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February 2, 2018

Strict merit vital for future generations: AJK minister


February 2, 2018

LONDON: Azad Jammu and Kashmir Minister of Education Syed Iftikhar Gilani has said that strict merit must be adopted while recruiting schoolteachers through an independent third party organisation like National Testing Service (NTS) in education department, which employees around 50 percent of the total workforce in Azad Kashmir.

The government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) has decided to recruit schoolteachers through an independent third party organisation, National Testing Service (NTS), aimed to ensure merit in recruitment and raise the standard of education in the territory.

In an interview with this correspondent here after attending an international education conference convened by the British government, Iftikhar Gilani said that the government headed by Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider was facing unprecedented political pressure after introducing National Test Service (NTS) and third-party evaluation, but "we are reforming the education system for future generations to empower and equip them with merit-based education, delivered by competent teachers and not political activists and hangers-ons”.

“Raja Farooq Haider’s leadership has made it possible that we don’t tolerate nepotism and corruption. The AJK prime minister is going out of his way to promote merit and transparency and its reflected best in the education system,” said the AJK education minister.

The former London University’s law graduate, who has been elected twice from Muzaffarabad to the Legislative assembly, said that for years jobs were distributed as a political bribe to get votes and thousands of teachers were inducted in the education department in complete violation of the merit system. “Jobs were distributed to please the voters but that damaged our youth, our education system, we produced thousands of degree holders who have degrees but no substance and no knowledge”. Iftikhar Gilani said that education department is the biggest employer in AJK and government has no department which can be used to accommodate thousands of people seeking jobs every year.

“Previous governments used education department for political purposes by employing teachers on political grounds. Since we came into power around 18 months ago, we immediately stopped distributing jobs of teachers as trophies and have brought a strict and impartial merit system which means that only those eligible and competent enough can qualify to become teachers.

The era of bribery in education department is over. We have introduced third-party induction system, we have ended adhocism and making concrete efforts to modernise the whole system. In our view education is at the core of any society’s development and if the youth of a nation are not educated properly, that nation can never prosper and progress,” said the Education Minister, stressing that all appointments made in the last 18 months are 100 % on the basis of merit.

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