PESHAWAR: Hundreds of teachers of government primary schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have opted for premature retirement over inability to teach their respective subjects in the English language and many more have applied for it.

Officials of the elementary and secondary education department attribute the development to the change of the medium of instruction from Urdu to English language around four years ago and the department’s initiatives for educational quality enhancement in the last one year.

They told Dawn that more and more teachers had been taking premature retirement since the medium of instruction was changed and other reforms were introduced.

The officials said until recently, the premature retirement was rare among teachers of government primary schools.

Official calls development good, saying young, highly-qualified teachers will succeed retirees

They said when the education department took initiatives for quality improvement and began holding teacher accountable for their performance, they opted to avail themselves of the facility of retiring before attaining the age of superannuation of 60 years.

The officials said the education department had taken several steps for quality enhancement, including launching of school quality management initiative, monthly induction training to resolve problems of teachers, marking of professional development day on a monthly basis, and orders for teachers to prepare lesson plans before entering classrooms.

They said the teachers opting for premature retirement were mostly appointed in 1980s and early 1990s with matriculation or intermediate qualifications.

“Now, a candidate with graduation degree can apply for the posts of teachers in government primary schools as the education department has enhanced the minimum qualification,” an official said.

He said the secretariat of the elementary and secondary education department hadn’t compiled the data of the teachers opting for premature retirement across the province as it was handled by the district education offices.

Officials in Peshawar district education office told Dawn that they received more than 100 early retirement applications every month from the teachers of primary schools in the district.

They said the ratio of premature retirement was much higher among male teachers than female ones.

The officials said previously, such cases were rare.

They said things were worse in the recently merged tribal districts than other districts of the province.

A Kurram district resident, whose wife teaches in a government school, said since the medium of instruction was changed, he had been teaching the lessons in the English language to his wife, who later delivered it to her students.

“It is unimaginable for the teachers of government schools with matriculation degree to teach subjects like mathematics, general science and general knowledge in the English language,” a primary school teacher told Dawn.

He said the English language had become a bother for such teachers.

The teacher said after the medium of instruction was changed from Urdu to the English language, teachers of primary schools could hardly teach three chapters of the general science subject.

“The lessons already taught in the class were beyond the comprehension of the students as they couldn’t grasp the lecture of teachers with poor educational qualifications,” he said.

Around a year ago, the British Council and education department jointly spent around Rs1 billion on held training sessions for teachers across the province on the English language.

The teacher said such trainings couldn’t prepare teachers to teach subjects in the English language as they were less qualified and even didn’t understand the basics of English language.

“Being a teacher, I have observed that teachers showed less or no interest in the training sessions in the subjects written in English,” he said.

The teacher said usually, teachers participated in the training session on other subjects with zeal asking questions but as for training on subjects in the English language, they didn’t ask any questions or didn’t participate in the discussion at all for being unable to understand that language.

“It is good for students that poorly-qualified teachers leaving schools as they would be replaced by the young, highly-qualified ones,” a senior official of the education department told Dawn.

Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2019