Islamabad - An overwhelming majority of teachers believe that corporal punishment is useful to attract students towards their study in the class.

Worryingly, teachers across the board seem to view corporal punishment as useful and overall, the proportion of private school teachers-78 per cent- who strongly believe exceeds that of government teachers-73 per cent, said a new study launched Thursday.        

The Voice of Teachers, a study of Pakistani teachers, talks to the men and women who are charged with the task of educating this country’s children, often under the most difficult circumstances.

 Conducted by the Society for the Advancement of Education (SAHE), in partnership with Alif Ailaan, the study is based on an extensive survey of more than 1,250 teachers and head teachers in government and private schools across the country.

The reason why teachers view corporal punishment as useful is partly the result of their own experience. The majority of teachers in the survey reported that they were subjected to corporal punishment as students.

If teachers see this as having failed to prevent them from completing their studies, it is likely that they would repeat this behaviour with their own students or at least not think of it as detrimental. “Children in government schools do not study without a stick. You have to use a stick if the student is to learn something because classes are too big in government schools,” the study quotes Dilawar Hussain, government primary schoolteacher from Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as saying.

The study highlights absenteeism is a problem because it adds to the burden of those who do report to work.

Political connections, links with teachers associations and even outright corruption allow some teachers to remain absent without official leave. In the qualitative interviews, many government teachers point out that logistical difficulties contribute to absenteeism.

According to the report, a significant proportion of government teachers is being recruited without the position being advertised, with teachers in Sindh heading the list for such recruitments.

In the case of government schools, nationally, more than 20 per cent of teachers were hired without applying through an advertisement, which is against the government hiring procedures.

And only one per cent of government teachers nationally admit to use political connections to influence their recruitments.

An overwhelming majority of government schoolteachers complained about being assigned non-teaching duties such as dengue, voter registration, etc. “Government teachers are frequently assigned tasks that take them away from the classroom or eat into the time they would otherwise use to plan lessons or mark papers. And they are required to spend around 50 days a year, on an average, performing tasks that have nothing to do with teaching,” the survey revealed.

The survey also showed that teachers are by and large ill-equipped to teach in English. “The majority of teachers at the primary level possess a PTC, which clearly states that the holder has not been trained in the teaching of English. Students in government schools tend to belong to the poorest families and to live in largely monolingual communities, making the task of English teaching more difficult,” it added.

The study recommends that language policy should be based on the principle that early learning is most effective in the mother tongue, especially for children belonging to communities where a single language is dominant (monolingual environments).

In other communities, other options can be explored. A strategy will need to be developed to help children transition from the mother tongue to Urdu and English at a later stage in their schooling.

Poor residential facilities, the cost of travel, the absence of safe and reliable public transport, security issues, and cultural barriers to working far from home are all factors that lead teachers to pursue ‘favourable’ postings.

The majority of teachers in survey report that they want to work in their home towns (27 per cent) or that they experience mobility issues (20 per cent). Next in importance are the schooling of their children (16 percent) and the availability of health care facilities (13 per cent).

Among other issues that hamper a teachers’ ability to perform effectively are overcrowded classrooms, multi-grade teaching, poor quality textbooks, and the lack of facilities and equipment.

However, an overwhelming majority of teachers in all provinces report that they are satisfied when asked about their satisfaction with their current posting,

At the same time overall, 51 per cent of government teachers say they would prefer to work on an administrative position, with this aspiration highest among male teachers in Balochistan (72 per cent) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (71 per cent) and among female teachers in Punjab (61 per cent) as an administrative job is thought to be more prestigious than teaching.