Teach­ers Day

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE -

Oc­to­ber 5 is cel­e­brated as World Teach­ers Day. Held an­nu­ally since 1994, the Day marks the an­niver­sary of the adop­tion of the 1966 ILO/ Un­esco rec­om­men­da­tion con­cern­ing the sta­tus of teach­ers. This rec­om­men­da­tion sets bench­marks re­gard­ing the rights and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of teach­ers and stan­dards for their ini­tial prepa­ra­tion and fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion, re­cruit­ment, em­ploy­ment, and teach­ing and learn­ing con­di­tions. Ev­ery year, Pak­istan also cel­e­brates World Teach­ers Day. Events are held, teach­ers are re­mem­bered for their con­tri­bu­tion to so­ci­ety. Lots of prom­ises are made. Teach­ing is one of the most re­spected pro­fes­sions in the coun­try to­day. Iron­i­cally, It is also pos­si­bly one of the most poorly- paid pro­fes­sions.

Pre­vi­ously, most teach­ers were gov­ern­ment ser­vants. But with the grad­ual pri­vati­sa­tion of the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor, this no longer holds true. There are more pri­vate sec­tor teach­ers than there are pub­lic sec­tor ones.Both sec­tors have their is­sues. Teach­ers in the pub­lic sec­tor com­plain of lack of merit in their pro­mo­tions, the ab­sence of a clear ca­reer path as well as poor work­ing con­di­tions. Many teach­ers who work in the gov­ern­ment do not get paid on time, are de­prived of ba­sic fa­cil­i­ties and have no in­cen­tive to do bet­ter. The work­ing con­di­tions of most schools are poor. In­fra­struc­ture is crum­bling. There is theft and mis­use of what­ever gov­ern­ment fa­cil­i­ties are avail­able. Those who try and do bet­ter are pushed down.

The re­cruit­ment of teach­ers it­self is a ques­tion­able ex­er­cise. Teach­ers are hired by clear­ing a 33 per cent pass mark and in most in­stances have to pay their way to be se­lected. Hun­dreds of teach­ers who were hired by pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ments have seen their em­ploy­ment held up and salaries stopped.It is a thank­less job as there is no se­cu­rity pro­vided to teach­ers ei­ther. In cities and vil­lages, stu­dents are se­lected with­out merit and in many in­stances teach­ers are pushed into pass­ing them ir­re­spec­tive of their per­for­mance.In Pak­istan, we also have the sys­tem of ghost teach­ers, whereby the teach­ers ex­ist in the books only. Hun­dreds of schools are sup­posed to be func­tion­ing in dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try es­pe­cially in the ru­ral ar­eas, but in prac­tice these school build­ings have been con­verted into per­sonal hous­ing or cat­tle sheds for pow­er­ful or in­flu­en­tial peo­ple of the area. Even in towns and cities, gov­ern­ment schools are turned into mar­riage halls in the even­ing with the school ad­min­is­tra­tion mak­ing mil­lions from this prac­tice. Teach­ers are told to stay home and col­lect a por­tion of their salaries.

If the pub­lic sec­tor is bad, the pri­vate sec­tor is worse. It has ex­panded rapidly over the past three decades and­has over­taken the gov­ern­ment in terms of en­rol­ments. Now all par­ents want their chil­dren to go to an English- medium school ir­re­spec­tive of the fact that this school may be housed in a cramped bun­ga­low with FA- pass fac­ulty teach­ing. Teach­ers in such pri­vate sec­tor chains are paid bare min­i­mum salaries and de­duc­tions are made for cour­ses they have been en­rolled in, re­gard­less of whether they want to do them or not. The qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion in many of these schools is very poor - the bot­tom line be­ing mak­ing money. The level of ex­ploita­tion in pri­vate schools is un­prece­dented. We need to im­prove the work­ing con­di­tions of teach­ers dras­ti­cally. Not only should their salaries be set much higher but there should be stan­dard­i­s­a­tion of work pay and al­lowances for both the pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tor. There is a lot of money in ed­u­ca­tion and the sec­tor can at­tract com­pe­tent peo­ple if we pay well and in­tro­duce a sys­tem which re­wards those who de­serve it.

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