When I was posted as Deputy DEO, I was given the task to carry out a tour of schools of a district in Balochistan along with a divisional level officer.
Before we departed, I updated the officer on the state of affairs and then we headed out to visit some middle and high schools. At 9.30am we reached the first high school where none of the staff members had arrived. Subsequently, in the next three schools we visited, not a single teacher had bothered to turn up at the school.
In one instance, the school had been converted into a residential house, in other it was a warehouse and one school was in complete shambles.
Eventually, we reached a school where only three out of 11 teachers were present, and they were either from other provinces or belonged to other areas. The eight local teachers were all absent, yet their attendance had been marked. As it turned out, the non-local teachers were instructed by their local counterparts to mark their attendance.
The officer traveling with me unleashed his fury on the three teachers and scolded them to a point that one of the teacher was on verge of tears. Another teacher there took me aside to plead their case, revealing to me that those three have been running the school in a similar manner for the last 12 years and they had been forced to mark attendance of the local staff.
Afterwards, we made our way to a middle school in a village where the news of our visit had reached already. It meant that besides the two non-locals, there were two local teachers present as well. One of the teachers was the son of the tribe leader of that village and his demeanor made him look more like a tribe leader than a teacher.
The officer with me tried to behave with him in the same manner as he did in the previous school with the other teachers, only to be rebuffed by him.
The ‘teacher’, rather rudely, reminded the officer that he was only a common man and should not cross him. The officer got the hint and, soon afterwards, told me that it was time to leave as it was getting late and that we will see other schools in a subsequent tour.
Upon our return, I told the officer that the only way we can convince the teachers to follow the regulations and perform their duties responsibly is if the Balochistan Employees’ Efficiency and Discipline (BEEDA) Act of 2011 is implemented in its letter and spirit, otherwise the situation will continue to deteriorate.
At which, he replied that the system as a whole is in turmoil despite the fact that the BEEDA Act is indeed quite effective. It was obvious to me that instead of highlighting the weaknesses at administrative level and those responsible for its downfall, he merely chose to blame the ‘system’.
That was the day when I decided to quit my job as an officer to become a headmaster, realising that since the ‘system’ was so ineffective, I won’t be able to make dent in it, given what I experienced during the visit to various schools. The only way to make a small difference was to do the right thing myself.
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