KARACHI: The harrowing standards of education in Sindh further slumped as a large fraction of candidates failed to make the cut in the junior-level teacher's test, conducted by the Sukkur Institute of Business Administration, despite the lowering of cut-off percentage from 60% to 50%. As a result, making appointments on all 6,000 vacancies for junior elementary school teachers (JEST) and 1,190 vacancies for early childhood teachers (ECT) remains a tall order for the government.
Aptitude tests for the appointment of JESTs and ECTs were conducted between November 11 and 28 last year. A total of 36,797 candidates appeared in the test for JESTs and only 1,950 managed to pass it. Similarly, of the 16,098 candidates who appeared in the test for ECTs, only 287 were able to clear the exam.
With just a small percentage of candidates meeting the cut-off, appointments on only 32% of the vacant post for JESTs could have been made. However, as nearly 400 candidates appeared in tests for both, JESTs and ECTs, after the selection of some of them on the post for ECTs, this percentage would have reduced further to approximately 25%. In case of the appointments of ECTs, only 24% of the 1,190 vacancies could have been filled.
In light of this assessment, the provincial education minister had sent a summary to Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, requesting that the cut-off for the aptitude test be reduced from 60% to 50% or else the schools would remain non-functional due to the shortage of teachers. Hence, the results were reassessed on the basis of the reduced cut-off.
After the reassessment, appointments are now made possible on 57% of the posts for JESTs and 75% of the posts for ECTs.
While reducing the cut-off did lead to the appointment of a greater number of teachers, many posts of junior teachers are still lying vacant.
Meanwhile, Sindh Education Minister Sardar Shah announced that conditional offer letters for successful candidates would be issued soon. He ordered the district education officers and directors to issue offer letters to candidates who met the 50% cut-off in the aptitude test and questioned them on reasons for the delay in the appointments of teachers.
Responding to Shah's enquiry, district education officers informed him that the degrees of selected candidates were yet to be verified by the relevant universities. They maintained that appointments could be confirmed only after the degrees are verified and returned by the universities.
However, Shah said that the completion of the verification process would take too long and asked the officials to make appointments on posts of JESTs and ECTs without any further delay.
The teachers should be issued offer letters, subject to verification by the relevant universities, he said, adding that the letters should include a clause stating that the appointment is conditional to verification of degrees and certificates by the universities.
Shah further said, in case an individual's degree or domicile is not verified, his or her offer letter would be invalidated. The education minister also clarified that the appointed individuals would be posted in union councils and divisions, as decided by the education department.
He also made it clear that candidates, who obtained more than 50% marks in the aptitude test, held in November 2019, would be appointed on posts laid vacant as a result of resignation, death or retirement of the former employees, after 2018.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2019.