‘Education department may default on salaries if Centre does not release funds’

A total of 795 students were awarded degrees at Sindh University's convocation

Our Correspondents March 10, 2019

HYDERABAD: The Sindh education department is likely to default on the payment of salaries to its staff for the month of April if the federal government does not release the funds under the National Finance Commission Award. Sindh Education Minister Syed Sardar Ali Shah said this while addressing the Sindh University's convocation and talking to the media in Jamshoro district on Saturday.

On the occasion, 795 graduates including 46 Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and 113 Master of Philosophy (MPhil) scholars were conferred the degrees. The minister decorated the best graduates with 16 gold and 88 silver medals.

"The education department has the highest number of employees among the provincial government's departments. The federal government is not providing Sindh's due funds owing to which it seems the province may not pay the salaries of April," Shah said.

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"[Prime minister] Imran Khan has set the trend that the small provinces won't be given their due funds. They [PTI government] are unwilling to release funds which are the right of the province under the National Finance Commission Award." He maintained that the federal government has been releasing Rs20 billion to Rs25b per month against the monthly allocation of Rs55b.

Besides, the payment of employees' salaries, the provincial government's plan to curb copy culture in board exams is also set to suffer due to the financial constraints. The minister said that the government had earlier planned to conduct the upcoming Secondary School Certificate and Higher Secondary Certificate exams in the open grounds. He added that implementation was not possible without funds which were required for the furniture, CCTV cameras and security.

The minister's speech was interrupted by clamour for the removal of Bachelor of Education (BEd) and Master of Education (MEd) qualification for the upcoming recruitment of the teachers for the government schools. Responding to the demand, Shah said [he is trying to waive the condition] for the appointments which will be processed through the Sindh Public Service Commission.

He said that new teachers will not be transferred from their initial place of posting for three to five years. Shah denied that a shortage of teachers in the government schools and colleges existed in the province. Rather, he deplored, that the teachers posted in the urban areas are reluctant to teach in the rural schools.

According to him, the situation has resulted in an imbalance with the cities reporting surplus teachers and the rural towns and villages the shortfall.

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However, he said that a committee has been formed to address the imbalance and expressed hope that the rural shortfall will be reduced after the summer vacations. Congratulating the students who received the degrees, the minister asked them to earn respect and recognition for their degrees. "If a graduate with a master's degree gets the job of a peon, he knows that he has only obtained a degree, but not acquired education."

The Vice Chancellor Dr Fateh Muhammad Burfat requested the minister to allocate funds for payment of MPhil and PhD allowance to the SU's faculty. The VC of Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences Prof Dr Bikharam Devrajani, VC Mehran University of Engineering and Technology Prof Dr Muhammad Aslam Uqaili, DIG Hyderabad Naeem Ahmed Shaikh and other officials attended the event.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 10th, 2019.


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