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Punjab school teachers serious shortage

Shortage of school teachers at all levels
Lahore, Nov 8: Public schools at all levels in the country, particularly those in the districts beyond the main metropolitan centres, have become dysfunctional due to a serious shortage of teachers. This shortage is especially severe in the case of science subjects such as physics, chemistry, and biology.

There are both political and professional reasons for this situation. It has been reported that several thousand teaching posts have been lying vacant in the interior of Sindh and the provincial government has not acted to fill them.

This has been one of the points of disagreement between the PPP and the MQM. The MQM reportedly wants these posts to be filled by its supporters. That may indeed be the reason why the provincial government, led by the PPP, has been reluctant to fill them.

Public schools that do have the requisite number of teachers have to contend with another problem. Quite a number of their teachers do not want to put in a whole day's work to earn their salaries, paid vacations and holidays. They come to work late and leave early. On certain days they stay away simply because they do not feel like coming to work or because they have something else to do.

When they do make an appearance, they do not want to do much by way of teaching. They urge students to come to their homes where they tutor them individually or in small groups and charge hefty fees.

The teachers have done no more than adopted the seriously impaired work ethic prevalent in the country's public services. Government employees in most departments shirk honest work the same way. By contrast those working in private corporations and business houses work long hours and must show that their employer is getting his money's worth and possibly more. Teachers in private schools and colleges do the same. The private sector pays higher remuneration than does the public, but then it also expects higher levels of performance.

There may be several reasons for the shortage of teachers in public schools, especially the ones that employ men only. In the old days teaching was ranked among the noblest of professions, and in some places it still is. With the increasing commercialisation of society and its values, that has ceased to be the case in Pakistan. In spite of their high ranking, teachers were rather poorly paid in most societies. That continues to be the case in Pakistan.

A college graduate teaching in a primary school will make considerably less than his peers working in a corporation do, and probably less than those employed in a government agency. Teaching is thus not an attractive career for young men when they have completed their formal education. For most of them it is the last resort: they will take a teaching job if they have found nothing better. Teaching and medicine used to be and may still be the preferred occupations for well-educated young women. This may not remain the case as jobs in other sectors (including soldiering) open up for them.

The shortage of teachers is particularly vexing in the rural areas. Villages and small towns are wanting in many of the basic amenities of life. A young child may have to walk several miles to attend a middle school while his parents may have to travel farther to buy groceries, medicines or visit a clinic, not to speak of a movie house. Folks living in a village may not have access to wholesome food and even safe drinking water.

It is then not difficult to understand that a college-educated young man or woman, with a degree in education, will be reluctant to work in a village primary school unless it is practical for him or her to live in a larger town and commute to work every day.

Then what is to be done? There is a financial aspect to the problem, and then there is the matter of educated young people's willingness to become teachers. The central and provincial governments have substantially increased their financial allocations for education. But much of these increases have gone to the expansion and improvement of institutions of higher learning. As a result, some of these institutions in the public sector have more money than they can usefully spend.

Post-secondary education in Pakistan will not reach high levels of achievement unless the elementary and middle schools, where a child's educational foundations are laid, are streamlined. Their infrastructure - grounds, buildings, classrooms and furniture - and the adequacy of their teachers leave much to be desired. These shortcomings need to be rectified. The job will require a larger allocation of funds.

There are young people capable enough to have numerous other options who prefer to be teachers. But many more of them will need inducements, the most effective of which relate to pay and social status.

The esteem in which members of a profession are held depends on a society's values, which do not change to order or in a hurry. Functionaries who have it in their power to allow or deny material benefits to people are usually held in higher esteem than those who lack it. Primary school teachers do not have this kind of power, and they do not compare well with those who do even if their pay is about the same as the teachers' - for instance the local patwari (the lowest rung in the hierarchy of land revenue assessors and collectors) or a police constable. It is possible that the teachers' social status will rise if their salaries are increased in order to give them a middle class standard of living.

But we do not know whether the government will treat the matter of the primary school teachers' social status as worthy of its serious consideration and if it will do anything to enhance it. -Anwar Syed Dawn

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War of words over education department 'closed door' policy
Lahore: The Punjab Higher Education Department's 'closed door' policy has finally resulted in exchange of heated argument between two senior officers.

The department's novel policy which had been a matter of serious concern for visitors coming from far-flung areas of the province has now also started affecting working of the department's employees as doors leading to upper hall which houses almost all the sections are locked during the working hours.

On Friday, Additional Secretary (Establishment) Humayun Maqbool Bhatti and Under Secretary (General) Maqbool Ahmed Ijaz got involved in a 'war of words' over locking of the doors as latter wanted smooth access of the staffers which the senior officer denied.

Sources in the department said the Additional Secretary (Establishment) who was next to Secretary Higher Education in terms of administrative powers had ordered locking of the doors as he was annoyed of frequent visitors seeking transfers/postings. During a visit to the department on Saturday besides some visitors this correspondent observed dozens of employees standing outside because of locked doors.

"The doors are locked in the morning as soon as all the employees get in", said the employees who were anxiously awaiting opening of the doors. "I had gone to deliver Daak (official letters/documents etc) but now cannot go inside," said a staffer asking not to be named.

"This is badly affecting the overall working," he said adding, "Earlier only the visitors had to face the problem". He said no other department had adopted such a policy.

An official said people had to see senior officers as their problems were not being solved. "Why anyone will meet the officers if his/her problem is solved", he questioned.

Another employee seeking anonymity said the access problem was only for 'ordinary' people adding, "This is not the case with MPAs or MNAs." "The common people are asked to visit one-window while those in power are always welcomed," he added.

He said the department was highly understaffed due to which people had to face delay and suffer. "Besides a number of section officers (SOs) the department is still waiting for at least two deputy secretaries (DSs)", he added.

Secretary Higher Education Ahad Khan Cheema confirmed locking of the doors. "We want to stop interference of people", he said adding, "The visits help people to establish relationship with department's employees."

He said, "We have honest people but some people do offer when they come to get their problems solved."

Mr Cheema said the one-window was there to help the people due to which they did not need to see the officials concerned. When his attention was drawn to frequent complaint about delays through one-window, he claimed that pendency level was almost zero.

Mr Cheema expressed ignorance over exchange of arguments between two senior officers. He, however, said some employees were resisting the change. He also confirmed shortage of staff, saying vacant posts would be filled soon. The news

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Nation to pay homage to Poet of the East
Lahore: The 132nd birthday of national poet Dr Allama Mohammad Iqbal will be celebrated tomorrow (Monday) in a befitting manner.The government has declared holiday in schools, colleges and courts. The Jail Road traders will also observe holiday on the day. The newspapers will bring out special supplements on the poet and philosopher of the East while radio and TV channels will also air special programmers on Dr Iqbal.

Various literary, social and religious organisations will lay floral wreath at the mazar of Allama Iqbal while special meetings to highlight the life and works of Allama Iqbal will also be held at different places in the City. PU Vice Chancellor Dr Mujahid Kamran will lead a big carawan of students and teachers to Mazar-e-Iqbal to lay floral wreath. They will assemble at Faisal Auditorium, New Campus, in the morning to proceed to the mazar.

Later a meeting will be held in which scholars will throw light on the life and works of Allama Iqbal and also singing of kalam-e-Iqbal. Iqbal Academy Pakistan will organise an Iqbal Day function at Iqbal Academy, Aiwan-e-Iqbal Complex, at 4 pm. Dr Javed Iqbal will preside over the function. Dr Israr Ahmad, Prof Fateh Mohammad Malik, Iftikhar Arif, Zaid Hamid and others will address.

Allama Iqbal Medical College will also organise a special sitting on Allama Iqbal on November 10 at 10 am. Dr Israr Ahmad will preside over while Ayaz Amir and Prof Muzaffar Irza will address on the occasion. Nazria Pakistan Trust in collaboration with Tehrik-e-Pakistan Workers Trust has launched celebraton of the Iqbal Day week till November 9. The NPT delegation led by its Chairman Majid Nizami will lay floral wreath at Mazar-e-Iqbal and offer fateha. Later a meeting will be also held at the Aiwan-e-Karkunan Tehrik-e-Pakistan. The Iranian Consulate General will also organise a meeting at Iranian Cultural Centre, Gulberg.

The books on Iqbal will also be displayed at eh centre. Various schools and colleges will also organise singing competitions on kalam-e-Iqbal.

In Shehr-e-Iqbal, Kainat Welfare Foundation will organise a special meeting at SARCO Hotel, Cantt, and Government Girls Higher Secondary School for Girls. A number of literary personalities will speak on the occasion while students will sing kalam-e-Iqbal. People will also visit Iqbal Manzil at Sialkot, the ancestral home of the national poet. The nation

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PPSC appointed five doctors
Lahore: Dr. Rashid Mahmood, has been appointed as Professor of Paediatrics, Sheikh Zayed Medical College, Rahim Yar Khan by terminating the contract appointment of Dr. Mubarik Ali Professor of Paediatrics, SZMC, Rahim Yar Khan. This appointment shall be conditional to his furnishing surety bond to the effect that he will serve in Sheikh Zayed Medical College, Rahim Yar Khan for a minimum period of three years.

Dr. Hina Ayesha has been appointed as Professor of Paediatrics, Rawalpindi Medical College Rawalpindi against an existing vacancy. Dr. Muhammad Iqbal Khan has been appointed as Professor of Paediatrics, Post Graduate Medical Institute, Lahore against an existing vacancy. Dr. Aftab Asif has been appointed as Professor of Psychiatry, Sheikh Zayed Medical College, Rahim Yar Khan against an existing vacancy.

This appointment shall be conditional to his furnishing surety bond to the effect that he will serve in Sheikh Zayed Medical College, Rahimyar Khan for a minimum period of three years. Dr. Khawar Ali has been appointed as Professor of Anaesthesia, Sheikh Zayed Medical College Rahim Yar Khan against an existing vacancy. This appointment shall be conditional to his furnishing surety bond to the effect that he will serve in Sheikh Zayed Medical College, Rahimyar Khan for a minimum period of three years.

Dr. Muhammad Moin has been appointed as Professor of Opthalmology, Quaid-e-Azam Medical College Bahawalpur against an existing vacancy. This appointment shall be conditional to his furnishing surety bond to the effect that he will serve in Quaid-e-Azam Medical College, Bahwalpur for a minimum period of three years. F.P Report

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Concern over poor conditions at library
Lahore: We are proud of our glorious past but we should also look into our present and be more concerned about our future, said Government College University (GCU) Vice Chancellor Dr Khalid Aftab.

Addressing a function held at the Punjab Public Library in connection with the 125th anniversary of the library, he showed his concern over the dilapidated condition of the Punjab Public Library and disappearance of precious books from there.

He stressed the need for taking substantial decisions for its improvement. He said resources and technical assistance were required for conserving the important books of the library. Dr Khalid Aftab said he would be very happy if he could do something for the library. He also remembered the days when he used to come to this library with his uncle Ashfaq Ahmed, a well-known writer and scholar.

He said books should not be kept in lockers in the library. He also disapproved lengthy procedures for issuing books to readers. He said there should be one window operation at all the libraries for it. He said that universities and public sector libraries should play role in promoting reading culture in Pakistan. The news

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Gilgit students walk to Lahore on 'peace mission'
Lahore: Two students from the Karakoram University in Gilgit have reached Lahore on a peace mission after traveling on foot for 30 days during the first phase of their trip, a private TV channel reported on Saturday.

According to the channel, Ejaz Ali Romi and Azghal Ali Romi began their journey for Karachi in October and reached the Minar-e-Pakistan after 30 days. The students were warmly received by members of the civil society on their arrival in the provincial capital. They will leave for Karachi on Monday and conclude their walk at the Quaid's mausoleum. Daily times

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Three students perish in accident
Jhang: Three high school students were crushed to death after the motorbike they were driving was hit by a speeding bus near shorkot on Saturday morning.

According to details, Tasawar Hussain, Sadam Hussain and Aamir Hayat, residents of Chak 496, were on their way to their school, Government High School, Batianwala, where all three of them were 10th class students, on a motorbike.

When they reached near the school on the outskirts of Batianwala, a bus coming from the opposite direction hit the motorcycle. Resultantly, Tasawar and Saddam died on the spot while Aamar Hayat, who was seriously injured, breathed his last on his way to a hospital. The dirver and conductor of the bus escaped from the place of occurrence. Dawn

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Updated: 14 Oct, 2014
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