PESHAWAR, Aug 23: Teachers of 93 primary schools in Peshawar have illegally merged their schools to reduce their number and skip duties while keeping the Elementary and Secondary Education (E&SE) Department in the dark.
Additional secretary E&SE Qaisar Alam Khan told Dawn on Friday that the merged primary schools included 51 government schools for boys and 42 government schools for girls located in and outside the provincial capital city.
These schools were located in different circles, including 13 in Cantonment, eight in Chughalpura, 44 in city, five in Daudzai, 15 in Hayatabad, seven in Badhber and one in Mattani.
The official said that the boys’ schools had been merged in the buildings of government schools for boys and same was the case with the girls primary schools. He said that the teachers couldn’t merge the schools without the approval of the education department.
Sources in the education department told this correspondent that following the merger of two or more primary schools in one building the teachers had been performing duties on rotation basis. They said that according to calculation done by the education department, the teachers deputed in these schools had performed duties for just 24 hours in a month. These teachers have mostly received salaries while enjoying life away from the schools, they said and added that the high ups in the secretariat of the E&SE Department were stunned when they came to know about merger of the primary schools.
In this connection, secretary E&SE Joudat Ayat chaired a meeting in the education department and ordered inquiry into the matter. It was also attended by E&SE director Rafiq Khattak, district education officers (male and female) and other officials of the department.
During the meeting the secretary asked the director education to conduct inquiry and take action against the teachers responsible for merging the schools without approval of the department, one of the participants of the meeting told Dawn. The director would also submit a report to the department concerning the primary schools where construction of additional classrooms was needed.
The district education officers (male and female) were directed to rationalise staff in the primary schools. They were asked to submit a report for hiring rented buildings on need basis. Additional secretary Qaiser Alam was tasked to collect any such information from other districts as the merger of schools in other areas of the province could not be ruled out.
In one case the teachers have assembled students of four primary schools for boys in a single school of four classrooms in Yousufabad area on Ring Road, according to an official in the district education office, Peshawar. “Obviously most of the teachers will not perform their duties,” he said.
However, sources in the district education office said that everyone in the district office was aware of the schools merger because of shortage of buildings.
Asked about reasons for this, they said that due to high prices of land, the education department had established schools in rented buildings on need basis.
With the passage of time, owners of the buildings ask the education department to vacate them for not increasing rent according to the market rate, one official said. He said that in such a situation the department used to first acquire other buildings on rent or merge the school into another government school when there was no building available for rent.
He said that schools destroyed by militants had also been merged into the nearby schools as there was no building available in the vicinity.