#No more ghosts: Facebook campaign sparks revolution in education sector

By Sameer Mandhro

SINDH – KARACHI: What the Sindh government could not do with all its resources and powers, a few concerned individuals have managed to accomplish with a little spark of ingenuity and the help of modern technology.

The campaign against ‘ghost teachers’ that has gone viral on Facebook since it started last month has sparked a kind of revolution in the provincial education sector. The campaign has by now exposed hundreds of prominent figures, including journalists, political and social activists and nationalists who were drawing salaries from public schools but never bothered to attend even once.

The campaign

The major focus of the campaign was on those affiliated with the media. TV channel and newspaper owners were urged to take action against such journalists who were ruining the futures of hundreds of children.
A month on, the campaign has attracted the attention of almost 30 groups of individuals who collect data, including pictures of ‘ghost teachers’ from different areas and share the information on the page under the inscription, ‘He is also a ghost teacher’. The data is then viewed and shared by those subscribed to the page. The remarkable success of the campaign can be gauged from the fact that people from all over Sindh have started posting information on ‘ghost teachers’ on the page.
With the exception of a few, most of the ‘ghost teachers’ are male. They are individuals who are quite prominent in their professions. Interestingly, the moderators of the page claim that the number of female ghost teachers is far higher than their male counterparts.

The profiles are shared from one person to another, and within hours, the accused inevitably finds out that they have been identified. Below the profiles follow a string of comments from users, urging the person to do justice to the profession. The comments are shaming, with the users having carefully picked their words to touch a nerve. ‘Go ghost go’, ‘Don’t destroy the future of our children’ and ‘You are not from among us’ are some of the popular messages to the ghost teachers.

The campaigners

“The first rally for education started in 2012 from Mithi,” recalled one of the senior campaigners, Liaquat Mirani. He is a teacher at a private school and has been threatened several times to stop the campaign. “The campaign has somewhat achieved what millions of rupees spent by the government and donor agencies could not do,” he said, adding that several teachers have started joining their duties after the drive was launched on the social media. “It is a social media revolution.”
Mirani is one of the campaigners who directly shares posts regarding ghost teachers on his personal Facebook profile. He has also asked others to come forward and help him point out those who cheat the nation.

Suhail Memon, who is himself a journalist, is among those who expose ghost teachers on social media. Speaking to The Express Tribune, Memon said that around 40,000 people have been declared ‘ghost teachers’ by the provincial government. “We are also collecting data of how many ghost teachers have been identified on our pages,” he explained.

What they hope to achieve

“Believe me, no one will dare to be absent from schools in the future,” he said. “There will be no compromise on education.” Memon added that the bhatta in the form of salaries taken from the government will not be tolerated. Social media had become the most powerful tool of information in the world. “Its impact is being felt in Sindh now.”

One of the individual campaigners, Shahnawaz Mandhro, remarked that the response was tremendous. “Common people whose complaints were not being entertained by the education department now contact us and share information on ghost teachers,” he said. “The school from where I got my primary education is now closed. It pains me that there is no mechanism to make schools functional again,” he commented.

Interestingly, the provincial education department has requested campaigners to share data with the department, with the promise that guilty teachers would be removed from their jobs after proper scrutiny.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2014.
Read more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/793902/no-more-ghosts-facebook-campaign-sparks-revolution-in-education-sector/

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