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SPLA seeks rise in educational budget

Hyderabad, June 20, 2008: The Sindh Professors and Lecturers Association on Thursday demanded raise to four per cent of GDP in educational budget, formulation of a scientific and secular education policy with consultation of academics and teachers, change in outdated syllabus and mother tongue as medium of instruction.

Unfolding SPLA's 34-point charter of demands, the association's secretary Prof Liaquat Aziz told journalists at Sachal Sarmast Arts and Commerce College that the ban imposed on teachers' bodies by the former Chief Minister Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim should be lifted and show-cause notices, suspension orders and orders about forced leave should be cancelled.

On the pattern of Punjab, the NWFP and Balochistan, 863 lecturers of Sindh should be regularised and their five month's salaries should be released, he stressed.

He demanded that the posts of college teachers should be upgraded on the pattern of university teachers, 62 seats of teachers in grade-20, 482 in grade-19 and 458 in grade-18, which were vacant for quite sometime, should be filled through promotion, and minimum wages of cooperative lecturers should be raised to at least Rs10,000 per month.

Prof. Aziz said that as per decision of Sindh cabinet, the secretary of education, director general of colleges and regional director working on OPS should be immediately removed and college professors should be appointed to the posts on the basis of seniority and merit.

He called for shifting the offices of director general of Sindh colleges from Karachi to Hyderabad and raise in non-attractive allowance announced by the PPP government in 1994.

He said that 10-year ban on transfers of lecturers, who were selected by the Sindh Public Service Commission in 2002, should be lifted and on the pattern of university teachers, the college teachers should be given medical allowance of Rs2,000 per month.

Prof Aziz demanded that higher secondary scheme should be abolished and the status of schools should be raised to colleges, college teachers academy should be reactivated and professional colleges for girls awarding degrees in B.Com, B.C.S., B.B.A. should be opened in each district.

He demanded that the Rangers should be asked to vacate the hostels of Government Muslim Science College and Government College Kali Mori, and only professors having commerce degrees should be appointed as principals in commerce colleges as per recommendations of HEC.

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Dysfunctional schools
Educational institutions: bastions of learning, knowledge and training? They should be, but are they? In Pakistan, some schools, especially in the rural areas, present an entirely different picture. According to a report, in Fata schools have emerged as hotbeds of corruption. Political authorities are said to hand out contracts for the construction of school buildings to the tribal elders to win their support for government plans. It is then left at the discretion of these chiefs to determine the fate of these buildings. Usually buildings are constructed but not all of them are run as schools. Some are used as hujras - male guest houses. Directorate officials claim that the political turmoil, the worsening law and order situation and burgeoning levels of poverty have raised the dropout rate. That may explain why some schools are not functional. But what about the others?

It is disquieting that this trend is part of the larger phenomenon of dysfunctional schools all over the country. Thousands of ghost schools exist in different provinces - they are shown in the records with a teaching staff that draws salaries but no institution functions on the ground. This, along with widespread absenteeism and the 'visa system' through which teachers pay a portion of their salaries to high-ups in order to secure their absences, has contributed to impaired functioning. It is a pity that education which is the harbinger of hope for the future is being thwarted so blatantly. Dysfunctional schools put the entire system in disarray. They exacerbate the problem of the dearth of schools as the ones that exist and consume funds do not serve the purpose they were meant for. There is a relentless demand for a rise in the amount of funds that should be allocated to the education sector. But with existing resources being brazenly misused for purposes which have nothing to do with education, is this demand valid? Given the low level of spending on education in Pakistan no one would deny the need to enhance the education budget. But it is important that the focus should be on capacity-building, monitoring and accountability. Dawn

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