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Shahid Anwar |

A former Secretary of the Higher Education Department Punjab (HEDP) said that the period required for promotion of BS-17 lecturer to the post of the assistant professor had been reduced from 22 years to 17 years. This statement speaks volumes about dismal service structure of Education Department. It implies that any young lecturer joining the department need to wait for 17 years for first step promotion.

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How can the Education Department attract bright and brilliant young men and women, given this state of upward mobility? And, how those who still join, can maintain their motivation with such remote possibility of promotion?

Correlation between good teachers and quality education

Before looking for answers to these questions, let me make an observation that central purpose of education department is to provide good quality education to around seven to eight lakh students enrolled in public sector colleges of the Punjab. The task of quality education can’t be achieved without good teachers. So, selecting good teachers, giving them appropriate training and providing fair chance for advancement in career are undeniable prerequisites for a good performance.

Every selected teacher must undergo a rigorous training for 6 to 9 months before starting actual teaching. However, the duration of training and the courses can be decided after consultation with experts.

Beginning with the existing recruitment procedure, it has simply no mechanism to test a candidate’s aptitude for teaching. Resultantly, many job-seekers, non-teachers (by temperament)  join the education profession. Obviously, such uninterested “teachers” cannot inspire, guide and educate the youth.  We can learn from successful experiences of others. For example, Finland Phenomenon—tells a lot about Finland’s outstanding performance in education.  They mainly focused on selection of genuine teachers and their rigorous training.

In a sharp contrast, we have no mechanism for appropriate selection and no mandatory pre-job training. Interestingly, the non-professional bureaucrats (trained as jack of all trades) perhaps consider teaching as an extremely unskilled job; anyone without any training can teach. In fact, training is required to inculcate professional orientation, effective teaching methodology, and also for familiarity with rules and regulations is crucial. In absence of any such training, fresh entrants are left to learn tricks of the trade from seniors and peers. And most frequently available advice they get is: do minimal necessary work just to get the salary.

Upward mobility for teacher

A few who don’t subscribe the conventional wisdom and stay committed find it really hard to maintain their resolve for long, when they see little chance for upward mobility. Notwithstanding any kind of hard work and devotion, the first-ever-promotion has to come after 18-20 years in any case. It means spending the most productive years of one’s life with remote possibility of promotion.  So, by design the department can neither attract nor keep the best and bright. No wonder if the most use it as stopgap until they found greener pastures. Those who stay usually take it as part-time occupation.

How can the Education Department attract bright and brilliant young men and women, given this state of upward mobility? And, how those who still join, can maintain their motivation with such remote possibility of promotion?

In the absence of time-scale for promotion, there is a complex numeric scheme called 4-tier formula.  A relatively better pace of promotions, under this formula, depends on many factors like: regular recruitment, updated seniority lists, and regular calculus of available posts. The department, however, in practice, makes this formula dysfunctional by making contract appointments (instead of regular appointments through PPSC), hiring teachers as College Teacher Interns (CTIs) for the academic session, and by not updating seniority lists. All such ad-hoc appointments and inaction have  adverse impacts on the promotion structure. So,the teachers in the college sector should be given a reasonable promotion-time-scale.

The out-dated seniority lists

In addition, the out-dated seniority lists and certain dichotomies between rules and practices make things more complicated and absolutely unfair.  The seniority lists are hardly updated regularly, despite the fact that the department continues to gather online data from the colleges too often.  In principle, the preparation and presentation of the promotion cases is the duty of the administrative offices but in practice the whole burden is shifted to the teachers concerned. Quite unfairly and illegally, the teachers are expected to produce their “confidential” evaluation reports and they are made to suffer for the lapses of administration.

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For instance, as per rules, a teacher is under no obligation to ensure whether his evaluation report has been written, countersigned and kept safely by the custodians. But, in practice, teachers are virtually asked to provide their ACRs, at the time of promotion. Another example of shifting responsibility,  according to the rules recommendations for promotion remain valid for one year; it implies that if department fails to issue posting orders within this timeframe the recommended teachers will suffer. Does it make any sense to punish a person for the failure of the department which is supposed to issue posting orders?

Things can improve, but only if the government restructures the department, and stops defying the fundamental principles of public management. Without provision of resources there can be no expectations of performance. In this regards, a fair chance of upward mobility, capacity building through training, and reasonable salary packages are not the luxurious demands but essential requirements.

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Furthermore, the government should make a procedure to select good teachers and establish a teachers training academy. Every selected teacher must undergo a rigorous training for 6 to 9 months before starting actual teaching. However, the duration of training and the courses can be decided after consultation with experts.

To conclude, the HEDP can only improve the standards of education if it can hire, train and retain good teachers. However, the current policies and practices of recruitment, training and promotion are quite unhelpful in this regard.

Shahid Anwar is a social and political analyst based in Islamabad. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

4 COMMENTS

  1. The system of promotion shall be revised and their should be a body to check the performances and according to the ACRS of the employee must be promoted accordingly on merits.

  2. You need a bachelor qualification to appear in CSS exams and become a “bureaucrat” or start your legal practice which may lead to joining judiciary; or to start your own medical practice; a year 10/12 qualification to join army, air force or Navy. Minimum qualification for teaching staff is a Masters degree, though now it is meant for an entry level position. All those in the above services get promoted way early compared to academics, and that says a lot about a system that devalues teaching community. Academic community is one of the largest among all services perhaps bigger than the personnel in the combined defence forces, they need to lobby and push for better service structure OR nothing will change.

  3. The author has highlighted a very neglected but a very important area of our education system. Though he has downsized a much bigger issue of devaluing both education and educator in our society only to promotion and merit based selection of teachers but still I am happy that somebody has raised the issue on media. I believe that we do not give respect to teachers and teaching because we we don’t give priority to education. The day we realized the importance of properly educating our children, we would see a proper and merit based selection of teachers, a regularized and respectable service structure for them and a logical promotion order for educators.

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