Wednesday August 17, 2022

SC verdict, service rules ‘violated’ in appointment of Provincial Institute of Teachers Education DG

June 04, 2022

An officer of the Bureau of Curriculum Sindh has been posted as the director general (DG) of the Provincial Institute of Teachers Education (PITE) Sindh in contravention of service rules and orders of the Supreme Court (SC), The News has learnt.

Abdul Majeed Bhurt was originally an employee of the Bureau of Curriculum and Extension Wing. He was initially appointed as a subject specialist and then promoted to the post of deputy director and finally additional director at the same department.

On June 28, 2019, Bhurt was appointed as the executive director of the Sindh Teacher Education Development Authority (STEDA) under the provincial school education department. He was then also assigned the responsibility of the day-to-day affairs of the PITE till the appointment of a regular DG.

However, in a surprise move on January 3, the Sindh government posted Bhurt as the permanent PITE DG against the service rules and apex court order. The SC in an original petition 89/2011 and review petition 193/2013 had declared all the inductions, absorptions and postings of government employees to other departments other than their parent departments as illegal and unconstitutional. The apex court had also directed the Sindh government to repatriate all the government officials to their parent departments at their original positions.

Following the said decision, almost all officers serving in other departments were sent back to their parent departments.

In May 2019, then Sindh chief secretary Mumtaz Ali Shah had repatriated Qamar Shahid Siddiqi, then PITE DG, originally an employee of the special education department in pursuance of the Supreme Court decision. Siddiqi was sent back to his original position of instructor in the special education department.

The PITE was established on December 15, 1999, through a notification of the Sindh education department for the purpose of teachers training.

The method for the appointment of the PITE DG was described in the service rules of the institute, according to which the post of DG had to be filled through a promotion from directors of the institute or by an associate professor having at least 17-year experience in grade 17 or 12-year experience in grade 18 and above in the institute on a seniority-cum-fitness basis.

The same method was also narrated by the education secretary before the Sindh High Court in his comments on a constitutional petition.

The incumbent DG is, however, an outsider, being an employee of another department —Bureau of Curriculum. He also does not fulfil the criteria for the appointment as the PITE DG nor he has any experience in teachers’ training.

Bhurt has also been running the affairs of the institute without approval from the competent forum of the ‘steering committee’ in contravention of institutional scope determined in the PC-1 and the Sindh School Education Standards and Curriculum Act 2014.

The News repeatedly tried to contact Sindh Chief Secretary Muhammad Sohail Rajput and School Education Secretary Akbar Laghari through phone calls and WhatsApp messages for their version but no response came.

When Bhurt was asked about his controversial appointment as the PITE DG, he said the institute was created with the collaboration of the Asian Development Bank and Bureau of Curriculum & Extension Wing, Jamshoro. He said his parent department was the bureau which was responsible for the establishment of the PITE.

Bhurt added that he was appointed in grade 18 as a subject specialist. He explained that the position of subject specialist in the Bureau of Curriculum was not like subject specialists of schools who were only responsible for teaching.

He said the subject specialist in the bureau was an education manager responsible for curriculum development, textbook revision and certification, teachers trainings, assessment and feedback over all teachers’ learning environment in the schools and institutions working under the school education department.

He said that when he was the Board of Curriculum director from 2010 till 2014, all the 45 teachers training institutions across Sindh were working under his administrative control.

He maintained that as a senior officer of Sindh who had the background of teacher education, curriculum development and textbook development, the Sindh government had posted him as the head of various organisations from time to time purely on merit and now he had been posted as the PITE DG.

Bhurt concluded that at the time of his posting in PITE, there was no officer in the organisation working in grade 19 or grade 20 and that was the only reason for his posting under a stop-gap arrangement.