Non-teaching duties and drop-outs

saeed wazir1Teachers are the most important school-based determinant of students’ academic success. However,teachers in Pakistan perform multiple duties in his lifetime apart from teaching. There are two types of non-teaching duties:govt imposed, and arbitrary. The first include polio drives, exams and centralized marking,elections,census,relief activities in disasters ,inspections of schools with executives ,etc.The second comprise side  business ventures, teachers unions, school  administrative duties assigned by heads, and embarking on Tableeghi trips. This absenteeism exercises harmful impact on students’ performance and paves the way for increased drop outs. Sometimes, job dissatisfaction, teacher burnout, and a decrease in teacher morale also play negative role.

According to ALIF AILAAN  report 2015 , the ratio of out of school children is as follows:Baluchistan 70%; Sindh 56%;Punjab 44%;KP 36%;Fata 60%;and GB and Kashmir each 50%.Regretfully, enrollment at primary level drops from 70% to 47 % at middle, and 31% at high levels. Paradoxically, out of total 50.8m children, 26.8m are in schools and 24.0m are out of school. Poverty,gender disparity,being a minority,poor infrastructure, conflicts, social norms,migration,high fees school distance,school violence,refugee status,early marriages,late entry,poor funding,child labour, language challenge,poor infrastructure.disability,high fees,no teachers,etc. are potent agents of this conundrum.

The Constitution of Pakistan states in article 25(A)- Right to education—The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manner as may be determined by law.Despite this sacrosanct,inalienable injunction,the state has badly failed on this front.“What’s worse, the proportion of out-of-school children (OOSC) increases as the level of education rises so that by the higher-secondary level almost 85% are not in school, says a new report by Alif Ailaan.

Pakistan is ranked second largest country having out of school children after Nigeria. Pakistan also has the highest number of illiterate adults in the world, after India and China.

This phenomenon gives way to increased enrolment in madressahs and low quality private schools which churn out  thousands of students unable to compete in the already overcrowded job market. They are radicalized and brainwashed by extremist outfits for furthering their morbid religiosity and sectarian underpinnings. Street crimes,brawl,in-fighting within families ,and general wave of worsening insecurity are the main manifestation of disaffected children. These impressionable, delicate minds can be easily trapped dangerously.

Pragmatically,urgent,down to earth steps need to be taken on war footing so as to integrate out of school children. Alternative education must be replicated in Pakistan too. A number of studies have employed bridging courses or reintegration programmes in an attempt to incorporate out-of-school children back into school. Through this, child laborers and homeless children can be   mainstreamed into the formal education system via informal schooling. Classes need to be held after school hours in the afternoon, to enable children to work in the mornings and evenings and attend educational activities as well. This must entail hands- on,involved,steady approaches to make learning activities interesting, enjoyable.

Constant rebates and incentives is another strategy. Complete fee abolishment and capitation grant can lead to significant increase in enrollment, particularly in regions with extremely low enrollment trends like southern Punjab,Baluchistan and FATA.This will also  retain most of these children in school. The benefits included a small financial stipend, a snack, biannual de-worming treatment and an annual eye examination.

Community awareness programmes targeting socio-cultural barriers must focus on increasing parental interest in their children’s education, along with strategies targeting negative attitudes towards disabilities. Strategies in this plan included integrating children with non-severe physical and mental disabilities into mainstream schools, along with sensitization programmes on disability issues and special educational needs. Govt ,media and NGOs must use public awareness campaigns to highlight the importance of education and encourage families to send their children to school.Religious figures must be involved across the board.

Teacher education must comprise pre-serve and in-service training, speech and debate skills and intense student interaction. This will inspire students and result in cultural homophile and greater empathy.Those teachers who resist reforms and are hell bent on non-teaching duties had better award golden handshake.

Independent monitoring units must established on the pattern of KP to exercise checks on teachers and students’ performance and retention be linked to their ACR and promotion. They deliver objective information on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis to donors, civil society, parents and other stakeholder for reviewing the performance of government and its officials, increase public awareness of the status of school facilities and infrastructure and the level of education service delivery in the province, district and the school level; and, provide access to information on key indicators to increase social accountability.

Finally, Tableeghi Jamaat’s central leadership must crystal clearly announce Fatwa that govt official must not persue it at the expense of their duties.Teachers, from primary to tertiary,is the main recruiting lifeline.They go on Friday-night weekly,3-day monthly,40-day annually,and yearly once in decade on  proselytizing trips during sessions and with full pay on the self-deluding claim that their relevant heads permit them.Are rights of Allah more important or rights of people?Are heads of institutions that much legally authoritative to facility such longer leave?The answer is in negative.Ultimately,logic dictates that teachers must utilize vacations for this purpose

The distorted version of Islam taught to children contributes to intolerance and sectarian tensions. Pragmatically, provincial governments and civil society should work collectively to reinvent ‘a narrative for Pakistan’. Only then will education help children become informed citizens, who reject the lure of ‘kill and be killed’ and support peace within the country and outside.

Humanities can go a long way in promoting plurality and coexistence. Therefore, integrating science and the arts is the need of the hour. The state, donor agencies and civil society should prioritise initiatives that allow regular interaction and dialogue among students of elite and public schools and madressahs. Activities can include sports, community services, debate competitions and the like. Both the public and private sectors should put in synchronised and synergised efforts in a bid to stymie militarisation of a bulge of these children.

It’s time to get out of the deeper slumber of criminal negligence and invest in this untapped human gold for more bright future.

Writer: Saeed Ullah Khan Wazir

The writer is a CSS aspirant,  social democrat and human rights activist. He can be reached at

saeedwazir41@gmail.com 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED WITH THE PASHTUN TIMES

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