Islamabad - The World Teacher’s Day will be observed across the globe including Pakistan today (Sunday) with its theme ‘Invest in the Future, Invest in Teachers.’

The government held some cosmetic exercises the other day to commemorate the day at a luxury hotel to please international donors but the core issues of the community were neither highlighted nor they were addressed.

Nearly 6,000 teachers of non-formal community schools run by National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) are without salary on the day across Pakistan. Even they will be celebrating Eid-ul-Azha without getting salaries for the last three months.

According to officials, the salaries of three months would not be released until the ministry of finance approves the PC-I of the project.

Pakistan has an extensive network of non-formal basic education institutions with an estimated enrolment of at least 2.5 million, according to a recent Pakistan Education for All Review Report 2015. Establishment of non-formal basic education schools for out-of-school children in areas where formal schools were nonexistent was an innovative initiative in Pakistan. The NCHD has established over 5,700 feeder schools for grade 1 to 3 students in rural areas to improve access to primary education. Likewise, more than 13,000 basic education community schools are also functional throughout Pakistan having a total enrolment of 0.6 million.

Both the set-ups are financed by the federal government and operated directly under the ministry of federal education and professional training. But the teachers there are the lowest paid workers and even they are not paid on time that is a criminal negligence on part of policymakers.

Initially the teachers were supposed to be regularised along with the staff of the NCHD but later it was decided that instead of regularisation of services their salary structure would be increased from Rs 2500 to Rs 8000. But later it was reduced to Rs 5000 by the government due to budgetary cuts. Now a teachers of a feeder school is paid Rs 5,000 monthly.

“The teachers were not paid for the whole year during the last financial year 2013-14 and at the end of the year their salaries for the last 12 months were released. It is sheer cruelty towards the teachers,” remarked an official of the NCHD.

“Last time when I visited various schools in suburbs of Quetta they all had the same complaints; non-payment of dues on time to teachers and non-availability of books to the students,” informed another NCHD official who deals with the teachers’ problems every day. “One of the teachers explained about the books’ non-availability and salary issues with wet eyes and I was cursing myself that I am here to monitor the quality of education when they have been without salaries and books for months. I can do nothing for them,” he remarked sharing his helplessness and frustration.

Bureaucratic hurdles at the ministries of education and finance and the corrupt management of the NCHD always delay the approval of the project, blamed commission officials whom teachers approach for resolution of their issues.

Dr Allah Bakhsh Malik, additional secretary of ministry of federal education and professional training who is also holding additional charge of director general NCHD, maintained that the amount for the first quarter had been released but the teachers could not be paid as the project director was transferred. “Hopefully with the appointment of new project director after Eid the honorarium will be released to them,” he added.