LAHORE: Scores of public school teachers staged a sit-in on The Mall on Saturday to protest what they called privatisation of schools and the establishment of Daanish School System.
A PTU spokesperson told The Express Tribune that they would disperse at midnight but would return in the morning and stay at the Charing Cross till midnight on Sunday.
The protesting teachers carried banners and placards with slogans against the provincial government and shouted slogans against what they described as privatisation of schools. Speaking to the Tribune, PTU president Rana Liaquat Ali said the teachers had decided to take to the streets because they felt that the government’s policies were destroying the public education system in the province. He said they would continue their protest till their demands were met.
He said the PTU was opposed to the policy of transferring management of schools showing good performance in the Punjab Examination Commission (PEC) exams to the private sector. He said the teachers expected the chief minister to take notice of the situation and prevent the collapse of the public education system. Ali said if the government did not meet the union’s demands the union would be left with no option but to announce a complete shutdown of public schools.
He said the government had yet to deliver on its promise of revising the basic pay scale of school teachers. He said teachers were not happy with initiatives like the Literacy and Numeracy Drive (LND).
Ali said it was the government’s responsibility to provide quality education. However, he said, the government was shirking its responsibility. He also criticised the government for blaming teachers for the poor condition of public schools. He said that instead of focusing its energies on improving the public education infrastructure the government was handing it over to the private sector.
Muhammad Amin, one of the protesters, said that the government was just transferring schools set up on valuable properties to the private sector. “Why isn’t the government handing over the management of poor performing schools instead?” he asked.
Meanwhile, traffic on The Mall was diverted to adjacent roads because of the blockade at the Charing Cross.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2016.