by Khalid Hashmani, McLean, Virginia, USA
In my view, it is good that the Sindh Education Minister has warned the teachers of government schools to fulfill their responsibilities and improve their performance. However, to rebuilt and ensure quality in Sindh’s schools, we would need to hold every one responsible including the Sindh Education Minister himself.
I am sure if the political party in power is courageous enough to take all necessary actions to improve education system in Sindh, particularly in rural areas, where only the government schools exist. I believe that actions that are required are as follows:
1. Eradication of corruption, nepotism, and influence paddling in the Sindh Education department. All recruitment and teacher performance evaluation processes should be transparent to public. The Minister himself should openly commit to achieve measurable targets by certain deadlines and pledge to resign if he cannot achieve them by those dates.
2. The department should withstand any pressure from political groups and leaders including those from the leaders of PPP and MQM to ensure fairness in all aspects of the education department.
3. A campaign needs to be launched in Sindh rural areas to awaken rural people and show them the economic benefits that their families would gain from sending their children to schools and performing their parental duties to motivate their children to excel in their school work. Sindhi NGOs should play a leading role in this Education Awakening Campaign.
4. Before threatening to privatize schools, the Sindh Education department must clearly institute an open and transparent process to evaluate performance of teachers and establish a minimal criteria. The government should fire those teachers who do not meet or perform as required by the minimal criteria. Notice the news item below forwarded by you about the firing of 790 teachers in Punjab for non-performance.
5,. One of the serious drawbacks of the privatization of schools has been that a majority of these schools tend to be run by non-Sindhi and/or religious organizations. These organization openly defy the language laws of Sindh and do not teach Sindhi language to their students. I am told that many affluent Sindhi parents send their children to private schools in Karachi, Hyderabad, and other major cities of Sindh. However, these students are not taught Sindhi language adequately. The government should monitor the teaching of Sindhi language in private schools and ensure that Sindhi is compulsorily taught in accordance with the laws.
6. The Sindh Education department should institute student incentive programs that recognize top performing students and provide financial help, where income of their parents is low.
7. Sindhi journalists and NGOs should play their roles of being watch dogs on the performance of the Government Minister, department administrative staff, teachers, students, and parents.
8. The political party in power should bring about pressure on their “wadera” leaders to facilitate promotion of education in their areas. Those who resist or create obstacle in achieving educational progress should be removed from the party.
In conclusion, I would say that without drastic steps as proposed above, simply giving speeches to gatherings is like paying just lip service to the cause of education in Sindh.