Govt to convert public sector schools English medium by June


Question hour began yesterday with the Punjab Education Minister Mian Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman put at the answering pedestal. The day was embarrassing for the minister as he was forced to apologise over various lacks in information provided by the education department on questions raised by the house.
Government schools to be English medium:
All public sector schools in Punjab would be converted into English medium by the end of this fiscal year, said the Punjab Education Minister Mian Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman during the question hour on Tuesday in the Punjab Assembly.
The minister assured the house that the government had made all arrangements and would complete the official work within the stipulated time period. Responding to a question from Ms Talat Yaqoob about the procedure for the registration of publishers, the minister said there was a proper procedure. He ruled out any favoritism or recommendations based policy in the department.
Publisher mafia:
Sheikh Alla-ud-Din, a treasury member said that there was a mafia of publishers that was causing serious losses to the government and the minister himself was helpless before them. He said that the publishers were paid 400 to 500 percent extra amounts because of their cartel. The minister responding to Sheikh said that no such cartel was in his knowledge but stern action would be taken as soon as the issue was brought to notice. Sheikh Alla-ud-din said that he would soon prove that books were being provided to the students on inflated rates. He suggested that the after the new registration and involvement of new publishers this monopoly could be controlled. Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal on this asked the minister to look into the issue seriously.
The minister informed the house that the Punjab text book board was comparatively working much better than the other provinces.
The education minister faced embarrassment because of the poor performance of his department and he tendered his apology for the departmental errors. At one stage even the Speaker Punjab Assembly Rana Muhammad Iqbal warned him for misguiding the house.
Flimsy answers:
The minister that was seemed very confident on the beginning of the question hour session realized that it would be difficult to satisfy his colleagues because the answers provided to him by his department carried misinformation.
The minister was asked about the provision of basic facilities to girls and boys schools of Gujarat falling in the PP-113 constituency. He informed the house that electricity had yet to be provided to 20 girls school, 9 primary schools, one boys high school and one elementary school.
The minister was dumb founded when Mian Tariq Mahmood raised the point that if the electricity was not available in these schools then how were they using the computer labs mentioned in the list provided by the education department.
The minister tried to answer by saying that the labs ran on UPSs but soon realized that the UPSs also needed electricity to get recharged.
Treasury member Hassan Murtaza pointed out another discrepancy in the information provided by the education department in which it showed the presence of 19 headmasters and 25 headmistresses only at the two schools in Jhang. The minister apologised yet again for this blunder.
No accountability of funds:
Mian Tariq also pointed out that despite the allocations of funds was made to the education department the department had yet failed to provide the mentioned facilities in the schools. The minister demanded that the funds had to be dispatched.
Ms Anjum Safdar asked the minister about the performance of the Punjab Examination Board on which minister seized to reply as his department had yet again provided misleading information to him stating that there was ‘no zero percent result’.
The minister himself admitted that the information was not correct and requested the speaker to keep pending this question as he did not want to mislead the house.
‘I am personally not satisfied with the answers of department’, he told the house.
The minister while responding to another question by Ms Talat Yaqoob about the return of schools to missionaries said that he needed time to reply. He while admitting the errors said that he was not in a position to reply on which the speaker rescued him by allowing him to inform the house on Wednesday (today).
To another question by the opposition member Amna Ulfat, the minister denied the use of Zakat money for the students of government school as 152 schools were adopted by the NGOs and were running under their supervision. He said that the NGOs did not provide any details about the funds; as to how they collected them. He said that during the previous regime some schools were given to NGOs for the period of ten years and there was no rule that allowed the government to audit the NGOs.