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In an apparent violation of merit and rules, the Balochistan Education Department handed over "look-after charge" of several grade-19 posts to officials of grade-17, it emerged on Saturday.

According to the official documents obtained by DawnNews, the provincial authorities have directed all Senior Science Teachers (SSTs), a grade-17 post, to take charge of district education offices — a grade 19 post — in more than 20 districts of Balochistan.

In the recent past, the coalition government in the province had made tall claims regarding imposition of education emergency and ensuring merit in the department. The government had also declared education as compulsory and free for students of the province.

As per a notification issued by the education department, all SSTs have been given look-after charge of district education officers and deputy education officers separately in several districts. The districts include Pishin, Turbat, Killa Abdullah and others.

Similarly, look after charge of director schools, director curriculum and chairman text book board have been given to junior officers in Quetta. The documents also revealed that seven senior officers from grade 18 and 19 of the department were posted as officer on special duty (OSD) — a ceremonial post without any charge.

"Junior officers have been posted on political basis," alleged an officer of the education department who wished not to be named.

He said "blue-eyed junior officers were posted on all key positions in violation of merit and rules".

Balochistan Education Minister Abdul Rahim Ziaratwal was not available for comment despite several attempts, where as the post of top official in the department has been lying vacant for quite some time.

The minister had revealed during the session of the provincial assembly that more than 15,000 teachers in the province could not be traced so far.

Balochistan is lagging behind all other provinces in terms of key social indicators including education. The number of ghost teachers and schools across the province is in thousands.