Dozens of teachers protested in front of the press club on Wednesday against ‘privatisation’ of schools.
The protestors, led by the Punjab Teachers’ Union (PTU), said the government must stop privatisation of public schools. They said the status of teachers would decline further following privatisation of more schools.
They also said provision of education was the responsibility of the state. “The government is avoiding this responsibility by privatising more schools in the province,” they said.
Talking to newsmen, PTU president Allah Bakhsh said that the Punjab government was continuously “selling” public schools to NGOs through the Punjab Education Foundation (PEF). He said that teachers would not allow the government to do this and would protest privatisation at all forums.
Bakhsh said the PEF had privatised 5,000 schools across the province. He said the government was not letting public schools operate ‘freely’.
“Privatisation has made education inaccessible to a section of the society,” he said.
The PTU president said the government had been firing teachers despite promising that they would not be laid off.
Bakhsh said that the government had fired 300 teachers in Sargodha on the direction of the DCO.
“The government claims that it wants to raise the education standards. This cannot be done if there are no teachers in classrooms,” he said. “The government is trying to justify privatisation by undermining public education.”
He said teachers would continue to protest over this issue.
“Teachers already face financial hardship. The government is making it harder for them to survive,” he said.
Bakhsh said Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif should take notice of this and save the education sector. He asked the chief minister to stop privatisation of schools.
“Privatisation will only make schooling more expensive. More children will be deprived of education instead of gaining access to it,” he said.
Some of the protesting teachers them said that tough exams were being set for students so that their teachers could be shown in a bad light.
They said teachers were denied of competitive salaries and perks available to other government officials.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2015.