Last week, Elementary Education Foundation Peshawar announced extension in Iqra Farooghe Taleem Voucher Scheme initiated by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government in 2015 to enroll out-of-school children. Under the plan, a total of 40,000 private school students will be enrolled in the areas where there is no public school.
The Punjab government announced that it would introduce Smart Interactive Digital System in 2,000 public schools to improve the learning outcomes of students by making the learning process more interactive and interesting.
Another noteworthy step of the Punjab government is the introduction of connecting classroom programme (a joint programme of Directorate of Staff Development and British Council). This programme aims to improve education quality in the province. Under this programme, classrooms will be connected with international schools through internet.
Another important announcement of the week was the construction of 10,000 classrooms across the Punjab. The chief minister has announced the construction of new classrooms under Khadim-e-Punjab Schools Programme.
Balochistan government also announced that it would construct 725 new schools in Balochistan at a cost of Rs 3 billion. The director of Balochistan Education Project has said that Royal Time Monitoring System in public schools will be introduced to provide access to information to district education officers and deputy commissioners.
To improve transparency and accountability, Punjab Education Foundation also decided to start third party evaluation of Public School Support Programme (PSSP). Last week, the Punjab government also announced that it would start “Outsource Literacy Project” in the province and 200 literacy centers will be established under this project.
Another important decision of the provincial government is to start SMS-based Intelligent Tutoring System (ITS) in public schools. The basic purpose of this project is to facilitate the students, who require additional coaching and guidance. Two programmes will take this ITS forward.
Last week, teachers staged protest demonstrations against the government for the acceptance of their rights. Teachers’ Association, Balochistan Professors and Lecturers Association, Grand Teachers Alliance Punjab (GTAP), Teachers of Balochistan Residential College and teachers of Federal Model Colleges were on strike in their respective areas.
They were demanding increase in their salaries and promotions in next grades. They were also demanding that basic pay scale 14 should be given to PTC teachers, 16 to EST and 17 to SST teachers. In the Punjab, teachers also protested the government decision to privatize the public schools. Teachers of Residential College Loralai were demanding increment in their salaries.
In Rawalpindi, teachers demanded of the authorities to release the Hill Allowance of more than 1500 teachers.
Teachers of Islamabad Model Colleges said they would continue the boycott of classes and protest till their demands are not met. Their strike has caused severe unrest among the students and parents, as it has disturbed all the educational activities in schools. Their demands include regularization of scales, promotions of teaching and non-teaching staff, amendments in existing promotion formula, creation of new posts, merit-based postings and transfers of officials and salary release of daily-wage teachers. Their protest has compelled the government to hold transfers of 300 school heads, teachers and in-charge head teachers. Meanwhile, Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) has notified the promotion of nine more teachers of model schools.
“CADD has sent a requisition to Finance Ministry to pay the salary arrears of teachers and issued a notice to the ministry to raise the minimum salary limit, i.e. Rs 14,000 per month,” reported daily Express.
Daily DAWN reported another case of Punjab Literacy Department, where 650 teachers have not been receiving their salaries for the last four years. These teachers were recruited for a non-formal education project namely Taleem Sub Kay Lye (TSKL) at a monthly stipend of Rs 5,000.
Apart from the protests and strikes, there is a shortage of 2,478 teachers and 101 Assistant Education Officers (AEOs) in Sialkot district, reported daily The Nation.
On their good performance as reported by an independent monitoring unit, 84 school heads and teachers received incentives at a function held at government high school. A total of Rs5.4 million was distributed among good performers. KPK Finance Minister Muzaffar Said, speaking at a function, said that the IMU, biometric system and teachers’ incentivization have helped improve the quality of education in KP.
To promote vocational training among the youth and produce skilled labour force in the country, Chairman of National Vocational and Technical Education Commission (NAVTEC) said that 100,000 youngsters would be imparted technical education and trainings annually. Daily The Express Tribune reported about the completion of vocational courses by 1000 girls in Karachi.
Another protest that hit the newspaper headlines and TV screens was the strike by Bahauddin Zakariya University (BZU) students in Multan. They were protesting against delay in getting their degrees. Later on, they were assured by the vice-chancellor that the students of Lahore campus will receive degree soon.