No less than 2,026 sanctioned teaching posts are vacant in educational institutes in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and Frontier Regions (FR), despite efforts to improve the state of education in the region.
According to the Annual Statistics Report of Government Educational Institutes 2012-2013 released by FATA Secretariat Directorate of Education, 22,361 teachers’ positions had been sanctioned by the government. These include 15,033 posts for men and 7,328 for women. Of these, 20,335 are currently filled.
According to the report, there are vacant posts in each sector of the education system with a need for male and female teachers in all schools and colleges across the tribal belt.
A total deficit of 1,144 male and 882 female teachers plagues Fata and Frontier Regions collectively.
Between the lines
While the report only discusses the problems in black and white, residents of various agencies told The Express Tribune about issues they face which have not been quantified on paper.
It was learnt a substantial number of teachers at schools and colleges in the tribal belt were not actually fulfilling their job requirements but continue to collect their cheques from the government.
Tribesmen complained their children’s teachers would not show up regularly or were essentially employees present “only on paper”.
Anwarullah Khan, an elder from Mohmand Agency, complained a large number of teachers were holding down posts at two different organisations at the same time, which, he added, implied no one was keeping a check on the system. There are some who are actually working in other countries, have not attended a single class in the entire academic year but are still being paid by the state, maintained Khan. The concerned elder asked the government to take action against these teachers and terminate them from their positions.
Schools and colleges in Khyber Agency seem to face a similar dilemma. Zahir Shah Afridi, an elder from the agency, narrated problems comparable to Khan’s. Afridi knew of teachers who were actually working as journalists or with non-governmental organisations and would not show up to class. He pointed out the real loss was the students’ valuable time wasted.
DESIGN: SAMRA AAMIR
Both Khan and Afridi echoed the same refrain – have a system to monitor teachers and fire those who are actually working elsewhere while on the government dole.
When The Express Tribune approached Principal Secretary of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Governor, Abid Majeed, he was cognizant of the vacant positions. He stated new teachers were going to be recruited on the empty posts. Majeed pointed out K-P Governor Shaukatullah Khan has directed FATA Secretariat Directorate of Education to hire both male and female teachers to fill the gap.
According to Majeed, there is a significant push to standardise the quality of teacher training. And to this end, a separate directorate of curriculum and teacher’s education has been recently constituted. Addressing the problem of teacher absenteeism, the principal secretary shared a digital system would be introduced soon, by which each teacher will have to log their attendance at the school daily. Majeed also spoke of a recent Directorate of Education initiative to introduce accountability in schools in Fata and the FRs. The directorate dispatched letters to schools based on their cumulative performances in the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examinations.
School principals whose institutes received perfect scores were given letters of appreciation, while heads of institutes which did not achieve the mark of excellence were sent advisory notes. Finally headmasters of schools which received less than 50% results in the SSC were sent transfer letters.
The letters were sent in an attempt to make schools more accountable of their results, and the process would soon be extended to subject-wise performance as well.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2013.