The Karachi board fails to prevent paper leaks and cheating during exams

The Board of Intermediate Education Karachi (BIEK) has failed to prevent cheating and the paper leaks during the ongoing final exams for the students of intermediate.

The exams for the first-year and second-year students started on the 18th of June. Within only the first week of the exams, one paper from each part got leaked before the start of the exam.

The commerce exam for the first-year students was scheduled to be on Tuesday 21st June. However, the question paper was seen circulating on multiple social media platforms before the start of the exam.

Likewise, the exam of Mathematics was scheduled to be on Monday 20th of June, and the paper leaked before the start of the exam just like the Commerce one.

The stories of the mismanagement of the board do not end here. In many examination halls, more students have been allocated than the seating capacity. Resultantly, hundreds of students had to take their exams while sitting on the floors.

It made it difficult for the invigilators to keep a check and balance in the rooms, too. Many students were found using mobile phones in the halls. The crowd and congested seating made it easier for them to use their phones and engage in cheating activities.

Similar incidents of cheating were also seen in the board exams for matric held by the Board of Secondary Education, Karachi. The papers leaked, and students kept using mobile phones and books. Moreover, many students were found to be using cheating material openly during the exam. Even after being bashed by educationists, journalists and students, no improvement could be seen in the current exams.

Related: HSSC exams in Karachi to start on June 18

FBISE rejects the claims of paper leaks on social media

The paper of the English exam for the second-year intermediate students that was held on Tuesday, 21st June by the Federal Board of Intermediate & Secondary Education (FBISE) got leaked on social media a night before the exam, according to reports.

The objective paper that constitutes 20 marks could be seen circulating on multiple social media platforms. However, the federal board could not notice it until the start of the exam, apparently.

The Federal Board refused the claims and said that the paper was a part of the model paper. However, sources claimed that it was a part of the final exam that happened the next day.

FBISE further made its stance clear by saying that there are different educational websites that share the model papers for different exams. It said that the remaining model papers could also be seen on these websites and the one that went viral on the social media platforms was also one of them.

Similar incidents of paper leaks have been found in other board exams. Particularly, the Karachi board (BSEK) could not stop its papers from going viral during both matric and intermediate examination. The FBISE is rejecting the claims but sources are still persistent that the objective paper was leaked. Whether the claims of FBISE are merely a face-saving attempt or the truth, no one knows yet.

Related: International Acclaim for Research Paper by FBISE Chairman

HEC warns students of affiliated colleges

The Higher Education Commission (HEC), in its latest report, banned affiliated colleges from offering higher degree programs like Master’s, MPhil, PhD and it also advised students not to take admission to any such colleges.

The official statement explained that only those colleges can offer Master’s, MPhil, and PhD programs that are affiliated with some HEC-recognized higher education institutes. Any affiliated college cannot offer any of these programs.

The Higher Education Commission advised students to check if the college is affiliated before taking admissions. It further warned that the degrees from the affiliated institutes will not be recognized or verified by HEC.

Moreover, in the same week, the Higher Education Commission also told students that the degree attestation agents are all fake and students should be careful to not get scammed by them.

It said that students should apply only to the Degree Attestation System (DAS) of the HEC. All other certificates, verified by any other agent, will be considered illegal and confiscated if found by the commission.

There is also news that the Higher Education Commission is planning to launch Master’s and MPhil programs in the colleges recently affiliated with HEC recognized universities.

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PM takes notice of the delay in textbooks delivery by PCTB

PM Shehbaz Sharif has taken notice of the delay in the printing of school textbooks by the Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board (PCTB). Millions of students could not get their books this year and PCTB did not give any valid reason for this delay.

The Education Minister, Rana Tanveer Hussain, has been ordered to present to the government a detailed report on the delays in the printing and delivery of textbooks.

The Prime Minister ordered that the delivery of the textbooks should be started as soon as possible and the department should take action to not let such a situation happen again.

Shehbaz Sharif also ordered Rana Tanveer, the education minister, to identify the factors behind this delay and take strict action against the members involved in this.

More than three million students this year entered the vacation period without having textbooks in their hands. The teachers and parents are worried about how the students will do their homework and prepare for the coming academic years without books. They have been promoted to the next classes and will be entering the new academic year with no access to books.

All we could know about this delay was that the printing has been delayed due to management issues in the PTCB. The board has promised to deliver the books in August but the Prime Minister has ordered the earliest delivery. Let us see how effectively the decision is followed.

Related: PCTB delays the delivery of textbooks to students

42 billion allocated for all the development projects of HEC

Rs. 41.87 billion has been approved to be allocated to all the development projects working under Higher Education Commission (HEC) by the Finance Division. There are almost 149 Public Sector Development Projects (PSDP) under HEC for which the budget of around 42 billion rupees is approved.

Many of the projects are already in progress and some have been added now. According to reports, around 11 new projects have been approved to be carried out by HEC. For the new projects, a budget of Rs. 3.1 billion is allocated whereas the rest goes for the previously run projects.

Talking about the distribution of the budget, Rs. 60 million is allocated for bilateral academic and research ties with different countries. Likewise, Rs. 300 million has been approved for academic collaboration with universities under the CPEC consortium.  Rs. 200 million is allocated to build AJK Women University in Bagh (WUAJK) and Rs. 417.73 million is allocated for FATA University. Whereas Rs. 350 million has been allocated for establishing the University of Gwadar.

On the other hand, Rs. 450 million has been announced for creating educational opportunities for the students of Balochistan and FATA. Moreover, for the scholarships of Gilgit Baltistan students, a budget of Rs. 100 million has been allocated. Also, Rs. 20 million has been allocated for the scholarships of students from Gwadar.

For Afghan students, along with a budget of 1 billion rupees for providing 3000 scholarships under the Allama Iqbal Scholarship Program, a further 70 million rupees have been allocated. Furthermore, for the Coastal Region Higher Education Scholarships Program for Balochistan students, Rs. 200 million has been approved.

In the Information Technology sector, Rs. 354.07 million has been allocated to the National Center of Excellence in Big Data and Cloud Computing, Rs. 185 million to the Center of Excellence in Cyber Security, and Rs. 200 million to the National Center of Excellence in Robotics and Automation.

Talking about the Ph.D. programs, Rs. 400 million has been approved for Ph.D. fellowships and Rs. 235 million for the Master’s leading to Ph.D. programs for the Balochistan students. Along with that, Rs. 50 million has been allocated for phase 2 of overseas MS/MPhil leading to Ph.D. programs and Rs. 600 million for phase 3 of the same programs.

The Financial Division has approved the allocation of Rs. 1 billion rupees for the Higher Education Development Program of Pakistan (HEDPP).

For Pak-UK Education Gateway, Rs. 300 million has been approved. Whereas, Rs. 250 million rupees has been announced for Pak-USAID merit and need-based scholarship programs and Rs. 600 million for the HEC-USAID Fulbright Scholarship Support Program.

The government has allocated 1 billion rupees for the Prime Minister’s Laptop Scheme. The rest of the budget has been allocated to Kamyab Jawan Program and Youth Olympics.

Related: KPK shows the highest literacy growth rate in PES 2021-22

KPK shows the highest literacy growth rate in PES 2021-22

KPK has shown the highest literacy growth rate according to Pakistan Economic Survey (PES) 2021-22. The survey explains how the economy performed in the fiscal year 2021-22 which will be ending on June 30th.

The survey also indicates the education completion rate of different sectors of education. According to the reports, the Primary Education Completion Rate for the year 2021-22 was 67 %, the Lower Education completion rate was 47 %, and the Upper Secondary Education rate was 23 %.

The province-wise analysis of PES shows that the highest growth was seen in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It increased from 52.4 % in the year 2018-19 to 55.1 % in 2020-21. On the second number comes Balochistan. Its literacy rate increased from 53.9 % in 2018-19 to 55.5 % in 2020-21. On the other hand, Punjab and Sindh showed almost the same growth. The literacy rate in Punjab grew to 66.3 % in 2020-21 from 66.1 % in 2018-19. Whereas in Sindh, it grew to 61.8 % from 61.6 %. Conclusively, growth in the literacy rate was seen in every province.

Overall, the literacy rate in Pakistan increased from 62.4 % in the fiscal year 2018-19 to 62.8 % in the fiscal year 2020-21. The gender-wise analysis of the PES shows that the literacy rate of females increased from 51.5 % in 2018-19 to 51.9 % in 2020-21. However, the literacy rate of males increased from 73 % to 73.4 %.

Coming to the area-wise analysis of the survey, an increase in the literacy rate of both urban and rural areas was found. In the urban areas, the literacy rate increased from 76.1 % to 77.3 % whereas, in rural areas, it increased from 53.7 % to 54 %.

Moreover, the number of educational institutes also increased significantly in a year. The number of institutes was 271,800 in FY 2018-19 and increased to 277,500 in FY 2020-21.

The expenditure on education also increased in the current fiscal year. It was 1.77 % of the total GDP. It was raised by 9.7 % as compared to the previous year. Concluding the figures, the PES 2021-22 showed an overall growth in the education sector of Pakistan in multiple aspects. Seeing remote and previously neglected areas of the country grow at a significant rate is a great sign for the education sector. The budget should be further increased and measures should be taken to maintain the growth of education in Pakistan.

Related: 42 billion allocated for all the development projects of HEC

Students and faculty show disapproval over LUMS fee hike

LUMS has raised its fee by thirteen percent for the courses and hostels and there has been a backlash against this hike on Twitter where students and faculty have shown their disapproval against the decision.

According to the new fee, students will have to pay 26,910 rupees per credit hour which was 23,760 before the fee hike.  The dues of hostels have also been raised to over 60,000. A social activist and a faculty member, Nida Kirmani, in her tweet said that the classes are getting bigger which is impacting her teaching. She said, ‘I have seen my classes get bigger every year, which impacts my teaching; I see the abysmal salaries of lower staff while also watching as unnecessary renovations are made throughout the campus. This is leading to growing resentment amongst faculty and students.’

Meanwhile, Ali Hasanain, a faculty member at LUMS replied to student complaints and said that if students are against this decision, they should discuss where the cuts can be made without affecting the education quality. He tweeted, ‘A fee hike lower than inflation requires making cuts. Rather than asking admin to wish inflation away, students should engage in a conversation on where cuts can be made without reducing the quality of education.’

He further said that LUMS could lower its costs but that requires ‘guttling projects, centers, departments, even Schools.’

Well, to this opinion an asst Professor Sanval Nasim, came up and said that grad programs do not offer the quality education that LUMS promises. It is known only the undergrad education, he said. Sanval Nasim tweeted in response to Ali Hasanain’s tweet, ‘Unpopular opinion but got to gut a lot of the useless grad programs. LUMS has always been known for its solid undergrad education-that’s what it’s known for globally. You won’t get this sort of undergrad education anywhere in Pakistan.’ He further said, ‘grad programs haven’t worked out-scrap them.’

In the comments, many people tweeted their disapproval about the low quality of graduate programs. With all these fee hikes, if universities cannot offer quality education, what are the students paying for? Ali Hasanain further said in reply to Nasim’s tweet, ‘In general, a university run on student tuition should only keep programs that pay for themselves.’ ‘We can’t raise ambitions before endowments,’ he added.

Related: Rising Fees & Falling Standards, LUMS Fee Hike

Fun facts about Lahore School of Economics (LSE)

Lahore School of Economics (LSE) is a beautiful campus with a cool and calm yet very productive environment. Usually, it is considered an institute of elites which is to a great extent true. Here are a few fun facts about the campus life of LSE.

  1. Smoking is not allowed but what are the washrooms for

Smoking is prohibited on the campus but students always know where to find the place. So, the washrooms are used as a safe space for smoking. They are the heavens for smokers because who will come inside to stop them?

  1. The Cricket ground and the dating spot are the same things in LSE

The cricket ground is used for playing cricket in one shift and as a dating spot in the other shift. Every university or college has some typical areas for dating couples. Well, the LSE has smartly provided a place within the cricket ground. Sounds like they really care for the economy.

  1. Cars with loud music are banned on campus

Everyone would think that campus life is about fun and partying. But you can get an idea from the fact that you cannot even take the cars within the campus and if they have loud music, there is no chance you can get in.

  1. Every room in LSE has two adjacent doors opening in opposite directions

The doors of the LSE are strange. Every room has two doors fixed parallel and adjacent to each other. Your left hand pulls a door and the right hand pushes the other door right after that.

  1. Guys have to wear a collared shirt and the girls can wear anything

 At least something in the world is happening in girls’ favor. In LSE, there is no dress code for girls but the boys can only wear collared shirts. Not supporting boys’ dress code here, but isn’t it the only place at least in Pakistan that does not have dress restrictions on girls but boys.

  1. The security is strict but not after 3 pm

Getting into LSE is not easy as there are strict security regulations. But if you want to get in even if you are not a student of LSE, you can get into it after 3 pm.

  1. The milk used in cafes for the live ice cream comes from Dr Shahid’s farms

Dr. Shahid is a professor who has farms on the backside of the campus. Since you have a facility at home, why look at some other place? So, the live ice cream that is famous in LSE is made from milk coming from Dr. Shahid’s farms.

  1. If you think it is a party place, talk to some LSE-ites

For those who think LSE is a party place, you are mistaken. People usually say, if you really want to study, go to LUMS. But you can only know about it once you talk to a student. The burden of assignments and presentations doesn’t let you breathe,

  1. There is a culture of not preparing presentations beforehand

No one in the classes has the habit of preparing the presentations beforehand. With time you realize that only one student in the group prepares the slides and the rest of the group is on a free ride.

  1. There is nothing like stairs in LSE

LSE’s structure is not like other campuses. It is all about ground-level buildings and no upper floors. So, there is nothing like long stairs on the campus. The campus is very beautiful and different from others. You will see peacocks here and there around the auditorium. In short, it has both a peaceful and fun environment.

Related: UMT, LUMS, LSE Top Business Schools in Punjab

Government cuts HEC budget by over 50 percent

The government has decided to further reduce the budget for Higher Education Commission (HEC) in the next fiscal year by 50 percent. The people of Pakistan were hoping for a constructive change in the field of education by PML-N after their condemning and criticizing statements against PTI’s policies. But this decision has taken everyone to further despair. PML-N has been speaking against the budget allocated to HEC by the PTI government which was 62.25 billion rupees. However, it has cut the budget by more than 50 percent making it Rs. 30 billion for the year 2022-23.

The circular was issued on Monday by the Finance Division stating the budget for the coming academic year. It asked the Higher Education Commission to prepare the budget statement according to what has been decided as the estimated budget for 2022-23 and submit it to the budget wing director of the Finance Division. However, HEC has clearly stated that the budget will never be sufficient for the running of universities and that it will paralyze higher education in the country. Also, it had demanded Rs. 100 billion for the smooth running of the public sector universities.  In the statement it said,

“The PTI government had already minimized the HEC budget due to which varsities across the country were facing severe financial crunch. Therefore, a further cut in the budget will monetarily paralyze higher education in the country as a majority of varsities have no capacity to generate funding for annual expenditures.” According to the statistics shared by HEC, there are 150 public universities in the country operating under this institute, 12 centers of excellence, 38 research entities, and many other centers. The funding that comes to HEC has to be used for all the research activities in the above-mentioned institutes and for other purposes.

This is such a huge crisis that under this budget HEC will not be able to fund universities. As a result, they might need to double their fees to meet the expenses according to some experts. The said budget is highly insufficient and might not be sufficient for even the proper functioning of the Higher Education Commission. Experts are of the view that the public universities will not be able to work on the development projects going on in different departments. It will also become difficult to hire new staff and carry out research activities.

If the decision persists and the HEC is forced to operate under the said budget, universities will have to stop offering new courses. This situation will not be less than a disaster for the education sector of Pakistan.

Related: VCs shocked over drastic budget cut for higher education

PCTB delays the delivery of textbooks to students

Millions of students in Punjab have been promoted to the next classes without receiving textbooks due to delays in the delivery of books because of the insufficient books printed by Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board (PCTB).

According to the reports, there have been management issues in PCTB due to which the printing of the books for grades six to nine has been affected. PCTB has given the time till August for the printing and delivery of books to the respective grades’ students.

Summer vacation is about to start and the teachers worry that giving the vacation homework without textbooks will not be possible. Likewise, parents have presented their concerns about the waste of their children’s time and lack of resources.

A representative of the Punjab Teachers Union (PTU) while talking about this issue said that the delays in the printing of books have happened due to the uncertain political atmosphere in Pakistan. Adding to the severity of the issue, the School Education Department (SED) and Higher Education Department (HED) of Punjab are functioning without regular ministers. This is directly affecting the education of students of all grades.

A senior official of the School Education Department while talking to a media house said, “There is a delay in the printing of books for classes six to nine and the books will not be available in the coming weeks. The reason is that there has been no meeting on printing the books due to the current political situation as we don’t know whether the books will be printed following the Single National Curriculum or the old curriculum.” He added that they have prepared most of the textbooks for compulsory subjects for primary grades and that they will be sent for distribution. Whereas for the classes sixth to ninth, they are waiting for the government’s instructions.

He also said that the current government should decide about the future of the Single National Curriculum but no meetings have been held for that purpose.

Related: Public schools in Lahore face a shortage of textbooks