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Islamabad

October 26, 2018
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Teachers overburdened at understaffed college

Islamabad

October 26, 2018

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Islamabad : Teachers of the only government college for girls in Islamabad’s biggest rural locality are teaching the subjects which they are not qualified for even though the educationists don’t approve of the ‘out-of-field’ teaching due to its adverse impact on student learning.

Complaining of severe staff shortage, the administration of Bhara Kahu’s Islamabad Model College for Girls insists that the teachers are taking classes of the courses outside their field of expertise out of a necessity and not out of choice.

The college, which had become functional in 2016 and caters to the female population of the area inhabited by around 0.3 million people, has around 970 students in FA/FSc and BA/BSc. However, there’re only seven permanent teachers, including principal, who all are ‘borrowed’ from other colleges. They teach English, Political Science, Urdu, Education, Biology, Mathematics and Statistics.

However, the college doesn’t have permanent teachers of the subjects, including Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science, Economics, Civics, Islamic Studies, Health and Physical Education, and Sociology.

To fill teaching gaps, not only has the administration hired 12 newly-graduated women from the area as teachers at low wages on a daily basis using the Student Fund, but it has even tasked some teachers with teaching courses in subjects for which they have no degree, alongside their main subject. The Sociology teachers have been given the additional classes of Home Economics, while a Political Science teacher is taking Pakistan Studies class as well.

These temporary teaching arrangements have overburdened staff members besides compromising the quality of education. Educationists wonder how a teacher could teach two subjects and that, too, those for which they aren’t qualified.

“Academic qualifications are directly related to the teachers’ quality and any compromise on them means compromising the quality of education to the suffering of students,” an educationist told this correspondent.

He disapproved of the ‘out-of-field’ teaching saying if the teachers are told to teach subjects outside their field of qualification or expertise, the practice adversely impacts on student learning.

“The teachers with BEd or similar minor degrees can take classes in schools but when it comes to teaching courses at college level, subject specialisation is a must. Only a Chemistry lecturer can take a Chemistry class, while anyone, who hasn’t a Chemistry degree, he’s not allowed to teach Chemistry to college students,” he said.

A teacher said adhocism had compromised academic standards at the college as the students were struggling to fare well in exams.

“Adhocism has done more harm than good. First, permanent teachers of other colleges were posted to the college without their consent and without being offered special incentives and later, newly-graduated women with no teaching experience were hired on a daily wage basis. All this has negated the very purpose of the college’s opening,” he said.

The teacher also complained about the shortage of non-teaching employees at the college and regretted that the college had got a new bus under Prime Minister Education Reforms but it was of no use as there’s no driver. He insisted that a summary seeking the creation of 34 teaching and 22 non-teaching posts for the college had been caught in bureaucratic red tape since 2016 with the financial division’s finance adviser being more culpable than others.

“A degree college can function smoothly only if it is provided with at least 50 teachers to offer a variety of disciplines but if that can’t happen to the Bhara Kahu college, then the provision of 34 permanent staff members, especially teachers, will significantly ease the misery of its teachers and students,” he said. Professor Tahir Mahmood, a representative of the Federal Government College Teachers Association, regretted staff shortage at the Bhara Kahu college and said students were the ultimate sufferers of the problem.

“We have long been highlighting this serious under-staffing issue as a big hurdle to the promotion of quality education but ironically, the corrective measures haven’t been taken until now. Now, as the education and professional training ministry has been overseeing Islamabad’s education-related affairs since the abolition of the Capital Administration and Development Division, we keep our fingers crossed that the college will get qualified teachers in sufficient numbers before long,” he said.

An official of the Federal Directorate of Education, which has the administrative control of Islamabad’s government schools and colleges, said efforts were underway to get permanent staff members approved for the Bhara Kahu girls college and maybe, good news about it would come out soon.

When asked about the beginning of classes without the provision of own, permanent staff members to the college, he blamed it on ‘political pressure’.

He said if the rules were anything to go by, then educational institutions would become functional only after getting regular teaching and non-teaching employees as sanctioned.

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