Sir: Teachers in Pakistan perform multiple duties apart from teaching. There are two types of non-teaching duties: government imposed, and arbitrary. The first includes polio drives, examination-related, elections, census, relief activities in disasters, inspections of schools with executives etc. The second comprises side business ventures, teachers’ unions, administrative duties assigned by heads, and embarking on preaching trips. This absenteeism exercises harmful impact on students’ performance and increases drop outs.
According to a report issued in 2015, the ratio of out of school children is as follows: Balochistan 70 percent; Sindh 56 percent; Punjab 44 percent; KP 36 percent; Fata 60 percent and GB and Kashmir each 50 percent. Regretfully, enrolment at primary level drops from 70 percent to 47 percent at middle and 31 percent at high levels. Paradoxically, out of total 50.8m children, 26.8m are in schools and 24.0m are out of school. Poverty, gender disparity, being a minority, poor infrastructure, conflicts, social norms, migration, high fees school distance, school violence, refugee status, early marriages, late entry, poor funding, child labour, language challenge, poor infrastructure, disability, high fees, no teachers, etc. are potent agents of this conundrum.
Pakistan is ranked the second largest country having out of school children after Nigeria. Pakistan also has the highest number of illiterate adults in the world, after India and China. This phenomenon gives way to increased enrolment in seminaries, where these impressionable and delicate minds can easily be trapped dangerously.
Steps need to be taken on a war footing so as to integrate out of school children. Alternative education must be replicated in Pakistan too.
A number of studies have employed bridging courses or reintegration programmes in an attempt to incorporate out-of-school children back into school. Through this, child labourers can be mainstreamed into the formal education system via informal schooling. Classes should be held after school hours in the afternoon, to enable children to work in the mornings and evenings and attend educational activities as well. This must embrace hands on approaches to make learning activities interesting and enjoyable.
Constant rebates and incentives are another strategy. Fee abolishment and capitation grant can lead to significant increase in enrolment, particularly in regions with extremely low enrolment trends. The benefits included a small financial stipend, a snack, biannual de-worming treatment and an annual eye examination.
Community awareness programmes targeting socio-cultural barriers must focus on increasing parental interest in their children’s education, along with strategies targeting negative attitudes towards disabilities. Strategies in this plan included integrating children with non-severe physical and mental disabilities into mainstream schools, along with sensitisation programmes on disability issues and special educational needs. The government, media and NGOs must use public awareness campaigns to highlight the importance of education and encourage families to send their children to school.
Teacher education must comprise pre-serve and in-service training, speech and debate skills and intense student interaction. This will inspire students and result in cultural homophile and greater empathy.Independent monitoring units must established on the pattern of KP to exercise checks on teachers and students’ performance and retention be linked to their ACR and promotion.It’s time to get out of the deeper slumber of criminal negligence and invest in this untapped human gold for more bright future.
BY: SAEED ULLAH KHAN WAZIR