A ghost of a problem?

Published July 12, 2016

“There is not a single ghost school in Punjab. That is out of question. Ghost teachers and ghost schools are not an issue in Punjab,” says a senior official in charge of monitoring.

Former president and General Pervez Musharraf once said that “there are between 30 and 40,000 ghost schools, amounting to 20 percent of all schools.”

According to Khalid Khattak, an investigative reporter on education, “Punjab doesn’t have a ghost teacher problem like it used to. It’s because of the monitoring system put in place. They are also taking disciplinary action against teachers who do not show up.”

“Punjab has fired many teachers,” says Khattak, “We keep hearing complaints from teachers’ associations.”

KP has instituted the same system. According to Education Minister Atif Khan, “The problem of teachers collecting salaries but actually doing business in Dubai or other jobs has – I won’t say 100% but maybe 99% - been solved.” Sindh and Balochistan have also removed thousands of ghost teachers from the payrolls.

Ghost teachers are relatively easy to get rid of, as long as they are really ‘ghosts.’ A bigger problem is teachers who are simply absent a lot, and therefore still around to put up a fight if their jobs are threatened. They are also represented by teachers’ unions.

Absentee rates plummet when monitoring is introduced. Punjab has brought down its absenteeism rate from 20 per cent in 2010 to six per cent today. KP’s is down from 30 per cent in March 2015 when monitoring started to 13 per cent today.

Published in Dawn, July 12th, 2016

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