By Khalid Khattak
With thousands of vacant teaching posts in public schools and a whopping 30 percent of primary schools with only one teacher, Pakistan ‘celebrated’ World Teachers’ Day 2016 with rest of the world on Wednesday.
While Pakistan’s education system is marred by multiple problems including low budgetary allocations, low quality of education, access to schools and societal issues, the shortage of teachers also remains a challenge.
As per Pakistan Education Statistics 2014-15 released in February this year by the Academy of Educational Planning and Management (AEPAM)—a subordinate office of Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training—out of 384,700 sanctioned teaching posts in public schools across the Punjab province, 321,064 are filled which means 16.5 percent teaching posts are vacant.
In Khyber there are 138, 033 teaching posts 123, 291 are filled showing that around 11 percent of the posts are vacant. Balochistan has staggering 24 percent teaching posts vacant as out of 60,171 teaching posts 45,881 are filled. The schools in Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) have 21,655 posts out of which 19,450 are filled exposing that 10 percent of the posts are vacant.
The situation seems really bright vis-à-vis availability of teachers in government schools of Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJ&K) as against 27,835 sanctioned posts 27, 581 are filled which means only one percent of the schools have vacant teaching posts. Similarly, in Gilgit-Baltistan there are 2.5 percent vacant posts as out of total 6,904 total posts are 6,727 filled.
The AEPAM report does not have data on sanctioned teaching posts in Sindh and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) and mentions 144,170 and 6,463 posts as filled, respectively.
This year World Teachers’ Day which also marks the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers is being celebrated with the slogan “Valuing Teachers, Improving their Status”.
According to 2013 global projections from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) the world will need an extra 3.3 million primary teachers and 5.1 million lower secondary teachers in classrooms by 2030 to provide all children with basic education. According to the same document the primary pupil-teacher ratio in Pakistan is 40:1 which is high than many other countries including Sri Lanka where this ratio is 24:1
As per Pakistan Education Atlas 2015 released by AEPAM last year out of total 124,284 public sector primary schools across the country some 36,927 schools are single-teacher schools which means there is only one teacher available to students of Class 1 to Class 5 in 30 percent of the country’s government-run primary schools.
Balochistan province with 5,980 primary single-teacher schools (STS) out of total 10,585 primary schools has the highest percentage of STS in Pakistan i.e., 57 percent. Sindh has 19,011 single-teacher schools out of total 42,342 primary schools (45 percent).
There are 713 primary schools in Gilgit-Baltistan out of which 234 are STS. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has 4,559 STS out of total 23,291 primary schools. Punjab has 6,415 single-teacher schools out of total 38,427 primary schools in the province. FATA has 446 STS out of total 4,563 primary schools while AJ&K has only 282 single-teacher schools out of 4,174 primary schools. ICT out of its 191 primary schools has no single-teacher school.
As per ASER 2015—Pakistan’s largest-annual citizen-led household based survey—85pc children in Punjab are not learning in schools as per desired standards. Now this makes sense as 16.5 percent teaching posts are vacant in the province which means there is shortage of teachers to teach while the province has 17 percent primary schools where only one teacher is available to teach.
Learning outcomes of students are directly linked with the availability and performance of teachers. It is obvious students in schools with shortage of teachers and students, especially at primary level, in overcrowded classrooms can’t get due attention and hence their learning outcomes are compromised.
On the other hand the schoolteachers in Punjab observed the World Teachers’ Day as Black Day as a protest against the provincial government for, what they term, its anti-teacher and anti-education policies. The teachers are particularly upset because of the government’s move of handing over public schools to NGOs/private sector through the Punjab Education Foundation.
Main image: Dawn.com