ISLAMABAD: A summary to set up the maiden food authority in the capital is expected to be sent to the cabinet within 'days' after the food ministry sent its comments, a Senate panel was told on Thursday.
This was disclosed by representatives of the Ministry of Interior during a meeting of the Senate Functional Committee on Government Assurances which met at the Parliament House on Thursday with Senator Agha Shahzaib Durrani in the chair.
The meeting was told that the Ministry of National Food Security had sent its comments on setting up a food authority and the summary for the body will be dispatched to the federal cabinet in the coming days for its approval.
Medical university land
The committee was briefed on the process of allocating land for the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Medical University (SZABMU) in Islamabad.
Last month, President Mamnoon Hussain signed a bill into law which separated SZABMU from its teaching hospital, the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims). The hospital had been given under the administrative control of the varsity in 2013 but the hospital had since been plagued with a host of issues and staffers had gone on multiple strikes demanding its separation.
With the two entities separated, SZABMU is in need of land to set up its campus.
Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) secretary said that at least 100 acres of land was required to build a campus for the university. However, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) only has 15 acres of land available. The National Institute of Health (NIH), the secretary said, has 500 acres of land without any construction on it.
It was suggested that the required land can be provided by the health institute.
The panel asked the NIH to respond to the ministry regarding a proposal to provide land for SZABMU and that the committee will be given a monthly compliance report on the progress of allotting land.
The panel also took up the issue of plagiarism in the higher education sector.
It reviewed assurances provided by the Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training on measures taken by the government to eradicate the menace of plagiarism.
Representatives of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) told the meeting that a similarity index of 19 per cent is allowed in one research but the percentage of this index is down to five per cent from a single source.
The commission said that all universities in the country have been provided access to ‘Turnitin’, the best possible plagiarism checking software available.
Moreover, they said that the HEC has a monitoring mechanism in place apart from creating a system of internal checks within universities.
In this regards, the panel was told that HEC has finalised 171 plagiarism complaints since 2007 with 59 still pending. The committee observed that the software leaves room for human error and that it does not address many plagiarism concerns.
While conceding that the software has its limitations, HEC officials reiterated that it was the best tool available and is employed by as many as 15,000 universities in 20 countries.
On the matter of highlighting the harmony, information and respect of national holidays in federal government educational institutions, the committee was told that the days are already being observed in 424 government schools and colleges prior to the day or after the day through seminars, workshops, assemblies, tours and other events.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 2nd, 2018.
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