PESHAWAR: As the government expedites efforts to tighten its grip over public sector educational institutions, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s private varsities and colleges are being given a free rein to usurp employee rights and violate set regulations.
A vast majority of the province’s private higher educational institutions are affiliated with the University of Peshawar. According to documents available with The Express Tribune, every institution is required to maintain a 60-40 ratio of regular and visiting staffers. However, a good number of these colleges and universities enlist ghost staffers in their prospectuses and instead hire underpaid temporary teachers. Their books tell tales of attractive salary packages but in reality the situation is alarming.
A high ranking official from UoP said affiliated institutions have thousands of students enrolled in their BBA, MBA, MPA, BCom, MCom, BEd and Masters in Public Health programmes. “Administrators and owners of institutes have hired temporary and visiting staff and do not pay them salaries as per rules and regulations,” he said.
The official added as many as 57 institutions are registered with the Higher Education Regulatory Authority (HERA) that directly oversees their administrative affairs, in the provincial capital alone. He said it is fundamentally HERA’s responsibility to ensure rules are being followed.
Even permanent staff are being deprived their rights. According to the official, as per rules, salaries of permanent lecturers cannot be less than Rs22,000. “There is a difference of at least Rs7,000 between the declared and actual monthly wages of instructors who teach courses totalling to at least 56 credit hours.”
Talking to The Express Tribune, an instructor said even the grading process is carried out without the consent of teachers concerned.
“Marks are deliberately increased to ensure students graduate with decent GPAs,” he said.
When approached for a comment, NCS Education System Peshawar Coordinator Bilal Barkatullah denied the allegations and said he cannot speak for other institutions but NCS follows the guidelines of UoP and HERA.
Silence of the lambs
Talking to The Express Tribune, HERA Chairman Ahmad Khan said as many as 300 private educational institutions from across the province are registered with the authority.
Expressing his helplessness, he said a good number of institutes violate rules but their staffers never file any complaints. “We have punished several of them for violating regulations,” he said. “Universities are relatively well-managed and the faculty there are handed handsome pay cheques. The problem lies with colleges,” he said. “On paper the salaries of college teachers range from Rs25,000 to Rs30,000 but in reality hardly anyone is paid over Rs15,000,” he said.
The authority chairman said an enquiry can only be initiated when someone files a complaint and material evidence is at hand. He urged teachers to stand up for their rights and inform authorities about such violations.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 4th, 2015.