Sunday June 16, 2024

Non-teaching staff shortage hits govt colleges

By Jamila Achakzai
June 05, 2023

Islamabad : Many federal government colleges in Islamabad are plagued by an acute shortage of non-teaching staff members with many insisting that the failure of authorities to fill the vacancies of paraprofessionals and other auxiliary personnel raises serious questions about the commitment of authorities to the cause of formal education in the federal capital. According to them, these employees are important stakeholders of the education system as they ensure the smooth running of colleges by carrying out administrative activities and help teachers focus on student education but have no opportunities for professional training to build their capacity.

Among the educational institutions hit by this staff shortage is the prestigious Islamabad Model Postgraduate College H-8, whose 36 out of the total 84 non-teaching positions have been vacant for a long time. The college has many clerical vacancies, which are disrupting the smooth running of academic activities. It has no groundsmen, so the only mali (gardener) is given the additional task of overseeing the maintenance of cricket and football grounds, and other open areas spread over a sprawling 37 acres of land. As it’s not humanly possible for him to do that work, a teacher of physical education has stepped in to voluntarily assume the role of the groundskeeper. He trims grass and cleans grounds, but still, these outdoor play spaces are, by and large, not well-maintained to the trouble of the students carrying out extracurricular activities.

Also, the accountant’s post is vacant increasing the workload of the drawing and disbursing officer, who, as a professor, has to do teaching assignments as well. Insiders insist that the lack of administrative support has immensely pressured the professor and thus, badly impacting the timely management of crucial financial matters. The Islamabad Model College for Boys H-9 is no different when it comes to the shortage of non-teaching staff. Spread over 47 acres of land, the college has 94 non-teaching positions but almost half of them i.e. 39have long been lying vacant. The vacancies include all five of sweepers causing a lack of cleanliness in toilets, corridors, and offices. The college is also short of clerks and lab attendants delaying the early disposal of administrative and academic work. An acute shortage of non-teaching staff members has also been reported in girls' colleges, including the Islamabad Model Postgraduate Colleges G-10/4 and Islamabad Model College for Girls Humak.

The Islamabad model colleges for girls I-8/3 and I-14/3 are managing administrative and other non-teaching affairs by "borrowing" the relevant employees from other educational institutions. The regulator for college has drawn flak from teachers over its failure to address critical non-teaching staff shortages. A college professor insisted that the Federal Directorate of Education oversaw public sector educational institutions in Islamabad but had miserably failed to do the job. He said the top FDE bosses had prioritised things other than teachers’ development and student learning, so many positions in FG colleges, especially those non-teaching staff, hadn’t been filled for a long time. When contacted, senior vice-president of the Federal Government College Teachers Association Professor Farhan Azam confirmed non-teaching staff shortages at FG colleges and said not only was the issue compromising the quality of education but it was hindering the holistic growth and well-being of students as well. “Non-teaching staff members of colleges cater to the needs of students and complement the professional duties and responsibilities of teachers, so their role in furthering the cause of education is significant. Immediate intervention by authorities is needed to fill their vacancies,” he said.