GILGIT: Sher Khan has been working as a schoolteacher in Diamer valley for more than 15 years. Yet all makes is Rs3,000 a month, which is less than half of the minimum wage for workers. To add insult to injury, he has not been paid for the past six months.
“Hundreds of teachers have been performing their duties for more than a decade now, hoping to be rewarded one day, but that day never comes and we can’t wait anymore,” said Khan, while talking to The Express Tribune outside the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA) on Monday.
As many as 300 teachers of Social Action Programme (SAP) from all parts of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) staged a sit-in outside GBLA, demanding regularisation of services and release of pending salaries.
The programme, launched by the federal government in 1994, aimed to increase literacy rate across the country. The project was handed over to the National Education Foundation in 2008.
According to official sources, as many as 50,000 students are currently enrolled in SAP schools in G-B.
“We have not been paid salaries since November 2011 and we won’t leave this place unless we are given our right,” said Haider Ali, a teacher who had travelled all the way from Skardu to take part in the demonstration.
A large number of lady teachers were participated in the protest. Accompanied by their children, they sat in the open in anticipation of a positive response from the government. But again, their plights fell on deaf ears.
The delegation representing the teachers was told to wait for a decision as the chief minister, who was busy holding a cabinet meeting in the assembly, was not available.
“We have been waiting for nearly two decades, how much more do they want us to wait?” questioned one of the delegation members.
G-B Education Minister Dr Ali Madad Sher, when contacted, said SAP was operating under the federal government, but the G-B government would do everything in its control to support the teachers.
“We will take up the issue in our upcoming meeting with federal ministers Manzoor Watto and Rehman Malik to resolve the issue,” he said, adding that the teachers should “show patience and maturity in this regard.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2012.
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