PESHAWAR: More than 55,000 students enrolled in 1,447 community schools in different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are likely to drop out as government has failed to pay salaries to their teachers during the last two years, according to sources.

They told this scribe that 1,531 teachers, both male and female, had been serving in community schools for the last many years. However, the government had not paid salaries to 878 teachers since July 2021 and to 653 others since March 2023.

Sources said that the teachers, who mostly had bachelors degree, were getting only Rs21,000 monthly salary, which was less than the minim wage of Rs25,000 fixed by the provincial government for unskilled labourers.

A senior official in the education department said that the teachers threatened to quit the jobs if their salaries were not paid as soon as possible.

Teachers not paid salaries for two years

He added that it would deprive 55,000 students, both girls and boys, of education.

Currently, these community schools are operating under the supervision of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Elementary and Secondary Education Foundation. Initially these schools were run by Basic Education Community Schools and National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) centers of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and then handed over to education department few years ago.

The official said that government had approved a PC-I of Rs1 billion for a period of two years for salaries of teachers and other expenditures when the schools were handed over to education department. As per the PC-I, Rs518 million were required for financial year 2021-22. However, despite many request by Elementary and Secondary Education Foundation (ESEF), the finance department released only Rs241.27 million of the allocated Rs518 million, he added.

Ironically, the official said, Rs241.27 million was released on May 23, 2022 just one month before the end of the financial year but it was abruptly frozen by the previous Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government before its utilisation.

He said that on the repeated requests of ESEF, finally the finance department unfroze the fund a week before the end of the financial year 2021-22. He said that ESEF utilised Rs153.9 million in one week while the rest of the fund was lapsed.

“Now we need Rs518.2 million to pay salaries to the teachers, who have been waiting for it for the last two years,” said the official.

An educationist working on a responsible position in education department said that on the one hand the provincial government was spending millions of rupees on media campaign in the ongoing enrolment campaign while on the other it was likely lose thousands of students for not paying salaries to their teachers.

He said that the ground verification of schools was conducted by the elementary and secondary education department when those were handed over to ESEF. The second verification was done by the Education Monitoring Authority and the third by ESEF, he added.

He said that online data minimised the chance of ghost teachers in those schools. “The ESEF has also completed digital profiling of all the 55,000 students,” he added.

The adviser to chief minister on elementary and secondary education department, Rehmat Salam Khattak, when contacted confirmed non-payment of salaries to teachers of community schools. “Today (Wednesday), I brought this issue into the notice of the caretaker chief minister and we are trying to release salaries to them,” he added.

Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2023

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