Why did the 9th graders falter?

Only 15 percent of the students who took the grade 9th exams under the Karakuram International University (KIU) Examination Board were declared successful in a recently announced result. A startling 85% of the students were unable to prove that they are capable of solving or answering questions based on the course they studied during the last one year. In terms of numbers, only 1801 students out of the 11,431 were able to pass the exams. Shameful result, to say the least!

The result might be reflective of some deep troubles in the education system of Gilgit-Baltistan, particularly at the government-run schools.

The teachers of Gilgit-Baltistan have been demanding pay raise for the last many years and rallying behind their Union/Association, pressing the government to give them better perks and privileges. And, the government had accepted their demands, raising their pays and giving them promotions.

On the other hand, the performance of their students has been on a downward spiral, reaching newer lows, every year. During the last year, the teachers, and their students, were on the roads most of the time. This definitely affected the performance of the students as they were unable to complete their courses and get time for revisions, let alone understanding of the concepts and developing a real knowledge base.

At the same time, the education department has been under a perpetual crisis since the current Education Minister Ali Madad Sher took charge. Investigators found that more than 800 teachers had been illegally hired by the government during the last couple of years. Most of them were dismissed from service along with two officials, on the charges of corruption and misuse of authorities. However, in a bizarre and unbecoming decision, the GB government restored the illegally hired teachers, making a mockery of the early decision. This unlawful and unethical act of the government not only shook the people’s confidence in the merits of honesty, meritocracy and hard work, it also gave the much-needed confidence and justification to the wrong-doers to continue their misadventures in the future.

Many believe that the worst is yet to come. The illegally and unethically hired teachers, who have spent heavy aEditorialmounts of money to get the job, are least likely to teach like normal teachers. They have no incentive to prepare for, make lesson plans and teach with dedication.

The role of the Gilgit-Baltistan government in this entire episode has been highly condemnable. Several key ministers have justified restoration of the illegally hired teachers on the grounds of there being unemployment in the region. This is a ridiculous attempt at covering an unforgivable crime against students, and the society.

The best one can hope for is that the next government dismisses these illegally hired teachers again and hires genuine, intelligent, and honest teachers afresh. Whether this will be done or the upcoming government too will succumb under the ugly burden of vote-bank politics is yet to be known.

In order to improve the educational systems, the government and administration should invest more and more in professional development of the teachers by establishing teach training institutions in each division. The experience and expertise of established institutions like PDCN can be used for this purpose.

The teacher training should focus on developing educational leaders who are motivated to learn and teach, and capable of converting schools into centers of learning.

At the same time, the government needs to act fast to address administrative issues and demands of the teachers, instead of prolonging them till eternity. We need to realize as a society that our failures at mutiple levels of government and society also play a crucial role in the failure of the students.

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