With ministers of the new Punjab cabinet beginning to take stock of their portfolios with briefings from officials and discussions about reforms, school teachers in the province have called upon Punjab Education Minister Dr Murad Raas to take them on board before making a decision on any major policy reform.
In statement, the Punjab Teachers’ Union (PTU), the representative body of school teachers in Punjab, said the new minister must acknowledge that teachers were the backbone of the education system and were the ones most aware of the ground realities.
Dr Raas has taken charge of the minister’s portfolio and held a meeting with the administrative staff of the Punjab School Education Department (SED) the other day. The meeting included chief executive officers (CEOs) of the District Education Authorities (DEAs) of Lahore division.
In a tweet yesterday, the minister said he had asked all divisional CEOs to highlight three priority issues and recommend solutions for their districts. He added that he would be covering a division a day to take stock of the situation. Dr Raas said the conditions in Lahore division were “horrible”.
Held a meeting with Lahore Division COs. Asked them to bring 3 priority issues and solutions to this meeting regarding their Districts. Calling a Division a day. Also met with Danish School team. Horrible conditions in Lahore Division. Will update soon. pic.twitter.com/QUCcAMXizc
— Murad Raas (@DrMuradPTI) August 29, 2018
Commenting on the meeting, an office bearer of the PTU said taking input from the CEOs would not help the minister make any reforms, as they were the ones responsible for the problems plaguing the schools in Punjab. “They made the previous government chase their tails for 10 years and now they are trying to do the same with the new government. All is not what it seems, the minister should recognize this,” he said.
Another issues that has been making rounds on various groups and forums in the social media is the new government’s policy on transfers. Various teacher groups and pages have been probing whether the new minister would change the policy of transfers or continue with the existing one. The interim government had banned transfers and postings in the wake of general elections, and many genuine requests for transfers have suffered due to the ban.
The debate seems to have reached the new minister as well, who responded to such queries promptly through his Twitter handle. Dr Raas said he was reviewing the policy and it would be updated soon
I would like to let everyone know regarding the Transfers that I am reviewing the Policy. Make no mistake, it will be done soon. Don’t want to do it in a haste. Once it’s finalised, transfers will be opened. Just be a little patient. Doing due diligence for your benefit.
— Murad Raas (@DrMuradPTI) August 29, 2018
During the meeting with SED officials, Dr Murad Raas said holistic reforms would be introduced in the SED and every possible resources would be utilized to secure the future of the youth by providing them quality education. He said, “It has been planned to construct additional classrooms in public sector schools so that educational process of the students does not suffer due to a lack of classrooms.”
The meeting took a detailed review of different issues including dilapidated school buildings, missing facilities, need for construction of additional classrooms to accommodate the rising number of students, grant of additional funds and capacity building of teachers along with new recruitment. The CEOs apprised the minister about their performance, infrastructure issues and other matters relating to the SED in their respective districts.
The minister announced that he would hold public courts at district level to solve issues on the spot. “Similarly, public complaints would now be timely solved through efficient public complaints management system. Public service is our prime objective and the role of SED is very important in the journey of social change in the province,” the minister said.
Dr Raas said special attention would be given to provision of missing facilities in schools, as the goal of quality education cannot be achieved without provision of conducive atmosphere to students. He also directed for the recruitment of sweepers and security guards and issued directions for the assessment of performance and educational qualification of teachers. “We have planned to develop the SED according to international standards so that students can be made future leaders and teachers perform better in classrooms,” he added.
The minister said, “People voted for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) to bring change in the archaic system and we are committed to bringing meaningful change in every sphere of life so that Pakistan can rapidly move towards progress and prosperity”.