The rationalization policy of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government is yet to be implemented in the education sector of newly merged districts (NMDs) despite the passage of several years.
Talking to The Express Tribune official sources said that the provincial government has introduced a policy of one teacher for 40 students in its schools across K-P and this policy should have been applied to the NMDs after their merger with the province.
“The rationalization policy is yet to be applied on schools in any of the tribal districts which is really unfortunate,” said an official, adding that after the introduction of this policy by the previous provincial government new hiring had been done to overcome the shortage of teachers in schools.
“Since the May 2018 merger we are waiting for this policy to be fully implemented. Bajaur is the largest district as far as population is concerned. The enrolment is much higher here as compared to other districts,” he said.
When contacted Assistant District Education Officer (ADEO) Bajaur Haji Muhammad Nazir Mullah Khel said that there were 268,000 students in Bajaur schools out of which 153,000 were enrolled in public sector schools.
He maintained that there were 15,000 students in religious seminaries while over 80,000 students were enrolled in private schools.
“There are over 6,000 students in National Commission for Human Development Schools and another 8,000 in Basic Community Schools. Around 6,000 were enrolled in Literacy Project,” he added.
The teacher-to-student ratio is not aligned with the rationalization policy of the K-P government and in most primary schools there are more students than the capacity of the buildings or compared to available students.
“There are five primary schools where students are more than the original capacity with fewer teachers.
“For instance there are three teachers in Government Primary School Zagai for 1,200 students. Recently four teachers have been recruited on control while the total requirement is for 30 teachers in total,” said the official.
By the same token, there are 800 students in Govt Primary School Lowi Kharkay but permanent schoolteachers are just two and six teachers are working on contract.
A total of 20 teachers are required for the school.
Similarly, there are 800 students in the Govt Primary School Lagharzai and just three permanent teachers. Another three are working on contract.
The Govt Primary School Zaray Mamand has three teachers for 450 students in which two are permanent and one is contract based.
Same is the situation in Govt Primary School Tarkho as there are two regular and one contract teacher for 550 students. This school needs 14 teachers.
“Similar situation is faced by almost all schools albeit on a lower scale as there are more students and fewer teachers,” the official noted.
When contacted District Education Officer (DEO) Bajaur Arbab Shireenzada said that there was a shortage of 1,768 teachers in the district under the rationalization policy and they had sent a proposal to the directorate.
“We have recruited 814 teachers for the time being on contract basis to address the issue,” he said, admitting that enrolment was on the rise in the district.
A local school teacher said that they were facing difficulties because of the large number of students in each class. Not only are there less teachers but also less classrooms in schools.
“Government should construct more and more class rooms to accommodate all students,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2022.