Govt lacks funds to open labs in all schools

Govt lacks funds to open labs in all schools

Education Minister Mujtaba Shujaur RehmanEducation Minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman admitted in the Punjab Assembly on Thursday that the government could not open science laboratories in most of the schools owing to paucity of funds.

He avoided giving any assurance to the House that the government would open science laboratories in all the schools and said that the members of the assembly could equip schools with science laboratories through their development funds.On the first day of its 33rd session of the assembly, Mujtaba remained a target of the strong criticism of the members across the divide who demanded the Speaker give him stern warning or to suspend him as he had failed to hold accountability of the Education department which was feeding wrong answers to him.

Responding to the query of Treasury MPA Raheela Khadim Hussain, Mujtaba informed the House that the provincial government had allocated Rs 2 billion during 2010-11 for opening science labs in schools but the amount was diverted to the flood-hit areas.However, Treasury MPA Naveed Anjum claimed the government had allocated Rs 2 billion for opening science laboratories in schools but they were not spent by the government for that purpose. He was of the view that the government was playing with the future of students, alleging that it allocated amount for the purpose but later, diverted it to other issues. Even Speaker Rana Iqbal directed the minister for giving assurance to the House regarding opening of science laboratories. Nevertheless, the minister avoided giving any assurance amidst claims that members could do it from their personal development funds.

The members also pointed out to the Speaker that there were certain questions which did not have answers. They lamented that the department was giving answers to their questions after three years but they were incorrect, missing or misleading.A number of members, including Ihsanul Haq Naulatha, Azma Bukhari and many other alleged that the education minister had a habit of giving wrong answers so there should be an enquiry against him. The Speaker Rana Iqbal directed the education minister to hold departmental enquiry of wrong answers and submit a report to the assembly.

Responding to a question raised by the PML-Q’s Seemal Kamran during the question-hour session, the education minister said that laptops would be provided to students purely on merit and it was the decision of the government to make every student computer literate. He said the Punjab government had started the process of distributing laptops from the higher education side and would facilitate students of the province. However, the statement of the provincial minister could not satisfy the questioner who, in her question, insisted that the minister must tell the House what measures were taken to equip the science labs in the schools of Punjab.

Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana Mohammed Iqbal asked the Opposition MPA to let the proceedings continue after the answer had been given but his remarks further annoyed the PML-Q legislator who protested against the ‘new trend’ started in the assembly when the chair was answering on the behalf of the minister or the parliamentary secretary.Responding to a question of PML-Q’s Khadija Umer whether there were opportunities the PTC, SST teachers and lecturers of promotion, the minister replied that there were chances of promotions for them. Ehsanul Haq Nolatia of the PPP expressed dissatisfaction with the answer of a question mentioned in the answer book which, according to him, was contradictory to the facts.

Meanwhile, Deepender Sindh, member of Lok Sabha and son of Indian state Haryana’s chief minister, also watched the assembly proceedings from the visitors’ gallery. He was welcomed by the Speaker and other members of the House. A PML-Q member, on a point of order, also voiced concern over the deaths caused due to open manholes in the City and demanded measures to prevent such occurrences.