KARACHI: Law enforcement officials adopted their preferred method of crowd-control — namely the use of batons and water cannons — on hundreds of primary teachers as the latter attempted to march towards the Governor House on Tuesday. Police arrested 11 protesters from Strachan Road and locked them up in the Artillery police station.
The protesters had been demanding appointment letters for teaching posts across 16 districts in the province for the last three years, and finally brought their protest to Karachi on Tuesday.
The Sindh government had announced 14,000 vacancies for primary school teachers in 2008. The Sindh University conducted aptitude tests in May 2009 and said that candidates scoring more than 60 per cent on the exams would be hired.
However, after the results came out, extra marks were allegedly awarded to candidates who had bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education, and a total of 6,500 teachers were appointed. Meanwhile, the remaining 7,500 vacancies were not filled, even though thousands of other applicants had achieved the requisite test scores and had degrees in fields other than education. When the rest of the successful candidates protested across different districts of the province, they were told that their names had been put on a “waiting list” and that they would be given appointment letters whenever a schedule for new expenditure was approved.
However, the general secretary of the group formed by the protesters, Ali Raza Larak, appeared baffled that the Sindh education department had invited fresh applications for 19,000 new teaching posts in the province. Larak, who has a master’s degree in English literature from Sindh University, told The Express Tribune that the candidates had also knocked on the doors of courts of law against the government. “The Sindh High Court had recently issued an order that barred the government from appointing any further primary teachers till August 8, 2012. However, the education minister and his subordinates are paying no heed to the court’s order.
The Sindh education department, meanwhile, appeared adamant that recruitment for the vacancies would now be done on the basis of the Teachers’ Recruitment Policy 2012, which was approved by Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah.
The provincial education minister Pir Mazharul Haq claimed that the recruiting process for primary teachers, which had started in 2008, was complete. “Securing 60 per cent marks was not the only criteria for the appointment. Vacancies in [schools] in respective union councils and [a candidate’s] standing on the merit list for their respective union council also mattered.”
Meanwhile, the protesters outside the city’s elusive red zone hardly controlled their anger against the Pakistan Peoples Party-led government. “When the party was about to take part in elections, Aziz Ahmed Jatoi, who later won the provincial assembly seat, used to send a car for us to run the campaign day and night,” alleged Sajan Khan Mugheri, a senior PPP worker from Kamber Shahdadkot district.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2012.