THE incumbent prime minister recently announced the imposition of ‘education emergency’ across the country. I wonder if somebody has told the prime minister that the education mafia in the country will itself defeat the initiative. And I have reasons for being pessimistic. What I recently experienced should be an eye-opener for the policymakers.

On May 10, during the matriculation examination of the Nawabshah Board, I was serving as a supervisory teacher. An hour into the paper, to ensure the decorum of the examination hall, I had to take away answer sheets from those who were disturbing other candidates with their constant chatter. As soon as I did that, a high school teacher entered the hall, despite having no authority to interfere in the duty of a supervisor. He violently snatched the answer sheets from my hand while pushing, abusing and threatening me in front of all the students.

Refraining from engaging in a scuffle, I went to inform the headmaster about the episode. He took me back to the same class, lectured the students about the sanctity of the classroom, and asked me to carry on with my assignment. The culprit was simply advised to move out to the headmaster’s office.

Even with my self-respect in tatters, I continued with the task, hoping to have a word with the school administration once the exam was over. However, no action was taken against the intruder. No apology was tendered to me. Instead, I was asked by other staff members to let the influential candidates do whatever they wanted to. I felt frustrated and humiliated. There were some who actually praised the aggressive behaviour of the teacher concerned.

With this incident, which by no means was an isolated one, do we need to bring in more students in such schools? Should we have more children in schools where goons barge into exam halls and facilitate the influential students using unfair means?

Writing these line, the thought did cross my mind that I may very well be made a scapegoat. After all, I am only a junior elementary school teacher appointed in August 2022. With hardly two years in service, I cannot fight the elements that do not fear even their headmasters. I shudder at the thought of losing my job in these hyperinflationary times, but, if the worst does happen, I will know that I tried to expose toxic elements within the education system. Let us see how it goes.

Taha Muneer
Nawabshah

Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2024

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