Extra marks on gender basis
THIS is in response to the letter ‘Teachers recruitment in Sindh’ (Feb 1) by a candidate. The candidate has floated a balanced four-point agenda for making the recruitment process transparent.
I would advance the discourse by focusing on the policy of awarding 20 marks for gender to female candidates announced by chief programme manager, Reform Support Unit (RSU) through a press release on Feb 4.
It is a general practice to weigh the effectiveness of a policy through comparative analysis against set standards.
The policy is continued if the analysis yields positive results and is discontinued in case the result is otherwise.
It insinuates that the RSU has taken the decision without weighing the effectiveness of awarding 20 unearned marks for gender to female candidates during the previous recruitment process carried out in 2010. The award of unearned gender marks made the equation of merit highly skewed towards female candidates.
This came to serve to the detriment of merit where a male candidate scoring 80 marks came equal to a female candidate who merely secured 60 marks – which are the minimum passing marks.
In 2010, selected female candidates were posted at schools in far-off rural areas, but they did not turn up for duty, terming it inconvenient to commute from their urban residence.
A phenomenon of teacher absenteeism locally known as ‘teachers on visa’ surfaced whereby those female candidates paid a negotiable slice of their monthly salary to their respective assistant district officers (education) to remain absent from duty. Thus, the policy of gender marks proved counterproductive as it could not accomplish the desired goals.
The ongoing process of recruiting teachers in Sindh under the aegis of the World Bank envisages the reopening of those schools which are closed for want of teachers or face shortage of teachers.
Need-based vacancies are overwhelmingly available in rural areas which house a large number of closed schools.
It would, therefore, be suicidal to continue with an unpromising policy this time around.
I would request the secretary of education department, Sindh, and chief programme manager, RSU, to abolish the policy for gender marks so that the goals of recruitment of teachers can be accomplished on merit. It is hoped that sanity and merit will prevail.