LAHORE: The Punjab Teachers’ Union (PTU) is set to stage a 36-hour-long sit-in before the Provincial Assembly (PA) on Saturday (today).
The union’s move comes in the wake of government plans to “privatise” public schools across the Punjab. PTU president Liaquat Ali said schoolteachers were planning to protest against the antics of the government. He said schoolteachers had been protesting against the government as it was wreaking havoc on public education. Ali said the government had been handing over public schools to NGOs and private concerns using the instrument of the Punjab Education Foundation (PEF).
He said schoolteachers had been demonstrating across the Punjab over the last month. Ali said now they would congregate outside the PA and continue to protest till the government went back on its decision to “privatise” public schools. He said the sit-in at the venue would continue for a mammoth 36 hours.
The PTU president said that the government had promised to revise basic pay scales of schoolteachers but nothing had been done on this account to date. He said the policies of the Literacy and Numeracy Drive (LND) and the PEF had proved to be detrimental to schoolteachers. Ali said they were being forced to shoulder more responsibilities than they could bear. He said that it was unfortunate that neither School Education Department (SED) Secretary Abdul Jabbar Shaheen nor School Education Minister Rana Mashhood had the time to listen to their grievances. He said their protests had only been met with silence on part of the government.
When asked if any government official had contacted the union, he said no one had contacted the union so far. He said Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif was being kept in the dark by SED officials and being presented with fudged figures. Ali said punitive action was being taken against schoolteachers on uncorroborated reports of monitoring and evaluation assistants (MEAs). He said teachers had been pushed to the wall and had no option but to protest.
Ali said imparting education was the primary responsibility of a schoolteacher but schools were being handed-over to the private sector through the PEF. He said public schools were being gradually eliminated slowly under the garb of public-private partnerships. Ali said that the government was deliberately destroying public schools.
He said schoolteachers were being victimised. Ali said the government had left them overburdened while failing to shoulder any responsibility itself.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 14th, 2016.