With the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minimum Wages Act 2013 no longer applicable to private educational institutes, teachers are left at the mercy of school administrations.
To add to their miseries, there is no specific body to determine their salaries. According to the act, minimum wage is set at Rs12,000 a month and applies to all workers. However, on May 5, 2015, private educational institutions were exempt from this law.
The law was amended on the recommendation of QWP’s Meraj Humayun.
Without a voice
As it stands, private school teachers across the province are far less privileged in terms of perks and salary compared to those with secure jobs in government institutions.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Tahir Hassan, who has experience in teaching and is currently pursuing his PhD at Qurtaba University in Peshawar, says he taught for a pittance for three years. He confirms there is no law to protect teachers. “Private educational institutions only exploit teachers and offer very little salary for the heavy workload,” adds Hassan. He also can not help but draw a comparison to the attractive packages offered to government school teachers, who he claims work half as much.
Another private school teacher, Idrees Alam, says private institutions in urban areas give better salaries, but teaches in rural areas get a mere Rs5,000 a month.
He adds owners take advantage of the ever increasing unemployment in the province. Talking about the recent amendment to the minimum wage act, he slams Humayun and K-P Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, adding they both own private schools.
Alam demands the establishment of a specific body to keep a check on the working of private schools, colleges and universities.
An official of the K-P Directorate of Industries, Commerce and Labour, requesting anonymity, says private educational institutions were included in all labour wage related laws. He also criticised the QWP’s MPA for the amendment. The official says school owners exploit teachers at any given opportunity and now have the legal cover to continue doing so.
With all due respect
QWP MPA Meraj Humayun says the law was amended to separate teachers from industrial labourers. “Teaching is a respectable profession,” she says when contacted. “We should not use the word labour when referring to them,” says the MPA.
To a question, she responds the government should provide an education to their people and search for an alternative solution to the matter of framing regulations for private institutes.
Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) Peshawar Chairman Muhammad Shafi Afridi confirms there are no rules that apply to the salaries of teachers at private schools. He adds they have proposed an authoritative body that can fix salaries and the fee structure of these institutions.
Another official in the education sector confirmed there was one regulatory body, the Private Education Regulatory Authority (2010). However, he added, it was toothless.
About the fee structure, Afridi says plans are afoot to categorise all schools and make a final determination according to their standards.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 19th, 2015.