“Our job is teaching. Forcing us to perform extra duties [for other departments] is compromising students’ grades, for which teachers are always held responsible,” said Raja Ayaz Satti, a teacher at the Government High School No. 1 Rawalpindi.
He said that teachers were often asked to perform additional duties during emergencies, but they were never given prior training.
The teachers claimed that under a ‘well-thought-out conspiracy’, they were being involved in other tasks to bring a bad name to the state-run schools and make a case for their privatisation.
“It is not a teacher’s job to give polio drops to children. If we have to perform this duty, then there is no need to regularise thousands of lady health workers,” said Imtiaz Abbasi, a member of the Punjab Teachers’ Union (PTU).
He said that teachers should only facilitate polio teams in schools to help make drives successful instead of performing field duties.
PTU General Secretary Rana Liaquat said that teachers also have families and social lives. “Teachers also want to spend time with their children and families on special occasions. It’s ridiculous to ask a teacher to sit at health camps to create awareness about a disease. That is the job of health workers,” he said.
“There are thousands of health workers, doctors and other health officials who should be directed to attend such camps,” he said, adding that the Supreme Court also had also issued a verdict ordering that teachers should not be engaged in duties which are not directly connected to teaching and education.
“We have also written to the education secretary about the issue but have yet to receive a response,” he said. He suggested that hundreds of jobless qualified youth should be engaged in such activities and the money being given to teachers for performing such duties should be given to them instead.
Raja Shahid Mubarak, a teacher and member the PTU, said that if the health department was under-staffed, the government should immediately start recruitment. “Doing so will create jobs and improve education standards in government schools,” he said.
“Throughout the year, we are engaged in paper checking, vaccination drives, emergency duties and elections duties, which is compromising school results,” he added.
Education Executive District Officer Qazi Zahoorul Haq could not be reached for comment despite repeated attempts on his cell phone.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 10th, 2014.