By Zafar Ahmad
With her successful show at Minar-e-Pakistan, the PTI has been consistent in her rhetoric that it is the agent of change and is on the way to build a ‘Naya Pakistan’. With the rhetoric based on issue politics, the party managed to win KP in 2013 and got the opportunity to prove itself in the laboratory of KP. However, the four years of the PTI government in KP make it evident that the party is no different than its predecessors.
Among the much-boasted claims, one is the so-called Tabdeili in the Elementary and Secondary Education Department. Before elections, the party claimed to introduce a uniform education system, which soon fainted after winning KP.
With coming to power the PTI coalition government introduced the monitoring system to control teachers’ absenteeism. It was expected to be functional; however, soon it became the part of the existing system. Many monitors remain in contact with the teachers as when they will visit.
Teachers have established coordination with each other. An absent teacher leaves a ‘leave application’ with the headmaster/mistress. In case, occasionally, if monitors randomly make a visit the application will be approved and the absent teachers will be on ‘casual leave’ otherwise their attendances will be marked as present by the headmaster/mistress or by other colleague teachers.
A permanent teacher is allowed to have two ‘casual leaves’ a month, but, a majority of the government schoolteachers extend it to as many as they need and as many as they like in many cases. Moreover, if some teachers due to fear ensure their presence, they lack mental presence which is essential for a teacher.
Sweepers have been recruited to every school but this role is still performed by students in the majority of the schools. Furthermore, a teacher is still a traditional teacher whom the students should respect due to the traditional fear associated with the role of teaching. Many teachers still expect and ask students to perform their domestic works like grass cutting, wheat cutting, and thrashing etc.
Most importantly, the teaching methodology is the same decades old traditional one. There is hardly a concept of teachers’ training and teachers’ appraisal system. The new NTS appointees though well-qualified teachers too soon become the part of the existing system. The same teachers who deliver well in private schools for subsistent salaries become lazy when they enter the public institutions.
Our government teachers have many roles to play. A teacher is a community leader, a politician, a businessman, a stakeholder in a number of projects and in many cases a contractor along with his profession as a school teacher. He/she is very active and sincere with his/her multiple roles except with his role as a teacher for which he enjoys respect and handsome salary for doing literally too little. Ironically, the public response towards the images of the government schools and teachers has recently become very positive, which helped in enhancing the enrolment rate in government schools. This relatively positive image is reasonably built due to the teachers’ recruitment through NTS, the only thing which the PTI government could claim to introduce any change. No doubt through relatively fair NTS well-qualified teachers were selected but due to the absence of a proper system, the new teachers soon become the part of the same old traditional system. Due to the lack of accountability, teachers’ training and appraisal systems, the talents of the young teachers remain unutilized. Hence, school environment and teachings are the same what it has been for decades. If only filling vacancies through NTS in the buildings built by ANP is ‘Educational Reform’, then, congratulations the ‘Naya KP’ has been built and ‘Naya Pakistan’ is in the pipeline to be built. Otherwise, we are living in the same old KP and will remain in the same old Pakistan. The worst results of government schools in all the boards of elementary and secondary education in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has badly exposed the false claims of the PTI for bringing the revolution in the education sector.
Same goes with the ‘health’ and ‘police’ reforms’. To bring health reforms lots of medical officers and nurses were appointed through Public Service Commission. To discourage private practices of doctors and improve the dealings of staffs with the patients, the doctors and nurses are being given handsome allowances thus making the salaries well above double. However, like the reforms in elementary and secondary education, these steps have not been successful in creating any substantial changes. The dealings of the doctors and other hospital staffs are the same with patients which used to be. No new hospitals have been built not even the existing facilities in hospitals have been increased. To cap it all doctors are still in the mood to strike despite the unprecedentedly high pay, this time for ‘service scales’.
Similar is the case with the much boasted the ‘police reforms. Again recruitment through NTS and increasing packages for the police are named as police reforms. Of course, the KP police is comparatively better than those of Islamabad and Punjab police but it is not due to the reforms which the PTI claims to have brought rather it is because of the cherished traditions of the province.
In short, the PTI coalition government has not been able to bring the claimed reforms. Jobs creation and recruitment in a bit fairer way might reduce the frustrations of the unemployed youths and their parents, which may also improve the impression about the government which, of course, has happened but it cannot be called as sustainable reforms. Perhaps, we public are equally responsible for failing any aspired changes. Perhaps, the problem lies in our individual personalities rooted in our culture and the social system and in our socialization systems, which teaches us selfishness. We all want better jobs, job security, high packages, more power, and luxuries but no accountability and responsibility. We all want jobs in public institutions but services from private institutions. We like jobs in government schools but prefer to educate our kids from private schools. Likewise, doctors serve in government hospitals but would never like to have treatments in the same hospitals where they themselves are employed. Indeed, changing our attitudes is a very difficult task if not impossible which we all need to accept and which the PTI needs to acknowledge that no ‘Naya KP’ is being built and stop giving false hopes of ‘Naya Pakistan’.
By Zafar Ahmad