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Saturday March 02, 2024

World Teachers’ Day today as 82,000 teaching posts lay vacant

October 05, 2021

LAHORE:With around 82,000 vacant posts of schoolteachers and almost 5,000 more teachers going to retire next year, the Punjab government will observe World Teachers’ Day 2021, unlike the rest of the world, on Tuesday (today).

In the wake of global disruption caused by Covid-19 crisis during the one-and-a-half years, the day is being celebrated globally under the theme “Teachers at the heart of education recovery” this year. There are 448,637 sanctioned posts of schoolteachers in Punjab and of these 366,671 posts are filled while 81,966 posts are vacant as per the Annual School Census 2020-21 Report issued recently by the Punjab Education Sector Reform Program (PESRP). This means 18 percent of the sanctioned posts are vacant in the province.

As per Punjab Schools Department’s own School Information System (SIS), available online, the number of vacant posts of teachers is 90,810 which mean 20 percent of all the sanctioned posts are vacant in the province. According to the online portal over 5,000 teachers would retire from service in 2022 and some 6,300 teachers will retire in 2023. In Punjab more than half of these vacant posts are those of primary level teachers as well as teachers of science, math and computer science subjects. According to the report, Punjab has the highest proportion of students enrolled in primary schools—more than 6.9 million of the total enrollment of 11.4 million.

Sources in the School Education Department (SED) Punjab said that the disproportion between the sanctioned posts and the vacant posts had never been this huge in the past because the PTI government did not go for bulk recruitment as witnessed during the tenure of PML-N. They added that the PML-N government recruited over 150,000 teachers from 2015 to 2018 with a maximum 80,000 recruitment of teachers in 2017-18 alone.

The sources further said, contrary to that, since the PTI government came to power in Punjab only a few hundred teachers had been recruited in two districts Mianwali (hometown of Prime Minister Imran Khan) and Rawalpindi.

It is pertinent to mention here that as per the PTI manifesto 2018 the party had announced creating 10 million jobs over 5 years in different sectors including education. The critics argue that the PTI government could start materialising its 10 million jobs dream by recruiting schoolteachers against thousands of vacant posts in Punjab but it did not despite the shortage of teachers in public schools which was strange. M Idrees (name changed to protect identity) is an Elementary School Teacher (EST) at Govt Chistia High School, Islampura. He is supposed to teach students of elementary (6 to 8) classes only but over the years he has taught students of Class-9th and Class-10th because of the shortage of teachers at the school.

“This is the story of almost every government school,” he said. It is also pertinent to mention here that under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by the United Nations in 2015 and signed by Pakistan like other many other countries, Goal no. 4 pertains to education. The target 4.c under the SDG 4 calls for substantially increasing the supply of qualified teachers by the year 2030 as teachers are considered the key to achieving all of the SDG 4 targets.

The News could not reach Punjab Schools Minister Dr Murad Raas despite repeated attempts on his cell phone. When contacted, Secretary SED Punjab Ghulam Farid said that a summary to recruit 33,000 plus schoolteachers, including primary school teachers, across the province was already in the process while the department was also working to recruit School Teaching Interns (STIs) as per need basis in six selected districts including Gujranwala, Sialkot, Mianwali, Dera Ghazi Khan, Rahim Yar Khan and Rajanpur.