ISLAMABAD: As the schools in Islamabad undergo renovations to improve the educational standards in the government-run institutions in the capital, the teachers have urged the education ministry to pay heed to their concerns as well, citing financial hardship and administrative neglect.

According to the teachers, a number of them were regularised last year but the account officers at their schools were not accepting their applications for the hiring of houses. On the other hand, those who have obtained the facility of the house allowance are also in a fix as the government is not paying the rent to their house owners. The teachers also complained of financial hardships and administrative neglect, saying it was their primary grievance.

One of the teachers, wishing not to be quoted, said schools across the capital city were indeed undergoing significant makeovers, with modernised classrooms and updated facilities, aimed at creating a better learning environment for students.

“However, these physical upgrades alone are insufficient to uplift the standard of education. The most crucial element in this equation is the teacher, whose welfare and professional growth are currently being overlooked. These concerns include pending payments of house rental ceiling, delayed grants of time scales, implementation of time scales retroactively rather than from the due date, and an outdated promotion structure,” he said.

Educators cite financial hardship, administrative neglect

An assistant professor at Islamabad Model Postgraduate College H-8, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, highlighted the severity of the situation, stating, “My house owner has not been paid the house rental ceiling for the last over two years, which is the responsibility of the government. I have been paying the rental ceiling to my house owner directly from my own pocket by taking loans. If I don’t, I risk eviction by the landlord. Under such circumstances, how can I deliver effectively in the classroom?

“The education ministry does not hold meetings of the departmental promotion committee (DPC) in a timely manner. My time scale was due in 2021, but the ministry delayed the meeting of the DPC. In a meeting held this January (2024), I was granted the time scale with immediate effect instead of 2021…which is an injustice. As a result, I lost three increments in my pay,” another associate professor said.

A lecturer at the Islamabad Model College for Boys H-9 highlighted a significant disparity between the service structures of federal and provincial teachers, emphasising the “4-tier formula” that governed promotions. He pointed out that provinces such as Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and Sindh improved their 4-tier formulas in 2012 to accelerate the promotion process for their teachers.

“In contrast, the federal government did not revise the 4-tier formula, which has resulted in significantly slower career progression compared to our provincial counterparts,” he said, urging the education ministry to address the issues promptly to ensure equitable career opportunities and parity with provincial educational systems. “When teachers are satisfied and their concerns are addressed, it directly impacts student satisfaction and educational outcomes,” he claimed.

A teacher at Islamabad Model College for Girls (Postgraduate) F-7/4 said: “In addition to teaching responsibilities, we’re often burdened with non-teaching duties that impede our ability to focus on classroom instruction. Moreover, some of us have been compelled to teach subjects outside our expertise due to staff shortages, which compromises educational quality. We are burdened with extra work while our core concerns are sidelined by the administration.”

While acknowledging the education ministry’s dedication to improving school infrastructure, teachers have stressed that true educational enhancement requires parallel attention to their financial and professional well being.

Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2024

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