Clash of schedules: Punjab schoolteachers spared from census duty

Will only supervise PEC exams; official says decision taken in ‘larger interest of education’

Our Correspondent February 04, 2017

LAHORE: The Punjab government has decided not to assign duties to teachers in the upcoming national census scheduled to start from March.

The decision was taken by Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and instructions have been forwarded to the School Education Department (SED).

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Lahore District Education Authority CEO Tariq Rafique said the decision was taken to ensure that teachers performed duties in the Punjab Examination Commission (PEC) exams.

He said the census duties would be performed by other public department employees and not the teachers. “The teachers will only be engaged for the PEC exams in the period,” he said, adding the decision was taken in the ‘larger interest of education’.

An email has also been sent out to SED officials that no teacher shall perform census duty nor get the training already scheduled.

In a statement, the Punjab Teachers’ Union (PTU) termed the move ‘a positive step’ that would decrease the burden of unrelated duties on schoolteachers. “We welcome the instructions issued by the chief minister banning assigning duties of schoolteachers for census 2017,” the statement said,

The union also urged Shehbaz to reconsider assigning teachers to other campaigns, including the Universal Primary Education (UPE) and enrolment campaign.

Under the campaigns, the teachers are asked to gather data of children in their area and try to enrol out-of-school children. The PTU demanded that teachers should only focus on educating children and such duties should not be assigned to them.

The 6th population and housing census is scheduled to begin in mid-March. Training has already started for the staff taking part in the first phase, which was scheduled to be completed by mid-April. The second phase is expected to start from April 24 and end in mid-May.

Interestingly, the decision to exempt schoolteachers from census duty comes days after the teachers unions warned of boycotting the population count against the government’s ‘anti-education’ policies.

Under the banner of United Teachers’ Council (UTC) led by a PTU faction, the teachers announced boycotting the census as well as the PEC examinations if their demands were not accepted by the government. They had also announced a protest on The Mall on February 28.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2017.

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