You are all talking about ifs and buts, the reality remains quite away, a college girl kept me shut and I was made to listen to her in still mode as her arguments were strong.

By Prof Dr Abdullah G Arijo

I came to this higher secondary school and did my matric with no physics teacher. The situation remained the same in the first year and in the second year, with a huge cry a male physics teacher came to coach. The chemistry teacher managed his transfer to an urban school, and we were made to get going with two chapters in the hope that Saen Sarkar will soon send blessings with the transfer of a teacher to teach the remaining chemistry.

So, how did you come in exams, I asked.  That’s very interesting to narrate. College gates were closed, with all arrangements. Peons were put on alert to inform if there was any movement. Our madam kept her cell phone on so that high-ups let her know of the team visit, she would manage the menace. It was the only cell phone not on silent. Our chemistry and physics papers were brought as blessings from disguise. Someone had managed to solve papers with no guilt as the students were deprived of teachers to teach and enable us to do that all on our own, that blessing at least we deserve. The girl went on and on and I had no comment as I realized her concern.

This is how schools and colleges are in Sindh province. There is a severe paucity of teaching staff and science labs are mere rooms with zero facilities. You look at written practical journals and evaluate the infra/supra structure facilities for conducting the practical work.

Teaching facilities are kind of a dream come true. and government needs sensible bones in its body to embark on smart approaches to provide quality education for the foundation of strong feet for a secure future.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations’ Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report, is enough to ponder upon. The report published on October 24, 2017, reveals the government’s apparent failure to provide high-quality education in Pakistan.

Lack of sanitation, level of teachers’ salaries, low levels of spending on education, and lack of regulations of health and safety at schools are counted among the reasons for this. In Sindh, one of the major issues being faced is the lack of sanitation and water facilities. One-third of schools in the country have no water or basic sanitation or toilets. Only half of all government schools have usable toilets.

Although, billions of rupees are spent every year on education by the provincial government and a big chunk also comes from international donors, but scenario remains all gloomy. The very reason is for the ruling elite of Sindh, education is at the bottom of priority with fear that education may act as a tool for social change, and this ultimately will threaten their domination.   

Pity, the official lords in the education department play at the hands of feudal lords, and all the training they received during civil services academy has kept a side and political affiliation is counted more than merit, and serving pseudo interests may save their lifeline.

Poor, if not dirty management is the norm of the day. There is zero, attention towards academic facilities to be provided. There is ever a shortage of subject specialists, so, how one can hit hard on copy culture?

In Umarkot for example, of the 40 sanctioned seats for subject specialists in 12 higher secondary schools, only 14 teachers have been recruited. Of these, only eight are working in schools, and six have moved to administrative posts, according to sources in the education department.

It is not only Sindh, where a shortage of science subject teachers is a town talk. In the federal capital also, the situation is not different. Recently, there was a move to hire 480 science subject specialists in Federal Department of Education schools.

According to a recent notification of the Secretary Ministry of Federal Education recommends induction of federal government educational institution teachers should be initiated. As per the recommendations out of a total of 212 posts in grade 17, around 40 male teachers of Physics, 55 for Mathematics, 40 for Chemistry, 42 for Biology, and 35 for Computer Science would be hired.

Similarly, out of a total of 204 posts for female teachers, Physics 40, Mathematics 60, Chemistry 45, and Biology 30 while 29 female teachers would be hired for the subject of Geographic.

Surprisingly. posts of teachers were lying vacant in federal educational institutions because no induction was made since 2009.

The very impact of a shortage of subject specialists eventually translates into copy culture that is thriving in Sindh, eroding its education system over the past several decades. As usual, those who suffer the most are the poor students from outlying areas, where access to education is negligible.

Copy culture has become unstoppable on a national level; however, Sindh stands on top. Despite all efforts, it seems that education is becoming a deep-rooted issue in Sindh. The moment the exam schedule is announced, it looks as if the ‘moon of copy’ has been sighted. What should be a stressful event for students turns into a carnival. From parents and teachers to students and their friends, all actively participate in this week-long fiesta of cheating.

This all is otherwise a point to ponder, but let the issue of staff shortage be given primary thought, and unless otherwise, the situation will saturate and will never come back from the “Point of No Return”

The efforts taken by Sindh Minister for Education are appreciated in controlling the copy culture, however, the shortage of subject specialists will remain a rock on the road and unless solved, the dream of coping with the copy culture remains as such.

Mere cosmetic arrangements are only five minutes fame and are like new lipstick on old lips. There is a dire need to understand the actual root cause of academic corruption, as help will even not come from the heavens unless the intention is on the way.