July 27, 2022
By Rehan Piracha
LAHORE: Government schools in Punjab are facing a shortage of 90,000 teachers ahead of the start of the new academic year in August, say reports. This would translate into quite a disaster for millions of students who are already burdened with a variety of basic problems.
Rana Liaqat Ali, general secretary of Punjab Teachers Union, said the vacancies of teachers in government schools in the province have jumped from 30,000 to 90,000 in the last four years. He said around 30,000 to 40,000 new teachers were required in the province if calculated on the basis of students to teachers ratio. “The figure of teachers’ shortage will swell to 60,000 on the basis of schools to teachers ratio,” he added.
The PTU general secretary blamed successive provincial governments for not recruiting teachers for thousands of vacant posts of elementary, primary and secondary schoolteachers as well as subject specialists and headmasters in hundreds of schools across the province.
According to Punjab annual school census 2020-21, there were 81,966 teacher vacancies in the Punjab Education Department. “The vacancies have jumped to 90,000 till 2022 due to retirement and promotions of teachers,” Rana Liaqat Ali said.
In order to fill the vacancies, former education minister Murad Ras had announced recruitment of 30,000 teachers in two phases. The minister had moved a summary for recruitment of 16,000 teachers in the first phase but the process stalled with the change of the provincial government in April.
After the removal of the PTI government, the PML-N government also did not begin the work for recruiting the 16,000 teachers, Rana Liaqat Ali said. “Political instability during the past two months did not give time to the government to start the process,” he added.
According to Khalid Khattak, a senior education reporter with The News paper, said that successive governments have put recruitment of teachers on the back burner. “The shortage of teachers and falling standard of education in public schools have forced parents to send their children to private schools across the province,” he told Voicepk.net.
The provincial governments have spent billions of rupees on mega projects like the metro bus and rail transit systems but have chosen to ignore the education department, leaving parents at the mercy of private schools that charge hefty fees, Khalid Khattak said.
Statistics from the annual school census point out that around half of sanctioned posts of had masters and principals are vacant in schools across the province. Out of the 7,707 sanctioned posts of headmasters and principals, 3,926 posts were vacant. Similarly, 5118 posts of subject specialists were vacant in schools.
The highest number of vacancies related to primary school teachers. Out of the total sanctioned posts of 251, 308, there is a vacancy of 44, 821 primary school teachers in Punjab. Around 20,863 posts of elementary schoolteachers were vacant in government schools. The number of vacant posts of secondary schoolteachers is 6,631, according to the annual school census 2021.
Rana Liaqat Ali, general secretary of Punjab Teachers Union, called on the new provincial government led by Punjab Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi to immediately begin the recruitment of 16,000 schoolteachers in the province. He said the students of government schools would be affected because of the severe shortage of teachers.