Doing Less, Wanting Bigger Pay — Protesting Teachers in Peshawar

Today, for the third day, the teachers at the University of Peshawar continued to protest against the government’s failure to fulfill its
promise of increasing teachers’ pay by 20 percent. There were no classes on campus as teachers boycotted classes and offices at various departments also remained closed. This was not only the case at the University of Peshawar but the universities of the entire province are reportedly observing the same strike. They are all asking for a pay increase. But do they deserve so?

Ordinarily, when one asks for an increase in pay, some progress in performance or services is presented as a proof so as to satisfy the abstract concept of justice underlying the quest for the prize. Sadly, university teachers, in and outside Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, have not only disappointed by their performance but also stained the good name of education by indulging in immoral acts. The issue of sexual harassment of students by their male teachers has been in the news for more than a year and many cases have been reported. Today, a respectable family is more worried about sending its girls to a university than it used to be a few years ago. Is that progress?

Looking at the quality of education in Peshawar and outside the city, it is no less disappointing. Favoritism and nepotism have filled the teaching positions with incompetent and dishonest people who neither can nor are interested in teaching properly. Instead of putting effort into delivering quality education, university teachers mostly fall back on cramming and copy-paste practices. Plagiarism is so rampant that even the ex VC of the University of Peshawar was found guilty of plagiarizing his doctorate thesis. To protect him, as reported on a blog, the university administration attempted to redefine plagiarism to make room for the fraud.

University teachers, claiming to be father figures of their students, have also showed the least concern for guidance or even safety of students. The stabbing of a female student in the presence of faculty members at the Gomal University of DK Khan was news that shocked almost anyone who read it. How could a father figure watch his daughter stabbed by a man without trying in the least to protect her? Protesting students after this incident demanded that all teachers be suspended for failing to come to the girl’s rescue. Indeed, that incident alone was enough to prove that teachers in this part of the world today know only how to and where to get their salary. They have no interest in making things better, even seeing their student alive. As long as they can get their paycheck, the world looks like a place to enjoy.

Given this degradation in Pakistan of a profession as sacred as teaching, how could these teachers still demand a 20 percent increase in pay? For good reason, their pays should be cut down by the demanded proportion to make them realize where they stand now and where they ought to be.