Why are college teachers leaving jobs?

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By Khalid Khattak 

During the last six years on average 12 college teachers were removed from services every month as they quit their jobs without informing the department, reveals an analysis of official data of the Higher Education Department (HED) Punjab.

These teachers did not follow the procedure to resign from their jobs, therefore the HED Punjab had to remove them from services for prolonged absence from duty under the Punjab Employees Efficiency, Discipline and Accountability (PEEDA) Act. While the department’s move of taking disciplinary action against the teachers has been properly documented there is no record as to why these teachers chose to walk away and this replaces facts with assumptions. This, according to the stakeholders, raises questions on the working of the government department.

A total of 888 teachers were removed from service between January 2016 to December 2022 of which 453 were male teachers while the remaining 435 were female teachers. These teachers included lecturers and assistant professors and the analysis shows most of those removed were lecturers which means those who quit were relatively new appointees.

While the department never bothered to investigate as to why these young individuals said goodbye to one of the most secure government jobs, there is a general perception that most of them either went abroad on foreign scholarships and did not return and in cases many quit for more rewarding opportunities within the country. In the case of female teachers, the consensus is that the majority left the profession after marriage as women in Pakistan are often forced out of their careers once they are married and in many cases others had to quit as they were posted far away from their hometowns and could not continue because of hardship they faced.

This data was obtained using the Right to Information (RTI) law and the requested information was provided only after the Punjab Information Commission (PIC) intervened as the department earlier did not respond to the RTI (FOI) request within the stipulated time period under the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013.

“The appointment of teachers in colleges is not just competitive but a lengthy and time-consuming process and those who ultimately suffer when a teacher leaves the job are the students,” commented Dr Hafiz Muhammad Iqbal, former Dean of Education, University of the Punjab. 

Dr Iqbal says that the department should know why teachers are leaving the job and do something to control the situation. There should be some sort of policy that the teachers at least inform the department before quitting so that the department can make informed decisions subsequently, he suggests.  

It is pertinent to mention here that teachers in public colleges are appointed after a highly competitive process involving Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) exam and interview. Only a couple of years back, against 2,400 teaching posts some 375,000 candidates had applied online on the PPSC portal.

Sources in the HED Punjab said that presently the department had a shortage of around 7,000 teachers and had recently advertised hiring of 3,650 College Teaching Interns (CTIs) in order to overcome shortage of the teaching staff. 

Commenting upon teachers’ decision of abruptly quitting the jobs, Punjab Professors & Lecturers Association (PPLA) former president Abdul Khaliq Nadeem says that since teachers in their first posting are usually posted in small towns or in the outskirts of big cities many females leave jobs within a short period of time as they are posted far away from home and cannot continue because of hardship they face in commuting or living away from family.

According to Abdul Khaliq Nadeem some teachers also quit as they join civil service after CSS or PMS exams where they enjoy power besides handsome salaries and different perks and privileges.

The analysis further reveals that of all 888 teachers, 270 teachers were of science subjects including those of Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Botany etc while rest of the 618 teachers were of arts subjects with majority teaching English, Urdu and Punjabi language subjects.

A college teacher, while requesting anonymity, said that the department had no mechanism to maintain records of those who even resign. To explain, he said a couple of years back one of his colleagues resigned as he was selected at a university. However, somehow he could not join the university and meanwhile over a year had passed. “To his surprise when he went back to HED he was informed there was no record of his resignation so he was fine to continue at his college.

Raja Yassir Humayun Sarfraz, Punjab Minister for Higher Education, agrees that there should be a proper mechanism to document those who quit the job.

Talking about female teachers’ possibility of quitting because of the posting related issues, Raja Yassir said he was all for teachers being employees of colleges like the case with universities so that at least the teachers don’t have to leave because of transfer and posting related issues.

Postscript

As a postscript to the report we inform our readers that a version of this report (without charts) was published in The News the same day and was widely shared on social media including Twitter. The report also caught attention of the acclaimed Pakistani journalist and host of talk show “Capital Talk” Mr. Hamid Mir who tweeted the story and initiated an informed debate.

 

 

Note: The main image for this report was created in DALL·E 2, a new artificial intelligence (AI) system that can create realistic images and art from a description in natural language.

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