The Punjab Teachers’ Union has expressed its reservations against the Schools Education Department for ‘the department’s failure to honour its commitment to communicate in writing solutions to the union’s complaints’.
The PTU says that the SED representatives had agreed to do so during a round of talks. However, a document the union received from the department on April 6 contained only minutes of those meetings, and did not propose any solutions or a way forward for the negotiations, PTU president Rana Liaquat Ali told The Express Tribune.
He said the ongoing protest would continue till all demands put forth by the union were met. He said the union had called a meeting later this month to devise a strategy in this regard.
The document, a copy of which is available with The Tribune, states that negotiations were held over the issue of uplift of educational standards at public schools, teachers’ promotions, establishment of district education authorities, transfer of management of some primary schools to the Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) partners and penalties for teachers very poor performance.
The document says that the department will make all out efforts to redress genuine grievances of the union. It calls upon the teachers to work with dedication for the revival of public education in the province.
The SED secretary has been cited in the document as having assured the union that no government school would be privatised. However, he said that the management of some primary schools performing poorly was being handed over to the private sector through the PEF for a period of two to three years. He assured the union that no teacher would be laid off in the process.
The document also mentioned the decision to establish a committee to look into the matter of imposing penalties on teachers who fail to do well in the exams administered by the Punjab Examination Commission (PEC).
With reference to the union’s demand for salary raises and a better service structure for teachers, the document says that the department would review the matter and formulate recommendations as per government’s rules and policies.
PTU president Liaquat Ali said the talks that lasted for a couple of months had ended February this year. He said the department had been asked to put down in writing its proposals for the issues discussed during the talks. Instead of doing so, he said, the department had sent them minutes of the meetings. “This appears to be a ploy to disrupt the protests,” he said.
On the transfer of management of some schools to PEF partners, he said it was a case of privatisation of public shools. He said the schools to be transferred to the PEF were being run by a single teacher each. He said instead of hiring more teachers to improve standards at these schools the department had decided to transfer them to the PEF partners.
SED Secretary Abdul Jabbar Shaheen was not available for comments.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2016.
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