Teachers in search of a saviour

How can one be blind to the destruction of education by the district education officers? It is the DEOs who are responsible for the ghost schools in Sindh and are the patrons of ghost teachers

The World Bank has approved over $ 300 million for the Sindh education department to finalise the teachers’ recruitment process by March 31, 2014. The way the slow pace of the hiring process runs, it appears very hard to meet the World Bank’s deadline.
The Sindh education department advertised 18,282 posts for high school teachers (HST), junior school teachers (JST) and primary school teachers (PST) in April 2012. The reputed testing organiation, National Testing Service (NTS), was given the responsibility of conducting the tests. It conducted the HST test in December 2012 and JST and PST in January 2013. Over 700,000 candidates appeared for the examinations. The NTS declared the HST and JST results in January, and the PST in February last year. The NTS did a good job by maintaining merit and redressing the complaints of the candidates. After the final results, the NTS uploaded a form on its website as an opportunity to the candidates for any possibly needed corrections in the fields of name, union council, taluka and district.
The corruption in the entire education department of the country is an open secret. The Sindh education department’s higher officials, despite being well aware of the corruption at the district level, have authorised the District Education Officers (DEOs) to do whatever they want with the NTS corrected and finalised HST, JST and PST lists. In many districts, the DEOs have been found tampering with the NTS provided merit lists by removing the names of the candidates from the union councils and including the new ones in the name of corrections. The candidates state that the DEOs called them in the first district recruitment/reporting committee (DRC) in May to June 2013. The DEOs charged Rs 1,500 cash from every candidate and Rs 500 demand draft in favour of concerned Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) controllers in the name of verification of the educational documents. In this way, tampering was first done with the NTS finalised lists. 
The DEOs called another DRC in November to December last year. They charged Rs 600 in favour of the BISE controllers and tampered with the merit lists for the second time. I myself visited a district education office and found correct whatever the candidates narrated. I wonder how the higher officials in the education department have given powers to the DEOs to amend the NTS finalised merit lists! How can one be blind to the destruction of education by the district education officers? It is the DEOs who are responsible for the ghost schools in Sindh and are the patrons of ghost teachers. The tampering of the DEOs with the NTS finalised teachers’ lists is like the delimitation process under the district level revenue officers. The delimitation in Sindh was declared null and void by the Sindh High Court when some political parties filed petitions against its being politicised and unjust. 
However, no political party’s interest is invested in the teachers’ recruitment process so no petitions are likely against this unfair revision process at the hands of the DEOs. When the Sindh Public Service Commission (SPSC) recommends names after the final selection to different departments of the Sindh government, the concerned departments only verify the educational credentials of the given candidates. Then why not the verification of only the educational credentials of the NTS pass teachers? Why tamper with the merit orders in the lists? The NTS is a competent testing orgainisation. The judges’ selection process is also carried out by it. How can the politicised, corrupt and incompetent DEOs tamper with the NTS finalised teachers’ lists?
The candidates have been protesting against the inordinate delays in the finalisation of the recruitment process and the tampering by the DEOs with the fair and merit-based NTS formed lists. The Sindh education minister has said in a recent statement that the orders would be given to the NTS pass teachers by this March. The Sindh education department has not issued joining orders to the May 2013, 22 SPSC qualified English lecturers so far. The question arises: how can the same department first issue offer orders and then joining orders to over 18,000 NTS pass teachers by March 31?
Only a small number of NTS pass HST teachers have received offer orders and over 7,000 JST and 10,000 PST pass candidates are still awaiting the offer orders. The majority of the candidates belong to very poor families and it will be a golden opportunity for them to support their families if the orders are given to them before March 31, based on the NTS final lists.
The World Bank must approve only the NTS formed final successful candidates’ lists of HST, JST and PST. If the DEOs formed lists are accepted, it would be a slaughter of merit and waste of the World Bank’s money for the improvement of education in Sindh.
Dr Nafisa Shah was born in 1968. She is a PhD from Oxford. Before Malala, she was nominated, along with other women, in 2005 for a collective Nobel Peace Prize. She is an upright female politician. She remained chairperson of the National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) in 2005. The candidates are in search of a saviour. Can she turn up to save the future of over 18,000 NTS pass teachers?

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