The Capital Development Authority has decided to celebrate the Pride of Performance awarded by the government to one of its employees — but in a convoluted manner.
Mohammad Ayub — a 57-year-old CDA firefighter by day and charity school teacher and administrator by evening, is something of a local hero and the recipient of a Pride of Performance award this year for his contributions to the field of education.
The Pride of Performance award is conferred by the government of Pakistan to civilians in recognition of distinguished meritorious work in different fields.
Ayub has been an employee of the CDA Fire and Rescue Department since 1976, and for the past 28 years, he has spent his free time and weekends running a free school in the evening, teaching children from downtrodden families including street children. The school has no formal building and operates under trees in a park on Hill Road in Sector F-6/3, with teaching supplies paid for by ‘Master’ Ayub and a few philanthropists.
The CDA — an autonomous organisation with an annual budget of nearly Rs50 billion — has sought the consent of staffers of grade 16 and above to share Rs100 each from their salaries to pay Ayub a bonus in recognition of his achievement.
If everyone consents, the total amount would be just over Rs 150,000.
Some CDA officers were befuddled by the request, in context of “unnecessary” CDA spending which could be put to better use by assisting people such as Ayub.
The consent letter was issued on Friday, the same day that the CDA held Hajj balloting — wherein 40 employees would perform Hajj later this year on the authority’s expense.
The exercise, will cost Rs16 million, and will be financed with taxpayer money. The amount could easily finance a solid-structure school building with multiple classrooms and basic facilities, sources said.
“Millions of rupees will be spent to satisfy individuals’ religious sentiments by sending them on Hajj on the authority’s expense, but when it comes to acknowledge the honorable social service rendered by an employee, the management is begging officers for a petty Rs 100,” commented a senior officer.
He suggested a number of means to facilitate Ayub and his cause. “For the past three decades he has been holding classes under the open sky. The CDA can help him by building one or two rooms on CDA land in the area so that he can continue his work without any interruption,” he suggested, referring to attendance issues the school faces due to rain flooding the ‘classroom’.
Talking to The Express Tribune, a joyful Master Ayub said he had never expected that simply by following “his calling” to educate poor children would earn him recognition at the highest level.
On the current status of his school, he said the number of students varies between 180 and 220 on any given day. Besides Ayub, four of his former students who managed to pass matriculation exams are volunteering as teachers at the school.
“Today, I am in a position to arrange books and other study material for students with the help of citizens who put some money in a box I place by the sidewalk next to school,” Ayub said.
Beyond the box, he said he has never asked or begged anyone to help him operate or finance the school. He said the Pride of Performance had given him new energy and resolve to continue running the school till his last breath.
He was unaware of the consent letter issued by the CDA management.
CDA Administration Member Amir Ali Ahmed said he was unaware of the exact details of the issue. “Let me check. The CDA management will definitely come up with something substantial to further the noble cause pursued by Master Ayub,” Ahmad assured.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2015.