No full stops for this English teacher

Ameer Muhammad Khan dreaded the day of his retirement

Photo: Banaras Khan/qaiser Butt December 12, 2014


As his last day drew closer in 2006, Ameer Muhammad Khan, who had taught for 34 years, wondered how he would retire.

“Mentally, it was a disturbing moment when September 23 came,” he says, referring to the exact date. “I was not worried about losing my job but that the course was incomplete.” He was, after all, half-way through a term.

The solution was simple. He decided to continue teaching without pay till he wrapped up the syllabus. But when December rolled around and his class had ended, he still couldn’t bring himself to go home. “I again offered my service as a volunteer teacher to the school administration, which they accepted,” he says. “I told them that I wanted to serve here till I died.” Ameer gives the same advice to his fellow pensioners. “I always asked retired teachers at all levels to rejoin their profession as volunteers instead of wasting their time at home,” he says, adding that the government should consider making this officially possible as well.

And so, even at 77 years of age, Ameer Muhammad Khan is a retired English teacher who can still be seen inside classrooms at the same government high school in Pishin where he worked as vice-principal until his tenure ended. He even spends time coaching junior teachers, who benefit from his expertise free of charge.

“I realised that my mission was still half-finished when I retired after 34 years in different schools,” he tells The Express Tribune.

This mission started as a junior teacher at Kotwal Middle School, Quetta in 1972 after Ameer Muhammad graduated from Punjab University. He was promoted when all teachers of Punjabi origin serving in Balochistan were repatriated at the time. “It was a great loss to the people of Balochistan,” Ameer Muhammad recalls. Given the ensuing shortage of teachers, he was promoted as headmaster soon after.

At one point the education department sent him for a BEd degree to qualify him as a senior English teacher at Central High School, Joint Road in Quetta where he worked for 14 years, also teaching Pakistan Studies and Math to grades 9 and 10.

An MA in Economics at the University of Balochistan helped pave the way for a promotion to grade 18 (22 being the highest). He was posted as a deputy education officer in Kohlu for a few months and also taught at Government Alizai High School of Pishin before being posted to the government model high school in the same district, where he retired.

While Ameer Muhammad is not short on commitment, as his track record demonstrates, he is worried about his students getting sidetracked. “Students abandoning their education is a major problem in small towns but it is my hobby to bring them back to school,” he says. He doesn’t always win them over, however. Sometimes it is painful to watch fathers forcibly take their sons to Karachi to find work. “Poor people are keen to educate their kids but they can’t afford it,” he admits.

The government has not recognized his services so far but the Balochistan education department and non-profits regularly honour him as a chief guest at events. “I am glad that my colleagues eulogise my services and remember me at Salam Teacher day ceremonies in Quetta and Pishin every year,” he says. “Frankly speaking, I am not keen to be honoured with government awards or medals because the appreciation of the people and my colleagues is much more important.” For the teacher who refused to retire, perhaps the lesson is that we don’t need to ever stop giving back to society.

With writing by Saim Saeed in Karachi

Published in The Express Tribune, December 12th, 2014.


Fahimullah. | 9 years ago | Reply

Mr. Ameer Muhammad Khan would have been elevated to 'Knighthood' had he been in a society governed by 'meritocrats'. But alas it's a country where the case is vice-versa and where teacher's role is considered confined to school-walls. The situation is further exacerbated by introduction of mushrooming private educational setups where teacher is strictly handed over the duty to appease students rather than to contribute for the society and nation.

Exalted writer: Hats off for acknowledging the deserved being!

Tassawor Ishaque | 9 years ago | Reply

Dear Sir Ameer Muhammad Khan,

I salute you and always pray for you.We need people like you. A lesson to learn for all of us. Regards

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