In what appears to be a vindictive act against the protesting teachers, the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University (SBBU) has terminated the services of 10 of its 14 teaching faculty members.
The teachers were fired citing “unsatisfactory performance”, as the nascent university’s debut batch, enrolled in three bachelor’ degree programmes, sits the first semester exams.
The entire group of 12 BPS-18 teachers appointed on regular basis during January and February has now been sacked. Of the 12 recruited, one left the job on a foreign scholarship, while another, Anwar Mangrio, was removed in March. The four teachers still left at the SBBU are all serving on contractual basis.
Preceding the drama
The higher education institution in the Benazirabad district plunged into chaos when its new vice chancellor, Arshad Saleem Arain, took charge in February. He was initially appointed as the controller examinations at the varsity, but was allegedly elevated without due process,
Lecturer Anwar Mangrio, who led the teachers protest against the contravention of rules, was the first to face the music as he lost his job in late March. His termination order was followed by the dismissal of SBBU registrar Kehar Khan Khoso on June 8.
Khoso’s dismissal sparked further protests at the university. During a demonstration at the campus held to condemn the removal of Khoso, at least 12 students and three teachers were injured during a clash with the police. The varsity management later nominated 63 people, including 13 SBBU employees with five teachers among them, for fomenting violence at the campus in an FIR at A-Section police.
“We have not been allowed to enter the university since the day we demonstrated during a syndicate meeting to condemn the registrar’s removal,” claimed Dalail Jatoi, who was one of the lecturers arrested by the police, but released on bail later. “The university is working with a faculty of four contractual teachers,” he commented sarcastically.
The teachers believe that Arain is a favourite of MNA Azra Fazal Pechuho, who sits in the university’s syndicate. Hameed Akhtar Sanjrani, a business administration lecturer, alleged that in their very first meeting, the vice chancellor had warned the teachers that Pechucho has given him a free hand.
The latest episode
All the 10 regular lecturers at the SBBU were issued their termination letters on June 19 that they received through the post on June 20 (Wednesday). The only reason cited in the order was “unsatisfactory performance during the probationary period… terminated with immediate effect”.
The teachers have vowed to challenge their sacking in the Sindh High Court.
While talking to The Express Tribune, Mangrio argued that performance is not the actual reason for their termination. “Our only fault is the opposition to the vice chancellor, who lacks the qualification and the experience necessary for the post,” he claimed.
Condemning the lecturers’ sacking, the Sindh general secretary of Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association, Dr Azhar Ali Shah, said the university’s syndicate is incomplete and is unfairly tilted against the teachers. “The 20-member syndicate is working with only 12 members, five of whom are elected representatives and one is a relative of the President,” he added.
The SBBU Act passed by the Sindh Assembly in 2010 stipulates the representation of professors, associate professors and assistant professors in the varsity syndicate, but a single teacher is yet to be appointed on the posts.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 22nd, 2012.
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