It is unfortunate that the government is fixated on statistics and not quality of education being imparted to students in the province, several public school teachers said at a seminar held on Sunday to celebrate International Literacy Day.
The seminar was held organised by the Kafka Welfare Organisation and Alif Ailaan at the Human Rights Commission Pakistan, Lahore. Salman Abid of the Strengthening Participatory Organisation, Abdul Sami Khan of the Society for Advancement of Education (SAHE), and Punjab Teacher Unions president Syed Sajjad Kazmi spoke at the event.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Umair Asif of Alif Ailaan said it was easy to blame teachers for everything wrong with the education system but Alif Ailaan’s study The Voice of Teachers had challenged the notion. He said the study was based on an extensive nationwide survey of over 1,250 teachers and heads of more than 600 public and private primary, elementary and high schools in urban and rural areas across the country.
Other speakers suggested that the government could introduce incentives and appreciation awards for teachers to improve the quality of education.
Salman Abid said it was important to attract qualified individuals to the teaching profession. He said at most public schools, teachers were provided shoddy facilities and were expected to provide quality teaching.
Abid said the government often transferred the education budget to other projects. “This reflects the government’s priorities.”
He said, “We cannot blame the teachers…all stakeholders need to take the responsibility for flaws in the education system.”
Asif said the main hurdles faced by teachers included lack of training, low parental interest, poor nutrition, poverty, work overload, shortage of government teachers, non-teaching duties, lack of facilities, absenteeism, low status in society, less motivation factors, transfers away from homes and language barriers.
The study reveals that in the Punjab, almost 72 per cent of posts for school teachers are vacant. It says there are some schools in the province that only have one teacher. Private and public school teachers, on average, have to give 36 lectures a week and they don’t get enough time to prepare for them. The survey says that 77 per cent public and private school teachers had said learning equipment was imperative to provide quality education. More than one-third of public school teachers said in the survey that water and toilet facilities were the most important facilities that were missing in their schools. On average, a teacher spent 50 days on non-teaching duties per annum in the Punjab. Most of their time (19 per cent) was spent on enrolment drives.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 21st, 2015.
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