The Impact of 2002 National Teacher Contract Policy Reform on Teacher Absenteeism in Lahore, Pakistan Open Access
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Teacher absenteeism is a persistent problem in Pakistani government schools. Under a new policy, teachers hired in Pakistani schools after 2002 are hired on fixed term contracts that are renewed, in part, based on low absenteeism. This study uses qualitative analysis techniques to assess the impact of contractual hiring on teacher absenteeism based on the perceptions of teachers and principals from a sample of schools in Lahore, Pakistan. In-depth interviews of 16 contract teachers, 16 regular teachers, and 8 principals from a representative sample of 8 schools were conducted. Absenteeism among teachers with contracts was found to be only moderately lower than among regular teachers. Some features of the contract policy, such as fewer options for leave, greater authority of the school principal to check absenteeism of contract teachers, merit-based hiring, and the threat of nonrenewal, were perceived to reduce absenteeism. The contract policy did not address other perceived causes of teacher absence, such as insufficient allowance for female teachers' transportation and family responsibilities, dissatisfaction with students' weak academic backgrounds, and deficient government policies. Respondents identified lower salaries for contract teachers than tenured teachers despite higher qualifications, as encouraging absenteeism. The policy of contractual hiring was perceived to cause frequent resignation of contract teachers. Overall, it was found that the contract policy had relatively little impact on teacher absenteeism.