PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has been paying salaries to teachers of 2,000 girls’ community schools less than the official minimum wages for the unskilled labour.
The provincial government has last year notified Rs17,500 as minimum wages for the unskilled labour while 3,000 teachers working in the community schools have been getting either get Rs15,000 or Rs14,000 since 2016-17, according to officials of the elementary and secondary education department and teachers of the girls’ community schools.
The government has established 3,000 girls’ community schools across the province through Elementary and Secondary Education Foundation during the last few years.
These educational institutions are meant to enroll out-of-school girls in the areas, which don’t have government primary schools for girls within one kilometre radius. The government hires a woman teacher for every school on a contractual basis and pays her Rs15, 000 or Rs14, 000 a month, while the community provides a two-room building for the school.
The government also provides textbooks and class consumable items including blackboard, white chalk and a chair for the teacher and mats for students.
Officials say teachers of girls’ community schools have not been paid for 20 months
Officials in the elementary and secondary education department told Dawn that performance of the girls’ community schools and enrollment in them were satisfactory. They said that the teachers were also workaholic women and perform their duty efficiently.
They said that most of the teachers of the girls’ community schools had bachelor or master degrees along with professional certificates and degrees in teaching though the required qualification for hiring such teachers was only intermediate.
“I get Rs14,000 monthly salary which is insufficient but I have no other option,” a teacher of one of the girls’ community schools told Dawn.
Wishing not to be named, she said that she was teaching to students of five classes from nursery to 5th grade.
The teacher said that 200 girls were enrolled in the school where she had been teaching for the last three years. “My father is dead and my mother is house wife, my six younger siblings are purely depended on my salary,” she added.
Asked how she managed five classes alone, the teacher said that initially there was also another teacher with her in the same school but she quit the job due to low and late release of salary.
Minister for Elementary and Secondary Education Akbar Ayub Khan was not available for comments.
However, an official of Elementary and Secondary Education Foundation told Dawn that the board of foundation decided on June 16 in its meeting that the salaries of the teachers would be increased to Rs20,000. The meeting of the board was chaired by Education Minister Akbar Ayub Khan.
The official said that the minister also asked the meeting as to why the salaries of the teachers were less than minimum wages for the unskilled labour. He said that the minister directed the board to establish 500 more girls’ community schools in financial year 2020-21.
It is pertinent to mention here the foundation hasn’t paid salaries to the teachers of its more than 600 girls’ community schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for the last 20 months that has caused serious financial problems for the teachers.
The officials said that finance department was not releasing funds for the outstanding salaries despite repeated requests.
Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2020