‘Political interference in education dept must end’

Edu minister says under pressure to appoint, transfer teachers on influentials' whims


Hafeez Tunio September 14, 2021
Classes for ninth and tenth grades have been suspended at the government school in Salazai. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI:

There is immense pressure on the education department by influentials who wish to have postings and transfers done on their choice, said Sindh Education Minister Syed Sardar Shah on Monday.

Addressing the Sindh Assembly, he appealed to lawmakers and other influential people in his party to refrain from pushing their favourites into the education department and insist on transfers of teachers.

“There is a severe shortage of lecturers at government colleges in the rural areas of Sindh. But most of the assembly members also approach me to transfer college teachers from rural to urban areas. For God’s sake, please don’t pressurise me for transfers and postings,” said the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) minister, responding to a question about the college education department.

In response to another query during the question and answer session, the education minister termed the Single National Curriculum pushed by the federal government equivalent to a ‘curriculum martial law’.

“There is no constitutional binding on provincial governments to implement the SNC. It is the issue of a political party’s manifesto,” said Shah, expressing concern over the SNC while responding to a query during the question-answer session at the Sindh Assembly on Monday. Under it, students are being taught about the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), its performance and its policies, added the education minister.

Shah said that Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood has also conceded that the SNC was finalised in haste.

Thus far, only Punjab has agreed to fully implement the SNC while the other provinces are to develop it according to their local policies. Sindh has expressed severe reservations over the PTI-led federal government’s move.

Read More: Higher Education in peril

One-room schools

Meanwhile, during the session, Opposition Leader Haleem Adil Sheikh.

drew the education minister’s attention towards 10,000 schools in Sindh, which according to him will be shut in the coming days.

“Can you confirm that these schools are being closed? Why have you opened them if the government tends to shut the schools,” asked the PTI lawmaker, adding that after the closure of schools the buildings are to be converted into autaq [sitting areas for guests] for influential persons.

At this, Shah said that many one-room schools were built in Sindh during former military dictator General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf’s government to appease some influential persons. He cited the example of a village in former chief minister Arbab Rahim’s area, where 60 schools were sanctioned in just one village, as evidence.

“How is it possible to create a conducive environment and teach five classes in a one-room school?” asked Shah. “It was all done to appoint people and provide them buildings for residential purposes,” he claimed, adding that around 10,000 schools have been non-viable or inactive in the province. These non-functional schools will be closed in different phases, he added.

Briefing the house on the total number of government schools in the province, Shah said there were around 47, 000 schools in Sindh, out of which 39,000 were primary schools and around 4,000 were secondary schools.

“We are examining the overall situation. Those schools that are lying non-functional because of lack of students will be handed over to the health department.”

When asked about the total number of colleges in the province, the minister was of the view that the number of colleges was much lower than the actual requirement. “We have so far 335 colleges in the province and we are planning to enhance this number.”

Published in The Express Tribune, September 14th, 2021.

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