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RAWALPINDI: The Education Department Rawalpindi is in a fix over the achievement of Universal Primary Education (UPE) target for enrolment by October 31 as 15 eligible officers have declined to accept the responsibility of assistant education officers (AEO) to monitor the campaign.

Under the UPE campaign, the education department is supposed to get 120,000 out of school children enrolled in government-run schools by October 31.

However, when the education department tried to fill 15 vacant positions of AEOs, secondary schoolteachers with five years of mandatory experience refused to take the responsibility.

As a stop gap arrangement, the department in clear violation of set rules a few days ago appointed 15 junior teachers but four of them also refused to join their new posts.

Executive District Officer (education) Qazi Zahoorul Haq said: “I violated the rules because I was unable to carry out the UPE campaign without AEOs, and I appointed junior teachers just for a few months to achieve the enrollment target.”

When asked how a junior could fill the gap of senior instructors, he said: “No doubt without the permanent and eligible AEOs, we cannot achieve the targets of enrollment by October 31, which is the deadline, but we are doing whatever we can do.”

To another question, he replied that for 50 centres the department had 35 senior AEOs.

However, a source said the EDO had succumbed to political pressure and spared those eligible AEOs who refused to take responsibility and appointed junior teachers in their place.

When asked why he didn’t initiate departmental action against those who refused to take the responsibility, the EDO said: “Since we are running an enrollment campaign and have to get 120,000 out of school children enrolled by October 31, we don’t want to indulge in any proceedings against these ‘rebels’.”

The source said that two posts of AEO female in Murree, one each in Rawalpindi and Gujar Khan were vacant as neither senior nor junior instructors were willing to join.

The EDO accepted that these posts were vacant; however, he added that within the next few days his office would fill the positions.

Published in Dawn, May 31th, 2014