Teachers demonstrating in Peshawar this Week
Teachers in the tribal areas of Pakistan demonstrated again this week against the non-payment of their salaries and the lack of permanent contracts
The teachers work in community schools run by the Federal Aministration of Tribal Areas (FATA) in some of the most difficult places in the world - where an insurgency is raging - not only that but some of them have not been paid for 19 months and they are still on temporary contracts.
The funding for FATA was originally paid by aid agencies, and according to one report
was set up to provide education at low cost. Very low as it turned out - with teachers not being paid and in many cases no school buildings and classes having to take place in local mosques. According to the same report, teaching in the community areas was a 'labour of love' for teachers - some of whom had to travel two hours every day to reach their pupils. One told the Tribune
: “Classes are conducted in a mosque because there is not enough space available for all the students. That may not be a problem much longer since we keep losing students due to the insurgency, which has scared many of them into not coming. I have not been paid in six months. But I still love teaching. I love spreading knowledge to my students.”
Nearly 2000 teachers are affected. Last month they set up protests outside FATA offices in Peshawar and were assured that they would be given permanent contracts and their other grievances would be addressed. However it seems that this has not happened since reports indicate that they are protesting again this week.
Report after report from the World Bank blames teachers for the fact that their Millennium Development Goal for universal primary education is not being met - most recently in their document Making Schools Work
. This is the second example from Pakistan we have reported recently on this website of teachers not receiving any salary - the last was in November
, some primary school teachers in the country were threatening suicide because their salaries were not paid. Teachers all over Pakistan and the global south carry on working day after day in intolerable conditions because as the teacher quoted above said, they love spreading knowledge to their students. Their denigration by organisations such as the World Bank serves the interest of neo-liberal education policy which all over the world is spreading privatisation and a reductionist education for the poor.