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The dying Education sector -letter

Right to education has been recognized as a fundamental human right and its promotion is one of the most important agenda of the Millennium Development Goals. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, especially in Chitral, this sector has collapsed resulting in degeneration of our national life. There are many reasons for this malaise but I would confine myself to just one area and as an educationist, I believe that by addressing this problem area we can jump starts the improvement process, not just in education but also in other sectors of the Government.

Government employees are governed under the Civil Servants Act and rules made under this Act. These rules, codified in the Estacode, oblige all government employees not to indulge in politics or become members of political parties or externally funded NGOs. Any one violating these rules is liable to be dismissed. These rules are being flouted with impunity and in most cases with active support and connivance of elected representatives and senior officials. All efforts to rectify the situation are being blocked by political leaders. If law makers are bent upon breaking the laws, there is not much that one can do about it except waiting for some miracle to happen or just become a spectator while the system goes asunder.

In Chitral we held three seminars on education since 2005, one was organized by the then District Government, the other by a private college and the third one held recently by the DCO. All three seminars came up with an agreed suggestion that without enforcing the Conduct and Discipline rules made under the Civil Servants Act the drift can not be arrested. Sharing their observations and experiences speakers in these seminars stated that most of teachers remained on NGO sponsored tours or seminars during the major part of the year completely ignoring their teaching duties. They get salaries from the Government but work for NGOs and political parties. NGOs offer them easy money while political parties give them protection.

During one of these seminars the District Government promised action and appointed a committee headed by a young motivated U.C Nazim, Mohammad Wazir. The committee report was approved and the EDO Education was directed to take disciplinary action against all those teachers who were working for NGOs. Show cause notices were issued to all those teachers but no actions were taken. There is a strong perception that powerful local politicians having links at the corridors of power came to their rescue and defeated the much needed move of the District Government.

Recently a civic spirited citizen, running a private college filed an application with the EDO Education requesting him to take action against teachers doing politics and NGO business. The official tried to intimidate him saying that he had no locus standi to file the complaint. But he argued that his college results were badly affected by the quality of students coming to him from Government schools. Moreover, as a tax payer he had full rights to hold the system accountable. Even this argument did not move the authorities, forcing him to threaten the officials that he would move the courts to get justice. Only then the complaint was entertained but no action has been taken so far.

A few days back the young man came to me and narrated the whole story and requested me for help. I told him that my own efforts in this behalf, including the three seminars, which the mafia has made ineffective. I advised him not to lose hope and continue his noble work. Meanwhile I wrote an application to the Prime Minister for help as a last resort and sought help from a batch fellow holding important position in the Prime Minister’s Secretariat but so far nothing has come out it. There is an impression that a local politician having access to the Prime Minister may have blocked action on my application. There is a general perception that some politicians are patronizing these teachers in return for support in elections.

This is a tragic that some politicians are playing havoc with national interests for petty political gains. Some people say that there is a pattern in this madness. They want to maintain their stranglehold on the society by keeping the majority uneducated. It is therefore not surprising that their own children are receiving education in private schools. This is a suicidal course. Sooner or later the public wrath would wipe away their castles, built with stolen money from the public exchequer, if they do not wake up to the emerging realities of our national life.

Meanwhile will the Supreme Court take suo motu notice of the situation to ensure the citizen’s fundamental human right to education? --(Islamuddin, Garam Chashma, 21 Nov 2010).



Comment 1

With reference to the letter by.Islamuddin, I can only add my profound sorrow and dismay over the state of affairs in Education Department in Chitral. I borrow a sentence from a most current article of Dr Faisal Bari who wrote "if we want our children to be better educated, we need better teachers ...." The article being worth reading may be accessed at\11\25\story_25-11-2010_pg3_4
May I also remind the sitting EDO Education of the enormous professional responsibilities she owes to Chitral as an educator and top educational administrator in the district. The youth of Chitral deserves to benefit from her professional acumen and wisdom as graduate of not less than the world renowned Aga Khan University. Failing to manage the educational affairs with efficiency and effectiveness will yield highly deplorable consequences. May I also dare to remind the mighty district administration, headed by a vibrant and vocal DCO, that dealing a few disgruntled and black-sheep called teachers (if any) should not be a problem at all. A couple of stringent actions will suffice.

Is this that a serious matter that the worthy writer had to approach not less than the Prime Minister of Pakistan for help. What a pity that local administration is helpless". --Sajjad Haider, Department of English NUML, Islamabad, 25 Nov 2010

Comment 2

In continuation of the very important letter of Islamuddin sahib I want to add a few lines through this letter. Though I am not educationist , but during my visit to Chitral last year I had noticed that, the political gathering not only of teachers but the government servant of almost all agencies in the name of “SHAPIK" was in the peak. The hosts were mainly those who work in clerical position in various government departments specially in food and C&W and live like kings, were in competition to offer batter service (Shapik) to their illegal political guests. I noticed that, even a local politician organized similar nature of get together in governor cottage, where 80% hosts were government employees including doctors. It is beyond imagination that, formal party based organizations of government servants are formed having fully functional panel. So far I was thinking that, permission may have been granted for such activities, but the letter of Islamuddin shows that it is illegal under government servant act. How surprising it is that, head of departments, even minister who has taken oath in front of 140 million people to remain faithful with country is openly violating an act of constitution.

NGO bribery to key segment of the society including teachers specially journalists, in the name of exposure tour is there for decades, and every new NGO offer this bribe to journalists and news reporters (save noble exceptions) to use the media for its advertisement and to spread propagandas in is favor. The news reporters then stand tough to report any thing against the NGOs which blocks their vocal cord with one single exposure tour. Similar are the teachers and head of departments who grant permission to their staff to do so. NGOs bribe to higher ups of government departments first in the name of consultancy, despite knowing the fact that they have zero knowledge about the subject of consultancy they are hired for.

I strongly support Mr. Islamuddin to keep the teachers and other government officials specially the clerks who control their bosses, away from politics, and concentrate on their primary responsibilities. I will also request the journalists and media reporters to avoid participating in activities which tapes their mouth and hands to write and report the truth in the best interest of the nation specially Chitral. --Dr. Khalil (Jughooru), Hamilton Ontario Canada, 25 Nov 2010.


Comment 3

The learned writer has rightly pointed out basing his arguments on the ground realities. Here I would like to add few points in this regard on other perspective but my points will at the end certainly converge to the topic.
It is a universal fact that every thing revolves around education. Education is the bedrock and very foundation of the nation. Alexander the great says about Aristotle (his tutor and great Greek philosopher) “father gave me life and teacher endowed me with the art to live. Would it be better to broaden my knowledge in lieu of stretch in my empire and I could reach to virtue”. I can conclude here that the real powerful empire is knowledge not money and empire but unfortunately majority of our people have created gap between knowledge and education. We think that teaching is an easy and cozy profession. There are more vacations and less accountability in this profession. I think and most will be agreeing with me that teaching is not a profession but a most difficult task of dedication and commitment for a noble cause of nation building.

Both public and private sector teachers, not all, are recruited without considering their orientation, aspiration, knowledge and philosophy of education. These uncommitted and least dedicated teachers, either most of the time remain absent from educational institutions or taking no interest in their duty or leave to another department on the behest of others having partisan dual job.

Another important thing is our philosophy of education. We get education more for the sake of money and less for the sake of knowledge. Our educational policy at national level seems to be based on short term objectives without considering long term goals. Unless we make multi-disciplinary research based approach for preparing such a curriculum which could integrate all aspect of human life and development, can never improve education system and quality of life in this class based education system.

Now we need to develop a conducive educational culture every where inducing students to have a positive approach to understand what exactly the philosophy of education is? Government and private sector should collaboratively make black and white rules bring all the points in questions in exhaustive consideration of educationists and research scholars guaranteeing their implementation with letter and spirit. --Alhaj Muhammad Khan, Charun, Chitral. 26, Nov 2010


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