Education is a continuing process. It plays a vital role in developing the nations. Therefore, a lot of efforts are made to improve education system in any country. Likewise, many efforts have been done to improve educational system of Pakistan and still efforts are on the way. Education is badly affected in rural and semi rural areas due to non-cooperative attitude of parents, demotivated teachers working in rural and semi rural areas, distance and travelling problems for teachers and unauthorized absentees of students.
The glory of any nation depends on quality education system. In order to produce quality education, teachers must update their knowledge. They should keep on their studies along jobs otherwise their knowledge and abilities will rust out. They should be aware of new happenings in the society and around the world. This is an overwhelming issue in rural areas that teachers have less opportunities for educational advancement.
A teacher acts as a trainer, mentor, guide and coach. The working environment affects teachers’ performance. Ability of students’ to learn and their performance are the main judgment factors to assess the performance of a teacher. Only active, hard working and satisfied teacher can produce the quality work. A teacher who is dissatisfied cannot execute his duty well. The factors which are mainly responsible for teachers’ job satisfaction are academic qualification, salary, superiors’ attitude, career prospects, management, culture, working environment etc.
Teacher is considered to be a change agent. Education system revolves around teacher, learner and learning environment. If the teacher is good, it will lead to good education system. For sound learning to take place, a teacher must be devoted to work.
In Pakistan, teaching profession is considered as poorly paid and less profitable profession. Although it is understood that teacher plays a central role in shaping the personalities of students which are future nation builders. However, many studies conducted in Pakistan showed that the problems of female teachers are being multiplying with each passing day which has greatly influenced the education system. These problems directly or indirectly affect students. As no much work has been done in this regard. Thus, the focus of this study is to explore those issues which have greatly influenced teachers’ efficiency in rural and semi rural areas and provide possible suggestion to stakeholders so that those issues could be rectified.
Issued Faced by Teachers
Transport is a common issue for all teachers whether they are male or female, either they are working in rural area or urban area. But this issue intensifies at rural areas where no transport is available and where public transport is available only scantly and intermittently. Many teachers are appointed in far off places where they face the problem of lodging and transport. Although Education Department is now working on transferring teachers from distant places but still they are far off from their residence. They spend many hours in travelling and when they reach to their work place, they are totally exhausted. As a result, their efficiency level decreases. Researcher observed many teachers waiting for vehicles at transport terminals. (The author herself is one of the teachers faced with this issue.)
Being a female, standing at transport terminal, waiting for transport is a usual phenomenon. There are many areas where no local transport is available. Teachers have arranged hired vans to reach at their destinations. The conveyance allowance provided to them is not enough to meet their travelling expenses. Author observed many female teachers changing two, sometimes three vans to reach their workplace. They leave home early in the morning and still on the way they have fright of being late and being insulted by the superiors.
Attitude of drivers is really bad. They not even charge them high fares but also disrespect them. Abusive language and harassing behaviors are common.
Accommodation issues also hinder teachers’ retention in rural areas school. As no housing facility is provided to teachers, those appointed in rural areas feel uncomfortable and want to be transferred as early as possible to their nearest possible station.
Lack of Parents’ Cooperation
Children show less interest in studies as they feel least support from their parents. Main reason for parents’ least support is that they are uneducated and cannot monitor their child’s studies. Resultantly, their child’s performance drops down. Parents keep their children busy in labor work, house chores and agricultural tasks. They assume that sending children to schools alone is a good parenting and rest of the duties will be carried out by their teachers.
Discouraging attitude of Superiors
The basic purpose of supervision is to improve the system. But superiors create fear element the most while inspections and monitoring. Monitoring is not done for the sake of monitoring, rather weak points are highlighted. There is little appraisal for honest teachers. New ideas and approaches are hardly encouraged. Situation can be made quite better if superiors encourage the hard work of teachers.
Despite of the level of teaching, the female teachers are facing personnel, professional and social issues, which certainly affect their physical health as well as mental health. This leads to physical and mental stress due to which they may not be able to focus on teaching or to do creative activities. Since a woman is very essential part of the family as well as for society, it is vital to alleviate her troubles. At school, dealing with heavy crowds, class management issues, to produce 90% attendance, assessment of students’ work and non cooperative attitude of parents render teachers prone to depression, stress and hypertension issues.
We notice that many teachers are not as devoted towards teaching as they should be. There are many reasons for their demotivation. One of them is that they are overburdened with additional classes due to shortage of staff in rural schools. The formula of students-teachers ratio does not sound good always because a teacher doing multigrade teaching cannot produce 100% result.
Fewer Opportunities for Professional / Academic Advancement
Teachers working in rural areas have lesser opportunity to advance their academic career. Because their workstations are quite far, local transport is also unavailable. On the other hand, little attention is paid towards professional development of teachers.
Lack of Day Care
Issues revolving around teachers’ own children also hinder teachers’ efficiency. The author observed many teachers carrying their children along them. There is no daycare room in any school in rural and semirural areas. Although few teachers have hired a maid but when their maid couldn’t come due to some reasons, they really had a tough time at school. For a teacher to work wholeheartedly, she must be facilitated in this connection.
This is another upsetting issue for most, if not all, for female teachers. An overwhelming majority of the clerical staff in schools and offices is male. It is not very comfortable for female teachers to deal with male clerical staff in many cases. Lack of respect for female teachers and treating them as ‘subordinates’ is quite common.
Causes and Concerns
Children studying in public schools are mostly from poor families. Parents make them busy in agricultural tasks especially during harvesting and send them less to school. A lot of study hours are wasted to complete the enrolment of class. Students’ unauthorized leaves and dropout in rural and semi rural areas are challenges for teachers. The fear of being inquired by higher authorities hover on the heads of teachers day and night. If a PTM would be arranged, parents don’t visit schools. They are unaware of their duties towards their children. Poverty is a main factor. Parents keep busy themselves in labor or house chores without caring for their children what they study or what not.
Health concern is another major issue for rural teachers. In few schools still teaching is being done through chalk and talk activity. Using chalk is creating serious respiratory disorders. Rural teachers are more susceptible to headache, stress, anxiety, depression, blood pressure and mental problems.
Superiors authoritative attitude also de-motivate teachers to work in rural areas. It happens mostly that teachers hard work is ignored who are working in rural areas. At the time of reward, tough criteria are made. The schools having less strength are pushed behind and teachers’ hard work is not praised. This puts teachers’ morale down. In most of the cases only head teachers’ are called and praised.
Ground realities are quite pathetic, a teacher working in rural areas training the students whose parents do nothing for their children and wants teachers to fulfill their all needs along teaching. A teacher has to cope up with all these problems on her own.
Data analysis showed that teachers employed in far flung areas have serious transport issue. In few areas no local transport is available. If it is available, then timing becomes an issue. In few areas, local transport runs after long lapses of time. And teachers find it hard to get to school in time. Teachers have arranged vans on high fares. Most of the teachers complain that they change two to three vans to get to school. Waiting at stops for vans is hard for female teachers and they feel insecurity. At the same time, they pay high fares to drivers. Drivers’ rude and abusive language is another issue. Aggressive attitude of drivers disturb them throughout the day and they could not do justice with their work. They mentioned that conveyance allowance provided to them is meager as compared to travelling expenses. Data analysis showed the problems of a science teacher who has been going to a distant area for ten years. Whenever she tries to make an attempt for transfer, her application is rejected by putting a condition single science teachers cannot be transferred.
Analysis revealed a disturbing condition of parents’ cooperation. Teachers mentioned that parents in rural areas are illiterate and education is not preferred as their primary asset. Almost all teachers complained that parents are uncooperative. They don’t provide their children with stationary needed to do work. They don’t pay attention to their studies. Even they send children in ugly and shabby dresses. They don’t send their children regularly and to produce 90% attendance, teachers call children from home. In this way, first study hour is wasted. Analysis revealed that few parents visit school on parents’ teachers meeting.
Data analysis showed that schools situated in hilly areas are not provided with all facilities. Rooms are not enough. Teachers are forced to make sit two classes in one room. Most of schools are not provided well equipped science labs.
Analysis revealed that teachers suffer from stress and anxiety. Teachers mentioned bad attitude of clerks. They take them as their subordinates and show disrespect to them. There is no clerk in most of the schools. So teachers suffer a lot to get their work done by other clerks. Despite of many calls and visits to their office, they leave their requests unattended. Few teachers complained that many of bills payable to them have been pending for 2 to 3 years.
Data analysis revealed that female teachers working in rural areas don’t have easy access to institutions of higher learning. They cannot continue their studies along jobs. As their work stations are quite far. Teachers’ school going children also suffer a lot when their mother is not at home to welcome them. None of the school in Tehsil Kallar Syedan has day care room. Teachers who has no one to look after their children suffer a lot and feel no job satisfaction.
Data analysis showed that mostly teachers don’t have any issue regarding monitoring officers’ visits or inspection team visits. Although, few teachers complained that inspection teams don’t appreciate our good work. Only their focus is just to capture our weak points. Few teachers complain about community issues as they interfere in school matters.
In consideration of above mentioned issues of teachers it is recommended that conveyance allowed provided to teachers should be reasonable so that they could meet their travelling expenses easily. As far as drivers’ rude behavior is concerned, it is recommended that government should provide teachers a conveyance facility where so possible. Governments’ staff van should be run catering 10 to 15 schools and drivers must be sensitized how to behave with teachers. There must be a training to teach drivers manners.
It is recommended that parents should be sensitized and encouraged to send their children regularly, send children in tidy dresses and attend Parents-Teachers Meetings (PTMs). It must be made their responsibility, and in case of not fulfilling it, there may be some accountability – at least social.
Government should provide well=equipped science labs in all rural and semirural areas. Government should appoint clerks in all public schools and they should carry out all the staff official matters as their duty. Head teachers must bound them to perform all the tasks without having direct interaction with teachers. They should also be held responsible and accountable in case of making intentional delay.
Government should consider to establish day care rooms in all female schools and babysitters must be appointed by the government. In this way, female teachers can be facilitated and teachers should be transferred easily to their nearest possible stations. There must be flexibility in rules about single science or math’s teachers transfer. Policy makers should plan some alternative ways to make up deficiencies of teachers and science teachers should also be given opportunity to apply for transfer.
[The author is a teacher in a rural school in Rawalpindi district. This is a work in progress and will be enriched, updated in due course.]