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Why Pakistan's primary school teachers lack motivation

By Staff Writer

There are many complaints about Pakistan's primary schools and the lack of quality education found in them. One of the main concerns is the lack of proper teaching and teacher motivation. This problem has and continues to lead to the erosion of standards in the nation's schools.

In practical terms, a teacher's poor motivation translates into absenteeism, indifferent classroom practices and teachers leaving the profession. This high turnover in the profession is especially damaging for the whole system because the government's investment in teacher training is lost and replacing and training teachers who have left is another expense incurred.

There are five reasons primary school teachers in Pakistan lack motivation.

The first is an inadequate salary. In Pakistan, primary school teachers earn roughly between Rs 1,400 and Rs 2,860 ($32 to $65). This is less than what a cook, gardener or chauffeur often earns.

Good pay is one incentive to encourage employees in any profession to work harder and in a more dedicated and enthusiastic manner. Financial security helps them concentrate on their jobs without worrying about how to make ends meet every month. Because many primary school teachers in Pakistan are forced to take on extra jobs to supplement their incomes, they are often absent from the classroom.

Second, unlike medicine and engineering, teaching as a profession does not garner the status and respect the former two vocations do. In fact, the status of teachers, particularly male teachers, has suffered so severely that men who are part of Pakistan's "educated unemployed" (individuals with high qualifications but who remain unemployed) become teachers only as a last resort. Even in this case though, teaching is seen as a temporary job that will be left once a better opportunity comes along.

Third, the horrible working conditions many teachers must endure further lessen their motivation. They discourage possible candidates from becoming teachers and often lead to incumbent teachers leaving the profession.

According to the Human Development in South Asia's 1998 report, 70 per cent of the schools in Pakistan have no toilets, 68 percent no drinking water, 92 percent no playgrounds, 60 per cent no boundary walls and 16 percent are without a building.

A delegation from the UK to Pakistan has also noted a lack of desks, books, blackboards, electricity, doors, and windows, not to mention the problem of overcrowded classrooms. And the phenomena of "ghost schools", institutions which receive government grants but do not exist, are now common knowledge.

Fourth, there is little opportunity for career advancement in the teaching profession in Pakistan, especially for primary school teachers. The only one available to most teachers is to move into secondary school teaching. This however, has negative effects on the primary school system, since it is often the most motivated teachers who leave teaching primary school for secondary school.

Finally, there is virtually no system of accountability for teachers. Teachers are often accountable to Pakistan's education department which is far from their teaching milieu. This means they can get away with absenteeism. There is no local authority to ensure that teachers attend classes and teach their students. Head teachers have little authority to censure teachers who do not turn up for work. Even parents have no way to endure proper teaching.

It is clear that a formal strategy needs to be put in place to address teachers' needs while stressing and encouraging accountability and initiative. Otherwise, Pakistan's children in primary schools, especially in the rural areas, will continue to suffer from illiteracy and a lack of education, leading to little hope for their future or Pakistan's as a nation.

Date/Time Last Modified: 6/17/2002 3:45:03 PM

Readers' Comment

minhas: 12/28/2006 9:44:40 PM
90%facts, salaries have been increased but still a big gap ,contract system is another hurdle in educated male and females to justify their job .i agree that lack of supervision and controle plus a reasonable salary system can at least run this system if not fully improve it

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