LAHORE - While the government has fixed Rs 15,000 a month as minimum salary for a worker, teachers working for a number of schools funded by the Punjab Education Foundation are being paid much less - and that much late, a survey carried out by The Nation has revealed.

Over 90,000 teachers are affected by the underpayment or delayed payment routine. They receive their salaries with a delay of mostly about three weeks.

The PEF is funding about 1.77 million students in 3,507 schools. Of them, 973,434 students are male and 804,117 female. The owners of these schools shift the responsibility of delayed payments to the PEF. As for low salaries, sources in the Minimum Wages Board say that affected teachers have never approached them and that they cannot take any action against anybody unless they receive a written complaint.

They said that schools working on public-private partnership model were showing good results, as compared to NGOs-run schools where teachers are paid much better salaries.

About underpayment, a teacher - Azra - said she was paid Rs 5,500 only despite her five-year teaching experience. Her principal Ahmad Ali says that since the foundation was paying them less; they can’t pay more. Fouzia, another teacher, said that she was paid Rs 15,000 because she was highly qualified and experienced. A teacher from Almas School in Depalpur said her school had over 650 students and she was being paid Rs 6000. Zara from Bahawalpur said she was being paid Rs 5,500 only. Maria said her salary was Rs 7,000 while she was a graduate and experienced. She says that her school has strength of over 1,000 students but teachers are underpaid. The teachers said that PEF schools didn’t pay them online or via cross cheque, as the PEF Act 2012 stressed.

When contacted, PEF Managing Director Tariq Mahmood said that payments to the affiliated schools were late in the past owing to delayed approval of funds from the finance department. He said that payment for November was in process and will be made soon. However, he said, less salaries to teachers were not a PEF issue. The teachers, who are being exploited by private owners, may knock the relevant forum that is Minimum Wage Board (MWB). He said the foundation never took up this matter with the MWB. The foundation was only responsible for paying fees for the underprivileged and needy students. “It is not their concern to ensure good salaries to teachers,” the MD added.

A MWB official said on condition of anonymity that board acts only if the aggrieved party files a case. He said that in the PEF funded schools the foundation never raised underpaid teachers’ issue. As per official sources, the PEF had cancelled registration of dozens of schools on charges of recruiting under matric or matriculate teachers and a lack of facilities for students. Out of total 3,200 schools established in different districts, registration of dozens of schools was cancelled after they failed to show good results. The school owners had filed appeals in the MD office for restoration of their registration.

The schools whose registration was reportedly cancelled included The Quaid Public School Mianwali, Ghazali Public School Mianwali, Shaheen Force Public School Muzaffar Garh, Shaheen Force Girls Public School Muzaffar Garh, Islamia Public School Muzaffar Garh, Iqra Science Public School Multan, Allama Iqbal Public School Multan, Alfalah Superior Secondary School Nankana Sahib, Al Bairuni School Vehari, Ghazali Education Trust School Shaikhupura, Hasan Public School D G Khan, Fatima Misali Public School D G Khan, Community Model Public Elementary School Bhakkar, Islamic Science Foundation Girls High School Faisalabad, Quaid Public School Gujranwala, Shama Public Girls High School R Y Khan, The Educators Science School Okara, Paragon Higher Secondary School Depalpur, Ali Model Elementary School depalpur, Misali Kishwar Public School of Science, Ghazali Education Trust School Shaikhupura, Science Model School Sargodha, Saleh Public School Khanewal, New Green Land Public School Rawalpindi, Hira Public School Rajanpur, The Licium Girls School Lahore, Pakistan Cadre Grecian Model Scholl Khanewal, Usman Ideal Public School Kasur and Abid Public School Kasur.

 

The PEF director requesting privacy said that the schools had shown bogus attendance of the students for better funds. Moreover, the PEF schools were exploiting their teachers.

Talking about PEF schools’ performance, the director added, “Our students got good positions in the BISEs and outshined other public and private sector candidates.” Sidra Bano scored 1,043 marks and got the second position in the BISE Gujranwala. Shehr Bano Saeed, with 1,041 marks, stood second in the matric results of 2016, arts group, in BISE Multan. Muhammad Shahzad, who obtained 1,080 marks in the matric 2016 results, secured third position in the BISE Multan.

A PEF-funded school owner said that their appeals were pending with the foundation MD and registration was restored after the hearing.