LAHORE: The Punjab Teachers’ Unions ended their sit-in on Sunday evening after what they said were successful negotiations with the provincial government over privatisation of schools and upgrade in their basic pay scales.
Teachers from across the province had gathered at Charing Cross on The Mall on Saturday. Their sit-in had continued the entire day. They had dispersed at midnight but resumed the protest early on Sunday.
The participants had carried placards and banners with slogans against government’s decision to hand over management of public schools to the Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) and the Daanish School System.
Schools Education Minister Rana Mashhood said the government had persuaded the teachers to end the protest. He said there had been a misunderstanding that the government was privatising schools. “We have accepted their [the PTU’s] legitimate demands and assured them that no school will be privatised and no teacher will be fired,” he said. He said they had addressed the union’s concerns regarding job security. “They have been assured that their jobs will remain secure,” he said.
Mashhood dismissed as a misunderstanding the suggestion that the government was handing over schools set up on valuable land to the PEF or the Daanish School System. He said that only schools showing poor performance were being handed over to the PEF and the Daanish School System. He said the move was expected to improve the performance of these schools. Mashhood said that an Education Department delegation would meet union representatives on Wednesday to further discuss the matter.
PTU central president Syed Sajjad Kazmi said the government had agreed to meet their demands. He said the minister had assured the union that no school would be privatised. He said the minister had also assured then that no school would be handed over to the PEF with the union’s consent.
Kazmi said the government had agreed to upgrade the teachers’ basic pay scale and to form a committee to review its decisions on schools already handed over to the PEF and Daanish School System. No school with more than 20 students would be handed over to these authorities, he said.
Earlier on Sunday, Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed joined the PTU activists to express solidarity with their cause. Addressing the sit-in, he urged the government to fulfill all legitimate demands of the union.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 16th, 2016.