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Private schools pay teachers less than unskilled labourers

PESHAWAR: Contrary to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s claim of declaring education emergency in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, most of the teachers at private educational institutions get lesser salaries than the minimum wages fixed by government for the unskilled labourers.

Sources said that in the absence of proper law or rules and regulations to determine the salaries of teachers serving at private schools, the teachers having postgraduate degrees were treated equal to unskilled labourers in terms of wages till April 23, 2015.

“However, with the deletion of private educational institutions from four different laws through The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Amendment Laws) Act 2015, no law is being implemented on the teachers of private schools, leaving them at the mercy of the owners of their schools,” they said.

The four laws from which private educational institutions were excluded include The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Payment of Wages Act 2013, The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Industrial and Commercial Employment (Standing Orders) 2013, The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minimum Wages Act 2013 and The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Industrial Statistics Act 2013.
Govt gives free hand to owners by excluding private educational institutions from labour laws

“We are facing the worst kind of exploitation from the callous owners of private schools,” said a teacher serving at a private school. He said that most of the teachers got meagre salaries from Rs3,000 to Rs6,000 per month.

He said that besides teaching students, teachers of private schools were also performing additional duties like convincing parents to admit their children to their respective schools.

“When the schools are closed in connection with the summer and winter vacations, the teachers are not paid their salaries although the owners receive full fee from the students,” said the teacher.

There are around 7,000 private schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 1.71 million enrolled students — 1.18 million boys and 0.53 million girls.

The number of teachers at private schools is 85,325, out of which male teachers are 40,859 and female teachers are 44,466, according to statistics of the education department for the academic year of 2014-15. Of them, 9,928 teachers are working at primary schools, 24,030 at middle schools, 33,864 at high schools and 17,503 at higher secondary schools.

Sources said that owners of private schools felt the heat when officials of labour department started taking action against them in 2014 under the labour laws for not paying minimum wages of Rs13,000, fixed by government last year for unskilled labourers, to the teachers.

They said that in a short span of time, labour department initiated action against the owners of over 100 private schools for not paying minimum wages to their employees. They officials of labour department faced stiff resistance in applying the law of minimum wages on the teachers.

“Finally the owners, including several law makers, managed to exclude private schools from the relevant laws through legislation,” said sources. They added that the labour department opposed excluding private schools from the relevant laws as there was no specific law to fix salaries for teachers of private schools and other staff members.

Several lawmakers including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar have been running the private schools.

“Now labour department can take action against a shopkeeper for not awarding minimum wages to his helper but it can’t take action against school owners for paying meagre salaries to the postgraduate teachers,” said sources.

They said that both the previous and present provincial governments failed to establish a regulatory authority to regularise affairs of the private schools, especially salaries of teachers, their qualification and fees of students.

Sources said that the draft law for regularising the affairs of private schools, currently lying in education department, was drafted in 2010 by the education department when the province was ruled by the coalition government of ANP and PPP.

They said that owners of private schools were influential people, who didn’t allow t passage of the law. They added that even some lawmakers and political parties had their own chains of private schools.

Sources said that like its predecessors, PTI was also reluctant to form regulatory authority for private schools as the draft law couldn’t move from the elementary and secondary education department during the three and a half years of its tenure.

“No one from PTI is taking interest in formation of regulatory authority for private schools,” a senior official in the education department said.

Elementary and Secondary Education Minister Mohammad Atif Khan was not available for comments.

Courtesy : Dawn News

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