LAHORE - The remote areas in Punjab will now have qualified and trained teachers as the present policy of sending under-performing teachers to these areas under punishment has been reversed under instructions from Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

It was at a high level meeting he chaired yesterday that the chief minister came to know that education department was implementing an undeclared policy of posting under-performing teachers in the remote districts as a punitive action.

“This we do as punishment for the unwilling teachers who are not performing up to the mark. This also works as deterrent for others,” Secretary Schools Abdul Jabbar Shaheen pleaded before the chief minister.

“Please stop this practice. They would rather stay at home and continue to draw salaries without doing anything. They should be demoted for failing to fulfill their duties,” the chief minister asked the secretary.

British Educationist Sir Michael Barber who was also present in the meeting intervened and said that this policy, if continued, would further add to the backwardness of the remote areas.

The secretary agreed to review the policy.  The meeting which lasted well over three hours reviewed the initiatives taken under Chief Minister’s School Reforms Roadmap. Provincial Minister Schools Education Rana Mashhood, Chief Secretary, Chairman Punjab Education Foundation, Parliament Secretary Schools Education, secretaries of concerned departments, members of roadmap team besides education experts attended the meeting. British Educationist Sir Michael Barber gave a briefing on implementation of School Reforms Roadmap.

The participants expressed satisfaction over the implementation of School Reforms Roadmap and appreciated the steps taken by Punjab government in this regard. The chief minister expressed his displeasure when one the participants told the meeting that majority of English teachers recruited by education department had failed to give the desired results. “Why is it so if qualified graduates were hired on merit? Why have they failed to deliver? He asked secretary schools. 

Shehbaz also showed his discontent over small number of training institutes for teachers in Punjab when told that there were only 28 training colleges which also lacked modern facilities. He instructed the authorities concerned to follow the education models of countries like Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Bangladesh where such programmes have been implemented quite successfully.

“It bothers my mind that we are lagging behind in this area”, he observed.

The chief minister noted that teachers’ training programme was of fundamental importance in the promotion of quality education as only competent and talented teachers could impart knowledge to students. He directed that full attention should be paid to teachers’ training under teachers training programme and modern technology should also be utilized for capacity-building of teachers.

Shehbaz  ordered setting up a special committee for monitoring of teachers’ training programme and said that he will personally head this committee. He said that the committee would look after the matters regarding teachers’ training programme on regular basis and ensure speedy implementation of this programme.

He directed that institutions should be upgraded for training of teachers and new training institutes should be set up immediately if needed. He directed that teachers’ training programme should be further improved with the consultation of international experts.

The chief minister said that teachers’ training programme was a big challenge and it will have to be met efficiently.

The meeting was told that Punjab government had recruited more than 1.5 lakh talented and competent teachers on merit basis and the process of recruitment of 80 thousand more teachers during current year has been started.

The meeting also gave approval to setting up of Punjab Education Standard Development Authority, which will be responsible for certification of teachers. Shehbaz hoped that it will help in improving teaching abilities of teachers.

He was also told that a revolutionary action plan is being implemented for improving the rate of enrollment of children in schools. The CM that provision of better transport facilities can help in bringing more children to schools.

It was also decided to establish a separate authority for looking after the matters relating to schools running under public-private partnership.

The chief minister said that implementation of School Reforms Roadmap was yielding positive results. He said that education was the key to rapid progress besides being helpful in overcoming problems like terrorism and extremism.

The meeting was also told that hotline pilot project has been initiated for apprising the people of the steps taken for improvement of schools. He said that this project has initially been started in Bahawalpur and Lahore. He said that after success of this project it will be introduced throughout the province.

The education secretary told the meeting a plan had been devised to construct 36302 additional classrooms in schools up to 2018. He said that additional classrooms are being set up in schools under Khadim-e-Punjab Schools Programme.

The meeting also gave approval to recruitment of 1350 Assistant Educational Officers.

British Educationist Sir Michael Barber expressed satisfaction over the pace of implementation of Chief Minister’s School Reforms Roadmap and said that Punjab government had taken effective measures in this regard. He said that implementation of School Reforms Roadmap was yielding positive results with regard to promotion of quality education. He further stated that School Reforms Roadmap has been speedily implemented during one year.