.
Many students also find the academic experience exciting as American high schools offer a range of subjects which usually are not a part of the Pakistani syllabus.
Umme Habiba, who belongs to Hangu but is currently living in Peshawar, discovered some hidden talents in the US as she became part of her school’s dance team, swimming league and art club. “I did not have any restrictions in Pakistan as well, but in the US I got so many more opportunities in all fields,” said Habiba.
The challenge of the whole experience is to make friends in the face of existing stereotypes in both countries. Zaighum Abbas, a resident of Abbottabad, said he loved reaching out to people. “I met people who thought I was a terrorist, but I took the initiative and became friends with them and showed them real Pakistanis are completely different,” he said.
These students are now part of the YES alumi network comprising over 700 people from all over Pakistan. They are geared up to join their seniors in existing community service projects and to come up with new ideas to contribute to society as was emphasised throughout their year abroad.
The YES scholarship programme is being run in Pakistan by the Society for International Education since 2003. It aims to send students aged between 15 and 17 belonging to middle and lower-middle class families to various states in the US for cultural exchange.
Alumni weigh in
The alumni network’s Youth Programme Coordinator for the southern region, Bilal Zubair Khan said, “I know from experience that it is not easy to spend a year abroad with total strangers. The students have to strike a balance between their lives and the people they live with and in the process they become more mature people.”
“During the exchange year, students get the opportunity to engage in various extracurricular activities and volunteer services which helps them get a better understanding of American norms and values,” said Hassan Saeed, the Youth Programme’s Coordinator for the northern region. “It builds their confidence and they become more independent, open minded and ready to take on challenges.”
On to an adventure
Savita Noreen from Gilgit will be heading to the US for the next YES academic year. “I read an advertisement on Facebook and downloaded the application form. I was very excited to be selected for the programme. It was hard to convince my family at first but they caved in in the end.”
Islamabad(APP): The Higher Education Commission (HEC) would establish sub-offices at Bahawalpur, Sukkar, Muzaffarabad and Gilgit to facilitate young people and general public from remote and far flung areas of Southern Punjab, upper Sindh, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. According to an official of HEC, the sub-office at Bahawalpur would be inaugurated this month while remaining sub-offices would be established subsequently.
Through these offices, HEC would guide youth of far-flung areas about various HEC programs/initiatives; scholarships and close liaison with higher education institutions of the areas would also be established. The Higher Education Commission HEC has paid special attention towards increasing access to higher education in remote and far flung areas of the country. Within last few years, out of total 55 new university campuses;31 have been established in rural areas throughout Pakistan.
A number of scholarships and other programmes have been launched aiming at equitable access to higher education throughout the country. HEC is also implementing Prime Minister’s Tuition Fee Payment Scheme for students of Balochistan, Gilgit/Baltistan and FATA which has been recently extended by the federal government to northern Sindh and southern Punjab.
HEC’ four regional centres at all four provincial headquarters are already coordinating and managing different academic activities and events meetings, workshops, seminars, trainings, HRD and Quality Assurance programs in collaboration with different divisions of HEC as well as regional institutes of higher learning.
Gilgit (APP): The Chief Court of Gilgit Baltistan reinstated services of 183 teachers on Friday, who were dismissed a month before by the higher authorities of Education Department. Court Sources said that on March 14 senior authorities dismissed 183 teachers declaring their appointment illegal and without fulfillment of laid down procedure. The terminated teachers filed a writ petition in the Chief Court seeking relief.
Meanwhile on March 23 the Chief Secretary Sajjad Salim Hottiana withdrew the orders of Secretary Education and said rules for termination of services were not adopted. The Chief Court while disposing off the petition said that since the Chief Secretary has withdrawn notification of termination which was issued by Secretary Education, there is no justification to hear this petition.
Karachi (Nation): NOP scholar Sardar Karim (BS Economics Major 2010) – who also went on two exchange programmes during his stay at Lums – has been offered Fulbright Scholarship for 2013-15. Karim is the 14th NOP scholar who has got the prestigious Fulbright scholarship award. He is also among the eight successful candidates, who have received a Joint Japan-World Bank Graduate Scholarship.
Each year, the scholarship is awarded to eight candidates from 140 World Bank member borrower countries. Karim will join Harvard University’s John F Kennedy School of Government for a two-year Masters in Public Administration in International Development (MPA/ID).
Karim calls his experience at Lums matchless, saying: “Lums was a matchless experience in terms of knowledge, exposure and learning. I am grateful to my college (Aga Khan Higher Secondary School, Gilgit) and NOP for opening this door of excellence to me. Since it was the first time I had moved out of Gilgit-Baltistan after 18 years of my life, Lums was a unique place for me.”
In his encouraging message for the upcoming lot, Karim said: “Always strive for the best. You are the lucky ones to be at Lums, make it count. You are lucky to be anywhere you are, because there are many out there who only dream for what you have already. Make your efforts count and strive for the best.”
In response to his choice of concentration for studying at Harvard, Karim said: “For Mahatma Gandhi ‘Poverty was the violence of worst kind’, and for Nelson Mandela ‘Overcoming poverty was an act of justice’. As a young lad in a remote village of Gilgit, I was ignorant not only of these proverbs, but also of their meaning.
“It was only after I attended Lums that I started to perceive the meaning of poverty and connect it with violence and injustice. I could compare the opportunities at Lums and those in Gilgit. Moreover, exposure to cities of Tokyo, Stockholm, Paris, Berlin and Rome gave me yet another perspective of deprivations Pakistan was facing as a country. Later, working at Rural Support Programmes Network (RSPN) Islamabad, I travelled extensively to interior Sindh. I observed even griever deprivations and injustices of poverty. When I read about Africa, there are millions in need of food and shelter; health and education are even farther for them.”
Talking about the latest on the professional front, Karim said: “I am working as Programme Officer with the RSPN in USAID’s Assessment and Strengthening Program (ASP). Lums is also a partner in the programme. I have been associated with the RSPN for 2 and half years now. As a volunteer I am affiliated with Aga Khan Social Welfare Board for Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Peshawar, Mardan, Abbottabad Region as Honorary Secretary of the institution.”