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Punjab to take action against school principals for high dropout rates

RAWALPINDI: The Punjab Education Department has called a meeting of principals in Lahore on Saturday to probe into the issue of high student dropout rates at six government run schools in the Rawalpindi District.

More than 50pc of the students have left various government run schools in the district including the Government Christian High School in Raja Bazaar, Muslim High School No.1 Saidpur Road, Government Boys High School DAV College near Liaquat Bagh, Government Boys High School Kahuta, Government Boys High School Baasli and Government Girls Higher Secondary School in Chak Beli Khan.

The Punjab Education Department has sought details of these students from the Rawalpindi Education Authority (REA) and has called a meeting of principals in Lahore on Saturday.

A senior official at the education department told Dawn that the provincial government had directed the schools to ensure that enrolment rates increase and when it had found such a large number of dropouts instead, the Punjab government had asked the department to take strict action against the headmasters of the schools where the dropout rate had increased to 50pc.

More than 50pc dropout rate recorded at six govt-run schools in Rawalpindi district
The officials explained that there were multiple reasons for students dropping out from government run schools including teachers not giving students enough attention, poor quality of education, teacher and staff behaviour and the bad condition the schools are in.

The official said the education department will be looking into all of these factors and will likely terminate the services of the principles or issue warnings to them.

An REA official told Dawn that the schools were in bad conditions and that parents did not want to send their children to such schools.

He said the roofs of many classrooms in the Government Christian Boys High School in Raja Bazaar had fallen in and had not yet been repaired.

“Parents do not want their children spending time in a building which can fall anytime,” he said, adding that the government should improve school buildings if it wanted to decrease the student dropout rate.

When asked, Punjab Teacher Association president Chaudhry Sagheer Alam said teachers will be held responsible if students go to private schools instead and that it was wrong of the government to punish teachers when they were not at fault.

“The Punjab government is getting funds from international donors for improving infrastructure but it is yet to improve buildings or [train teachers],” he said.

He added that the government, too, promotes private schools and that teachers in government schools have not been paid their salaries for two months.

Speaking to Dawn, REA Chief Executive Officer Qazi Zahoorul Haq said the government should take action against school principles if the dropout rate in their school exceeds 50pc.

“Teaching staff is responsible for providing a good environment so that students do not leave,” he said, adding that teachers should also give students proper attention.

Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2017

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