LAHORE - The enrolment campaign will fail unless the government makes it mandatory for officials at every level, especially education department, to send their children to state-run schools.

Experts say that without taking such a step the enrolment drive of the School Education Department (SED) would fail badly.

“How can SED officials persuade parents to send their children to government schools when they prefer sending their children to private schools?” asked Tariq Chaudhry, a resident of Sargodha.

He said the education minister and the secretary should direct the staff, including administrative hierarchy, teachers and non-teaching employees to get their children enrolled in government schools.

From the education minister to the secretary, additional and deputy secretaries, directors, deputy directors and CEOs, district education officers (DEOs), DDEOs, AEOs, principals, head teachers and teachers, everyone should enrol their children in public sector schools before launching the enrolment campaign, he said. Neither teachers nor other officials of the education department like to send their children to government schools.

An affidavit should be sought from all those joining the education department to enrol their children in public institutions.

Moreover, the federal or provincial officers, both civil and police, posted in districts or tehsils like deputy commissioners, additional deputy commissioners, assistant commissioners, district monitoring officers, district police officers and police superintendents don’t like to keep their families with them; therefore, they stay mostly in the provincial capital. They only serve in the field and have least interest in schools.

Responding to a query, a deputy commissioner said on condition of anonymity there was no tenure protection therefore it was difficult for them to shift and enrol their children in districts they are posted in.

“The government should protect their tenure and they will shift their families to districts of their appointment,” he said.

Dr Zeeshan, a private school teacher, said if the PTI government is sincere in improving quality of education at public sector schools it should direct officials of district and provincial administration to enrol their children in public schools.

When children of deputy commissioners and assistant commissioners will be enrolled in government schools, quality of education at these schools will improve without spending a single penny.

Responding to a query about provincial government’s strategy to enrol out-of-school children, retired head teacher Muhammad Yaqoob said the PTI-led Punjab government should do legislation and ask media outlets to allocate one-fourth of their transmission time to programmes on education and research. He said that media outlets should be paid for this airtime.

Moreover, girls and boys enrolled in primary schools should be given stipend and nutritious food in schools. The government should also introduce loan schemes for students enrolled in institutions of higher education.

Muhammad Waqas, a public school teacher, said the government could not force teachers to enrol their children in public schools. He said it was possible only if the government makes it mandatory for administrative officers to enrol their children in state-run schools.

Muhammad Yaseen, principal of a public school, said no public school teacher likes to enrol his or her child in his school; they want to enrol their children in private schools. He said that teachers are engaged in useless activities. He said that teachers conduct examinations, elections, and census. He said that teachers should not be given any such assignment.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Elementary & Secondary Education Department has reportedly launched a drive to achieve the target of 850,000 children’s enrolment in primary classes. Moreover, KP School Education Director Farid Khattak has said that more than 200,000 students from private schools shifted to government schools recently.

KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan has said that more than 200 percent increase in the education budget was made in five years; it was increased from Rs64 billion to Rs 138 billion. Alif Ailaan, an NGO, in 2017 ranked KP on the top among other provinces in terms of primary school infrastructure.

Asked if the government will direct the officials to get their children enrolled in government schools, Punjab Education Minister Murad Raas said the PTI “is working on it”.