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August 14, 2017



KP govt’s decision likely to aggravate education standards

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government’s decision to lift the condition of pre-recruitment trainings for government schoolteachers could worsen the already bad performance of public sector educational institutions besides making the dozens of Institute of Education and Research (IER) and Regional Institute of Teachers Training (RITE) irrelevant.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led coalition government has been making new experiments in the education sector since the beginning of its rule in 2013. Recently, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Education Department decided to end the condition of pre recruitment training for teachers at the primary, middle, secondary and higher secondary schools and introduce a six-month post-recruitment training for the teachers.

Currently, having Primary Teaching Certificate (PTC), Certified Teaching (CT), Bachelor in Education (B.Ed) and Master’s in Education (M.Ed) are mandatory for hiring teachers for government schools. At least 13 IERs and 17 RITEs across the province are imparting trainings to teachers and produce thousands of trained manpower yearly.

Similarly, a good number of private institutes have also been offering the teaching courses. The high standard IER of the University of Peshawar alone produces 350 B.Ed and M.Ed degree holders each year. Recently, it introduced a four-year degree programme in education called B.Ed (honours) in line with the directives of the Higher Education Commission, Islamabad.

The officials at the Education Department and common people in the society are backing the government decision. They believe that this way the series of hiring “incompetent” candidates holding degrees from substandard private institutions would be stopped.

Qaiser Alam, special secretary at the Education Department, told The News that everyone could easily get a degree or certificate in education from institutions set up in the streets and they not only get recruited but even promoted on the basis of those certificates. This adversely affects the standard of education, he added.

He said the pre-recruitment training was not necessary. “We don’t have any pre-appointment training for management officers. By ending these unnecessary conditions, we would not only be able to hire the right people for the right jobs, but six-month post training is enough for teachers to improve their skills,” he argued.

An academician supporting the government decision said that there was no such compulsion even for college teachers. Therefore, the training for schoolteachers hold no relevance, he opined.

There is, however, a strong counter narrative to the government decision. Director IER, University of Peshawar, Prof Dr Arshad Ali said that pre-appointment training was very much necessary for teachers.

He said it was a main requirement for teachers across the world. “In the developed countries, three, four and even five-year training is given to teachers before their appointment on the pattern of doctors and engineers,” he added.

In view of the international standards, the HEC decided to phase out the one-year B.Ed degree programme and ask the universities across the country to launch four-year course in its place. Therefore, reducing the teachers’ training to six months, that too from pre to post-recruitment, would be a violation of the HEC directives.

Dr Arshad Ali said that the teachers in their institute were imparted proper training in education and research. He said it was not true that graduates from specialised subjects like science and English literature seldom get degrees in education.

“Let me tell you that majority of our students get degrees in science and other specialised subjects before admission in B.Ed and M.Ed. We have students graduated from all the departments of the University of Peshawar,” he said.

He was of the opinion that the teachers graduated from the institute have not only earned great name and fame in the education sector in the province, but many of them were also rendering valuable services in international organisations.

He said that instead of lifting the condition of proper qualification, the government should overcome political interference in recruitments and make the system transparent. This way the practice of getting certificates and degrees from substandard private institutions would come to an end automatically, he opined.

The decision once implemented would certainly affect enrolments at the IERs and RITEs as the courses being offered there would be rendered irrelevant in the province.

According to senior academicians, any decision taken in haste would bear adverse consequences. The government should consult all the stakeholders before going ahead with the implementation of the decision.

Some reports suggest that money was playing a key role in making the decision. Certain academicians felt that international non-governmental organisations provide lavish funds in the name of capacity building and training. The post-recruitment training would provide everyone involved in the process to earn handsome packages under different heads.

But they say that for the purpose, they do not need to lift the condition of pre-recruitment trainings. They could arrange post-recruitment trainings in the name of Continuous Professional Development, which is done in the rest of the world.