The Punjab government is considering a proposal to retire all public schoolteachers over 55 years of age, The News has learnt.
Sources privy to the development said an important meeting was held at the office of Punjab School Education secretary recently. They said the plan was at an initial phase and would be finalized after due deliberations.
They said the department is calculating financial liabilities and other formalities at the moment.
The sources said the move is aimed at controlling the ever-growing financial burden on the government, which is spending almost Rs 250 billion on salaries of schoolteachers alone, on an annual basis.
They said the amount is likely to jump to Rs 300 billion in the upcoming budget. Major chunk of the amount goes to schoolteachers having maximum years in service as their annual increments and other perks keep growing over the years.
Sources said the government might announce the decision in the upcoming budget. There are around 50,000 schoolteachers in the province, who are over 55 years of age. Of them, around 10,000 are serving in BPS-17 and above while the rest are in BPS-16 and below.
An official, seeking anonymity, termed the plan “rightsizing” adding the government has a plan to recruit young teachers.
He said a schoolteacher in BPS-17 and over 55 years of age is getting around Rs 100,000 per month, while at least three young teachers could be adjusted in the same amount.
The official said the interest level of the teachers over 55 years also goes down with the passage of time. “Our plan is to induct fresh people into the system to improve their efficiency,” he added.
He said another advantage of the young lot is that they would be highly qualified unlike their predecessors.
When contacted, Punjab School Education Minister Dr Murad Raas said the department is weighing different options with the aim of improving school education and giving the best to the children in public schools.
He said the government is spending over Rs 250 billion annually on the salaries of schoolteachers. “Our plan is to optimize this amount for the betterment of our education system, which was destroyed deliberately during the last 10 years,” he claimed.
To a question, the minister said presently there are only discussions over the proposal of retiring schoolteachers, who are over 55 years of age.