trend
Football gains ground
A number of football clubs have opened up in the city as schools have started taking it more seriously
By Saad Tahir
A domestic footballer myself, I am proud to say that Lahore has indulged in the game with a burst in the sky. Children of ages ranging from 7 to 17 have become active participants in this sport. Children from all over the city gather in parks or backyard of their homes for some football.
Apart from children, parents have also developed quite a penchant for this sport and they try to inculcate interest for football among their children. With every match of the Euro Cup and the World Cup, this game is gaining more and more popularity among the Pakistani youth in general and Lahori boys in particular with Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Rooney as their role models.

MOOD STREET
Anomalies of the present
By Saeed Ur Rehman
Visiting the Kalar Kahar region is like having a strong shot of espresso coffee: it sets me brooding. In the monsoon, the usually scraggy, brown mountains acquire all the mind-bending shades and shapes of green. I have never tested this theory but I think this region should not be visited by anyone under the influence of any hallucinogenic drug because, even normally, the mountains look like fossils of alien creatures imagined by a crazy science fiction writer. Because of this untested hypothesis, I arrived ?  with a friend who has a keen interest in art, design and architecture totally sober.

Town Talk
Conference: 2nd International Exhibition & Conference on Islamic Banking & Finance from tomorrow, Aug 25-27 at Aiwan-e-Iqbal Complex.
Pakistani film is shown at Alhamra, Hall III, The Mall every
Thursday at 8pm.
Puppet Show at Alhamra, The Mall every Sunday at 11am.
Talent Hunt Show (singing) every Saturday at 7pm

issue
Fit to be a doctor?
The entry test system should not be abolished, without first removing the current lapses in our education system
By Fakhar-ul-Islam and
Muhammad Zubair
Zara Ali read this news item in a newspaper in her house in Kallur Kot, district Bhakkar and her last hope to become a doctor faded. It read, "The Punjab Government may abolish the entrance test for admission to medical and dental colleges."

Right career choices
Proper guidance to students can help them go in the right field. We need more career counselling in our educational institutions
By Ayesha Khalid
Through proper career counseling we can have the best professionals in every field. Unfortunately, we have less career counseling centers than required in our city. The schools and universities which are offering career counseling to their students can be counted on finger tips.
It can be said that the institutes which are providing this facility, are no doubt generating the best workers in their respective fields. The more prominent among these institutions are LACAS, The City School, GCU, LUMS, PCBA and BNU.

 

trend
Football gains ground

A domestic footballer myself, I am proud to say that Lahore has indulged in the game with a burst in the sky. Children of ages ranging from 7 to 17 have become active participants in this sport. Children from all over the city gather in parks or backyard of their homes for some football.

Apart from children, parents have also developed quite a penchant for this sport and they try to inculcate interest for football among their children. With every match of the Euro Cup and the World Cup, this game is gaining more and more popularity among the Pakistani youth in general and Lahori boys in particular with Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Rooney as their role models.

Fayyaz, a young teenager, wakes up early in the morning at about 6 and gets dressed to go to the park in the kit -- jersey and shorts, together with football socks and spikes on his feet. His friends are waiting for him on the bench in the football ground of Model Town. A place that wore a deserted look till now suddenly becomes a sight for an exciting sport activity.

It doesn't take long before he arrives with a glass of milk in his hand and flanked by his mother to support him in a domestic football match between Lahore United and Model Town Football Club. The teams comprising exuberant youngsters lock themselves into a lively football contest.

Surprisingly, many football clubs formed over the last few years in Lahore such as Model Town Football Club (MTFC) and Lahore United but Lahore Lajpaals are more notable. The city district government has made available large fields for playing football for fun as well as for serious contests. The MTFC has initiated a campaign to provide sufficient coaching to young boys who are equipped with a talent for football. They pick up children of ages ranging from 6 to 18 for proper professional training.

While talking to TNS, Mubashir Imtiaz, manager Model Town Football Club said: "I'm hoping that my team will reach an international level and will proudly qualify for F.A cup. This may seem impossible but I believe in my team and it will succeed." He also praised Mian Amir Mahmood, Nazim of Lahore, who he says has played a decisive role in the development of football fields throughout Model Town.

There has also been an emergence of a football league known as the Geo Super Football League.  which is helping in the promotion of football in Lahore. The Geo Super Football League (SFL) is the first professional Pakistani football league and is associated with the Pakistan Football Federation. SFL has still a long way to go to match the Pakistan Premier League (PPL). The winners of SFL won't be declared the official champions of Pakistan like PPL winners. Geo TV Network and the Pakistan Football Federation came together in 2006 and worked towards establishing Pakistan's first national inter-city football league to be televised and broadcast live on Geo Super. The Geo Super Football League was created as a way to fuse Pakistan's football talent, with experienced international players playing with youth, in order to promote football in Pakistan.

It would be a new top flight league, and for the first time the teams will be professional and non departmental. They represent Pakistan's major cities. Youngsters of requisite potential were selected after a gruelling nation-wide hunt of all aspiring football players, and will make up half of the team.

Thousands of youngsters and experienced players turned out at trials in Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta, which took place between June 17-25 and only a few were short-listed.

Given the level of interest, the selection committee, consisting of members of the PFF and Geo TV Network, had their work cut out for them. Over a 100 matches were held in all the locations in varying degrees of heat and weather conditions. Each player was given ample chance to prove himself through these matches, which revealed their ability to perform in real-time, tense situations. Each player was individually assessed during the matches and in serious post-match analysis of every match that was played, before final selections took place. The current champions are 'Islamabad United' winning 4-3 on penalties in the final against 'Karachi Bazigar.' The club from Lahore playing in this league is 'Lahore Lajpaals F.C.'

Top schools of Lahore such as Aitchison College, Lahore American School, International School of Choueifat, Lahore Grammar School also take football quite seriously and work quite doggedly to improve the skills of the students by providing professional training. Then, once a year, these schools send their football teams to different parts of the country and even different parts of the world for tournaments. PFA should take notice of these emerging students from these schools who could be the future football heroes.

 

MOOD STREET
Anomalies of the present

Visiting the Kalar Kahar region is like having a strong shot of espresso coffee: it sets me brooding. In the monsoon, the usually scraggy, brown mountains acquire all the mind-bending shades and shapes of green. I have never tested this theory but I think this region should not be visited by anyone under the influence of any hallucinogenic drug because, even normally, the mountains look like fossils of alien creatures imagined by a crazy science fiction writer. Because of this untested hypothesis, I arrived ?  with a friend who has a keen interest in art, design and architecture totally sober.

First we turned left after taking the Kalar Kahar exit on M2 and arrived at the Kalar Kahar Lake and the PTDC motel. There were Ferris wheels, swings, and merry-go-rounds and hordes of tourists there. Burger and kebab vendors were enjoying a brisk business. This was not the right place for a collaborative session of brooding-while-looking-over-the-mountains and photography. So we asked for directions to the ruins of Katasraj, hoping that the remnants of past civilisations would be the right place to spend some hours recovering from our daily 9-to-5 and 5-to-midnight grinds in Lahore. We retraced our tyre marks to the M2 and took the right turn and over the bridge and across to the right side. After driving for 25 kilometres, past the monstrous cement factories and rolling, scraggy green hills, we arrived at the magnificent ruins a couple of hours before sunset.

I was ready to just sit and brood without tea, coffee or moonshine and contemplate the impermanence of civilisations and their ideas of self-importance; so I left the luxury of photography to my companion. But as soon as he took a couple of pictures, a guard arrived and stopped us: "You are photographing the building without a human being in the frame. This is not allowed." I was intrigued. It reminded me of the Soviet bureaucratic logic. We were guilty of some capitalistic pleasure if we photographed just the building. And it was a new logic which we had never encountered before at other sites managed by the Punjab Department of Archaeology. All the desire for brooding on the fate of past civilisations had evaporated. I was worried about the survival of the one in which I was living.

My friend found a curious solution. He asked the guard to be in the photograph to satisfy the requirement of having a human being in every frame. The guard was convinced but only after one picture he realised the camera angle was putting him on the left margin of the frame   for cropping him out later on. So he forbade us altogether and took us to his boss who said we had to go and get permission from the director of his department whose office was in Lahore. We were speechless because we had just driven from Lahore. So we left the ruins and the bureaucratic nightmare and went looking for a cup of tea. There was a dingy hotel nearby with Bollywood remixes blaring on the TV. Suddenly it felt like the narrative of Mahabharata was continuing without any break from the ruins of the Katasraj to the post-modern remixes. But the local jobless men sitting wide-eyed in front of the electronic spectacle were also there adding complexity to the illusion of the monolithic narrative.

The chai was not as karak as TV advertisements tell it is in rural or non-urban settings. So we left for the more predictable smoothness of the motorway. Soon we were in the 50 km/hr speed zone going uphill and downhill. There we saw another marvel of engineering. There are ramps on the left side, going up from the third, the slowest lane. They are meant as emergency stopping measures for those vehicles whose brakes have failed on the hills. I asked my friend: "What will happen to the unstoppable vehicle who has gone up a ramp?" He was quiet. I persisted: "How will the bed of the ramp keep the runaway vehicle there? Will not descend back to the road?" There was no clear answer available. We both concluded ours was a confusing civilisation with no clear cut answers and travelled back to Lahore.

The next day I went to my office and googled "katas ruins" for images. There were 13200 images available in various sizes. The Department of Archaeology had certainly been very efficient. Then while surfing the net I came across a sentence by Nietzsche which explained many things: "Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule."

 

Town Talk

Conference: 2nd International Exhibition & Conference on Islamic Banking & Finance from tomorrow, Aug 25-27 at Aiwan-e-Iqbal Complex.

 

Pakistani film is shown at Alhamra, Hall III, The Mall every

Thursday at 8pm.

 

Puppet Show at Alhamra, The Mall every Sunday at 11am.

 

Talent Hunt Show (singing) every Saturday at 7pm

at Alhamra, The Mall.

 

Panjabi Sangat is a weekly gathering every Friday and Sunday at Najam Hussain Sayed's house at 7pm where Punjabi classical poetry is read, interpreted and sung. The Sangat has been going on for the last 30-40 years. Any person who chooses to visit the Sangat can freely and actively participate in the above mentioned activities.

 

Each Thursday there is a music and dance performance at the shrine of Baba Shah Jamal. The music usually starts around 11 O'clock upstairs with Gonga and Mitou Saeen and with the performance of Pappoo Saeen and Joora Saeen.

 

Sufi Night every Thursday at Peeru's Cafe at 9pm.

 

Ghazal Night every Friday at the theatre adjacent to the

Peeru's cafe

Jazz Night with Jazz Moods every Saturday at Peeru's Cafe at 9pm. Rock music sessions on alternative weekends where underground rock music band perform live.

 

issue
Fit to be a doctor?

Zara Ali read this news item in a newspaper in her house in Kallur Kot, district Bhakkar and her last hope to become a doctor faded. It read, "The Punjab Government may abolish the entrance test for admission to medical and dental colleges."

It was August 7, 2008, just before her intermediate result was about to be announced. This year, she was improving her score, hoping to get around 80 percent marks. Then, with an extensive preparation for the entry test, she might succeed in getting admission to a medical college. Students of backward areas often fail to get a high score, largely due to the poor educational facilities, making it particularly difficult for them to get admission to the medical institutions of Punjab.

In 1998, the then chief minister Shahbaz Sharif introduced the aptitude test for medical and engineering colleges in a bid to provide a level playing field to students coming from different boards of intermediate and secondary education. Punjab has eight educational boards, each having its own examination policy. Students coming from federal as well as Cambridge system also compete for the same institutions. With so much diversity, it is impossible to judge the true potential of the aspiring candidates.

Besides, our educational boards lack a transparent examination system, especially for the practical portion of Sciences (Physics, Chemistry and Biology). The government introduced the entry test to offset the effects of such anomalies.

On August 6, the 13-member committee constituted by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to assess the pros and cons of the entry test introduced in his first tenure, unanimously recommended that the test for admission to medical and dental colleges be abolished. The committee members discussed the issue at length this week and concluded that "the entrance test is a burden on students which must be done away with."

Faisal Kamran, a final year student at Lahore's Allama Iqbal Medical College, had scored 824 marks in intermediate from Sargodha Board and 975 marks in the entry test. According to Faisal, the entry test provides an equal opportunity to students of different boards. "Students of Sargodha Board get a low score as compared to Lahore or Dera Ghazi Khan Board due to the tough question papers and the strict marking criteria. If the opportunity of proving their merit in the entry test is also taken away from them, it would be most unfair."

Abdul Basit from district Bhakkar, who is in his third professional year at Allama Iqbal Medical College, says that if the government abolishes the entry test "you will only find students of Dera Ghazi Khan and Lahore Board in most medical colleges."

Muhammad Zaman, the top position holder of University of Health Sciences and a  final year student, is not satisfied with the present system of entry test. He says, "The twelve subjects of F.Sc. (intermediate) have twelve papers of three hour each. How can they be put at par with a two or three hour test? Students are not familiar with this type of evaluation so, at least, they should be prepared about this pattern during the course of their studies."

There is internationally an aptitude test like MCAT in USA, JIT, JEE and PMT in India but their evaluation is very thorough. "Moreover, they have the ability to pick up the eligible candidates for medical education," says Zaman. "You have to change the entire procedure and format of the entry test. Besides, a uniform intermediate examination system should be adopted to provide equal opportunities for students from different areas of Punjab."

Umer Hafeez scored 905 marks in the intermediate examination from Lahore Board but could not perform well in the entry test and got only 722 marks. Thus he missed a seat in the medical college and is now a student of D Pharmacy in the Punjab University. "We are not used to taking an exam like the entry test throughout our twelve years of academic career. A test where you are evaluated for all major subjects -- Physics Chemistry, Biology, English -- in two to three hours and then there is negative marking. What is the purpose of including English grammar portion in an aptitude test for medical or engineering colleges?" he asks. "Also, the result should be announced the same day to establish that the test is transparent and reliable."

Candidates who are preparing to appear in 2008 entry test have their own views. Fahad Zafar who scored 997 marks from Federal Board is in favour of entry test because "it's the only way to counter the use of unfair mean in exams." However, he wants improvement in the procedure and format of the present entry test.

Fatima Khan who secured 973 marks from Bahawalpur Board is in favour of the entry test to address problems like varied marking criteria, use of unfair means during and after examination, cramming etc.

Brig (Retd) Zulfiqar Ahmad Dhillon, minister for education in the previous cabinet of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif who initiated the entry test says abolishing this entry test would be a nightmare for intelligent and perceptive students. "We started this test to hunt true talent for the professional institutions of Pakistan. Our education system relies too much on cramming; we started this system to identify capable candidates for higher education and the results were tremendous."

"You can confirm that the students who came through the entry test performed better in medical colleges than those who did not. There was a series of discussion with different stakeholders, educational experts and civil society before we came to the conclusion to start the test. We also organised a seminar on this issue. I am still in favour of this test," he maintains.

Right from the beginning, the entry test went through a number of changes like the ratio of intermediate examination score and entry test marks. In the beginning it was 50 percent weightage for both, then 65 percent for intermediate and 35 percent for entry test. Lately, the authorities have changed it to 70:30.

After looking at the points of view of different stakeholders, it appears that the entry test system should not be abolished, without first removing the current lapses in our educational system.

 

Right career choices

  By Ayesha Khalid

Through proper career counseling we can have the best professionals in every field. Unfortunately, we have less career counseling centers than required in our city. The schools and universities which are offering career counseling to their students can be counted on finger tips.

It can be said that the institutes which are providing this facility, are no doubt generating the best workers in their respective fields. The more prominent among these institutions are LACAS, The City School, GCU, LUMS, PCBA and BNU.

To fulfil the purpose of education, by putting theory into practice, it is essential to provide career counseling to students. It gives them a direction.

Functions of career counseling include career exploration, career change, personal career development and other career related issues. Career counseling in educational institutes focus on guiding students to choose their major subjects, exposing them to practical opportunities, resume development, job search strategies and interviewing skills.

Tehniat Hashmi, a student at The City School Model Town Campus says, "At the counseling centre we have good counselors here who arrange sittings with us and with our parents, telling us which field best suits us, what would be the upcoming trend and what hurdles we may face in getting jobs and then train us accordingly. They leave the decision to the students." Talking about its importance Mehrunisa Salim says, "Every institution should have its own counselors if we want to improve the standard of our education system."

Among the important decisions is the choice of a major subject. A good decision can ensure satisfaction and pleasure, leading to a higher degree of success. Rehan says, "Good counseling of students has great impact on their life. One wrong decision and you are finished."

Many factors are involved in making the best possible educational and career decisions. The most vital of these factors involve picking a career that match the natural talents and personality of the students. Based on its deep influence, selection of major subject is a decision that should not be made in haste. It is a time-demanding task and requires researching of options in a variety of fields. Various considerations have to be made while making the choice. Students must consider their interests and motivations while analysing the challenges. The choice of subject should reflect their values. All the while, goals set by students should be realistic and attainable. All this can be made easy if an institution provides career counseling at its premises. Kulsoom of The City School Model Town Campus says, "I was about to chose business but my counselor at the school advised me to take science. I valued his decision and now I am quite satisfied with my studies. I got 3As in O'Levels.

Usually, counseling centers at universities have been found to be more active but Aman Khan of The City School Model Town Campus says, "It's not like that. There are only few students who don't consider it useful. We all are well aware of its importance and those who are not, will soon become aware of it."

On the contrary, the Principal, Mrs. Uzma Sayed says, "The ratio of the students who willingly come for counseling is 50% and this is because of different reasons. Some are quite shy and some consider themselves smart and intelligent enough and think they need no advice." She also adds, "the students below 15 years of age usually follow our advice more often. The shy ones need to be treated with more love and care so that they open up," says Uzma.

"The feedback from parents is impressive. Two experts go from campus to campus and meet different children, discuss their problems, and then try to find their solutions," she goes on to say.

Choosing a direction in life is difficult for most people. Upon inquisition, it can be known that even an intelligent educated group of people would exclaim the choice of their career to be coincidental. If not, then it would be an outcome of peer pressure, or the choice of parents. Furthermore, popular careers such as medical and engineering also overshadow the personal choice of students in choosing their desired subject and its field of application.

Money has also been a driving factor into certain professions such as IT and business administration. Abu Bakar of PCBA says, "Career counseling's most important function is that it provides data about future scope in different fields from which we get to know at what pace our economy is going and what are the current trends."

An ill-fitting career can be contributing factor to stress and depression, generating problems in other areas of life. Moreover it has a profoundly negative effect on self-esteem. Recent studies have directly linked workplace stress with a higher incidence of colds, which points to a compromised immune system. Alarmingly, such a deep-rooted distress may even cause the shortening of life span.

However, success in a particular field can no longer be verified upon the limelight or its material wealth. Successful careers are now measured in terms of the joy that an individual may obtain from each working day. Hence successful professionals choose a career, which they are enthusiastic about, a career that can explore and express their talents. The pleasure obtained, acts as a motivating force and ensures an ever-improving output. All the while, the success becomes a source of pride for such professionals.

Aqsa Salim of PCBA says, "Here in Pakistan parents usually force their children to go in specific fields. This is really something which should not be done at all."

College counseling should enable the students to view outlines of common career areas, typical employers and strategies designed to maximise career opportunities. The counseling office should should guide them in researching the job market for the majors they are interested in. All this is being done at PCBA, says Anum Waqas. "We are advised here how we can improve our career, build upon it and get opportunities from different organisations."

The consultant at PCBA, Fakhar Abbas says, "We suggest two options -- to go for higher studies or take a job. We support in both. We provide students with better job opportunities."

At Kinnaird College -- a big name in its field, a bundle of students there rightly say that they have a counseling centre which is being run by psychology teachers but they don't feel the centre is up to the mark as they have more hopes from it but a psychology teacher, Mrs. Gohar completely contradicts this and says, "We have more than 3000 girls here and if few of them say so it doesn't mean that they are right, we have assigned duties to our psychology teachers to guide the students whenever the need arises. Sometimes we get to know about the problems of students from our council members and without killing any time we always help them, so its not like that."

All we need is better facilities to students in the form of best counselors in every institute of Pakistan so as to provide the best workforce in the respective fields and help this country progress.

 

 

 

 

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