ISLAMABAD - World Teachers’ Day was celebrated around the world on October 5 that corresponds to an important sign of the awareness, understanding and gratitude for the teacher for his fundamental contribution to education and development but in Pakistan teachers have little to celebrate.

In Pakistan this day is known as ‘Salam Teacher Day’. No salient ceremony was held by the government to acknowledge the significance of the services of a teacher except a routine gathering at Islamabad Model College for Girls F-6 to celebrate the day. The function was in fact arranged at National Library but it was shifted in emergency to ICG because of unknown reasons, complained the teaching fraternity.

Education has always been a supreme priority of every civilised and progressive nation, because it sharpens, and inspires the intellectual tone of the individuals of a society. In the present day world significance of education and the role of a teacher in its spread cannot be overstated but, unfortunately, we celebrate, merely, Slam Teacher-Day and do nothing practically for strengthening the position of our teacher so that he could render his services at the best.

‘Teacher, in Pakistan, is the most neglected being. It seems he stands nowhere whether it is policy making or it is the affair of raising his standard of living. Financially poor teacher cannot be expected to perform his duties well, because he is all the time preoccupied by such problems that drain out his potentials, and compromise his intellectual capacities’ remarked a schoolteacher. A teacher on the condition of anonymity informed ‘teachers were kept away from any policymaking and retired army officials ran the affairs of the educational institutions. And it was the blue-eyed boy of the dictator President who ran the affairs of the Federal Directorate of Education on the same patterns the way country was being run. It was he who was given illegal and unprecedented extension of service for 8 years. All the flow of funding from the friendly states across the world was wasted on the so-called foreign training of a few handpicked people’.

One of the college teachers pointed out that ‘Ata ul Haq Qasmi illustrates in one of his writings that it is the time that the badly neglected elements of our society are taking the revenge from society. Running a tuition centre on purely commercial basis was a way of taking an indirect revenge from the society. When government cannot calculate how an apartment for moderate living is hired in the capital city and how a budget of family of 5 is made out of meager salary then it is obvious for teachers to hold all instruction at school in the morning and deliver at tuition centre in the afternoon’.

The teachers feel inferior, passive and hopeless because of financial worries and it passes from generation to generation. Children of teachers who grow up in such problems suffer more persistent, frequent, and severe health problems than do children who grow up under better financial circumstances. Homeless teachers experience even greater life stress than others, including increased disruption in classroom, family relationships, and friendships, he added.

Professor Tahir Mahmood, spokesperson for Federal Government College Teachers’ Association when asked for comments said, ‘Mere slogans and celebration of a day will serve no good purpose rather it is nothing less than mocking his already undermined position. The problems of the teachers should be solved on priority basis’.  If they are financially sound, free of their worries they will automatically be saluted. The city is unable to provide shelter, to the teachers. Most of the teachers are compelled to live in the overcrowded slums of Rawalpindi or far-flung areas of the capital because of cheaper rents where they lack the most basic shelter. The department is showing indifferent behavior in releasing the rental ceiling cheques to the owners so the teachers are under constant threats of the landlords. A teacher who gets his own house in Islamabad is lucky.  As the government has the power to play a major role in both facilitating and developing affordable housing in capital city so the teachers should be allotted a residential sector in the city, he demanded.

Professor Tariq Mehmood Baloch, general secretary, FGCTA remarked that the teachers should be encouraged indiscriminately to serve education. ‘Promotion formula for them should be such that makes this job attractive. Unfortunately most teachers retire in their scale of appointment. Special allowances should be announced that help improve their financial situation this will certainly help them focus more on how to make classroom atmosphere more effective. State-of-the-art hospitals should be on the penal of the education department like other departments in order to ensure best health facilities for the teachers and their families’.