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Plea to exempt teachers from other duties

August 30, 2013
— File photo
— File photo

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court was requested on Thursday to order federal and provincial governments to do away with the practice of assigning elementary schoolteachers tasks other than imparting education like performing election duties and administering polio drops.

In his petition, Raja Saimul Haq Satti, an advocate, said that engaging teachers in different national campaigns was not only tantamount to disgracing their community but also creating hardships for students and affecting the quality of education.

He said the 2011 matriculation results had exposed the Punjab government’s claim of doing a lot for the promotion of education since no student of any government school was able to get one of the top 13 positions. The government through the education secretary, health ministry, Election Commission and provincial education secretaries have been made respondents in the petition.

The petitioner said government schools were already facing shortage of teachers, adding that most teachers were reluctant to accept postings in far-flung rural areas.

“The situation is having an adverse impact on the quality of education in government schools whereas education departments are helpless in the face of political patronising of teachers,” the petitioner regretted.

The Annual Status of Education Report Pakistan Survey 1010-15 highlights gaps in the quality of education for children aged four to 16 at the district level. “The survey is a mirror for the government and citizens to track implementation and its challenges,” the petition said.

Mr Satti said that existing laws — the Islamabad Capital Territory Compulsory Primary Education Ordinance 2002 and the Punjab Compulsory Primary Education Act 1994 — were inadequate and flawed since these had failed to achieve their objectives. The two laws were applicable only to the primary education whereas article 25-A of the constitution called for free and compulsory education for children aged between five and 16, he added.

“The acts or omissions of the respondents are discriminatory, unwarranted, unconstitutional and illegal and by no stretch of imagination the elementary schoolteachers should be burdened with any other additional adventures other than imparting education to innocent children,” the petition said.

The petitioner requested for early legislation similar to the one introduced by the Indian government in the form of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009.