Residents of the Khuda Bux Gadani village near Mirpur Mathelo in District Ghotki refused to allow medical teams to administer polio drops to their children as a token of protest against the unavailability of primary teachers in the village school for the last two years.
On Monday, when a polio team visited the village to administer polio drops to the children, the villagers refused to allow them entry. The residents told the polio team to pass their message to the district administration and tell them that there has been no primary schoolteacher in the village school for the last two years, due to which their children’s future is at stake. The residents said they will not allow a polio team to visit their village until the government appoints a primary teacher to teach at their school.
Members of the polio team, talking to the Mirpur Mathelo-based journalists, said that the number of children below the age of five years in the village is 136 and claimed to inform the control room about the incident. The residents, including, Allah Wadayo Gadani, Salman Gadani and Abdullah Gadani, told the journalists that, two years ago, the last school teacher passed away and since then no teacher had been posted at the school. “We have repeatedly requested the education authorities to post a teacher at the school but to no avail,” claimed one of the villagers. “We know the importance of polio drops but education is no less important.”
Ghotki district education officer Shahabuddin Indhar expressed ignorance at first and then claimed that a primary school teacher named Abdul Rasheed Gadani was posted at the school. “I have been informed that the residents have some problem with the teacher, due to which they are not allowing him to attend school,” he said, adding that he will send his subordinate to the school to verify the matter.
Officials claimed, however, that there is primary teacher named Abdul Rasheed Gadani but he is not performing his duty at the school in question. He is posted somewhere else, he said. Despite repeated attempts, the Ghotki deputy commissioner, Tahir Watto, could not be contacted for his comments.
“This is not a new thing for polio teams in rural areas,” said Sindh health secretary Saeed Ahmed Mangnejo. Cases where the teams are refused entry are common and the district administration will have to convince the villagers to get their children administrated polio drops first, he said. “This is a genuine demand but vaccinations are more important for their children,” he added.
For his part, education secretary Fazlullah Pechuho said that there are many schools established by the local government, which were not needed. Regarding this particular primary school, he claimed he cannot comment until he knows the school’s SEMIS code.
“The SEMIS code will tell me about the number of teachers who are appointed at the school and whether or not it is a workable school,” he added. If the school has no SEMIS code, it means it is non-viable, he added.
Polio drive in Hyd
In Hyderabad, the district health authorities have set a target of 310,559 children under the age of five for their three-day immunisation drive. The drive will be carried out with the help of 961 teams, which will go door to door, and 21 transit points.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2015.