It is quite astonishing that teachers in Pakistan often remain engaged in non-academic activities, thereby badly impacting the studies at the schools; however those in power never paid any heed towards the very serious issue.
The teachers are often seen performing duties in emergency situation, enrolment drive, elections duties and census in Pakistan, but unfortunately they also are being deputed frequently to carry out dengue sprays.
However; now they are asked to perform duties in ‘Ramzan Bazaar’ and checking quality of flour as well, making them unable to give sufficient time to the students, which resultantly leaves negative impact on schools’ results.
Despite the fact that literacy rate drastically dropped in the country from 60 per cent to 58 per cent, there was a little for the government to learn.
Talking to Pakistan Today, Punjab Teacher Union Rawalpindi District President Shahid Mubarik said that the government wanted good result, but they did not let them do their primary duty.
He said that few days ago, the Rawalpindi DCO has issued a verbal order that teachers should go and check the quality of flour at the 40 flour mills being distributed by the Punjab government in Sasta Ramzan Bazaars in the district.
Shahid said that lot of teachers refused to perform the duty; however some showed willingness because of fear of possible reaction from the authority.
“It seems that the government does not have sufficient officials in health and food ministries; hence they sought services of teachers for dengue and checking flour quality,” Shahid added.
He said that majority of the teachers were already working as enumerators for the ongoing sixth national census, leaving behind very few teachers to conduct classes due to which one teacher had to take six classes a day.
He said that conducting census without teachers and army might be a Herculean job, but it did not mean that teachers should be deputed for all sorts of jobs.
“Punjab government makes it mandatory for teachers to increase 10 per cent increase in enrolment annually or else they would be fined,” he maintained.
He lamented that how it was possible for them when majority of the teachers were working as enumerators at the time of admission.
A senior official in Education Ministry preferred not to be named told Pakistan Today that undoubtedly it was a serious issue, but any attention was never paid to address the issue.
He said that teachers should concentrate on teaching only and should not be assigned any non-academic work, as engaging teachers to perform non-teaching activities affected their primary duty.
However, he said that unfortunately the government’s priorities in employing more teachers than other officials for the census, only because education was not the government’s priority.
When this scribe contacted, Faisal Bari, an education expert, he said that when you assigned some other responsibilities to teachers, they would remain absent from the classes, which was directly affecting the student as who would teach them, because there was already shortage of teaching staff.
“By keeping teachers absent from duties is tantamount to give a clear message to them that other duties are more important than teaching and education has no importance which is their real duty, so it is wrong,” he added.
In addition, Faisal said that sometime we assigned duties to teachers which were contrary to their status, which was also not fair, adding that teachers should be deputed for enrolment drive purposes; however unfortunately we assigned them all duties such as dengue spray, in all emergency situation and now they were doing duty in census across the country.
To a question, he said that the government should appoint and train other people who could do all these jobs instead.
He said that since elections were fast approaching; the government should recruit election officers directly instead of using teachers for the purpose.
“Teachers politicise with performing non-academic duties, which is not good, as teachers has no business to direct interact with any political party in school level,” he added.
He said that all these practice of using teachers for such non-academic duties should instantly be put on halt, as if all these are of so importance than the relevant departments should have to enhance their capacity and workforce.
However, he said that it is quite astonishing that instead of encouraging teachers and providing them incentives they are being used for non-academic duties despite the abysmal education situation.
Despite repeated phone calls and text messages Minister of State for Education and Professional Training Baligh-ur-Rehman could not be reached for his comments.
Punjab Education Minister Rana Mashhood also did not respond the repeated phone calls and text messages.