‘Ban’ on holidays stumps professors

Officials asked to ‘discourage’ college staff from applying for holidays

Ammar Sheikh May 10, 2018

LAHORE: An order issued by the Punjab Director Public Instructions (Colleges) on Wednesday, discouraging teachers from applying for leaves during summer vacations in the wake of the upcoming general elections, has left college instructors across the province baffled.

The order, issued to all the directors of education (colleges), deputy directors of education (colleges) and principals of colleges asked officials to ‘discourage’ staff from applying for leaves during summer vacations in the province.

“The sanctioning process of all kinds of leaves for staff should be discouraged during summer vacations in the wake of the general elections 2018,” the order stipulated. “This is to ensure the working strength of staff assigned for election duties,” it continued.

The directives also single out those individuals who have applied for a leave for absence in order to travel to a foreign country.

“Therefore, all kinds of leaves, and particularly ex-Pakistan leave, during summer vacations, be restricted which can ispo facto hinder the smooth conduction of the general elections 2018 due to a lack of staff”

Officials have been told to follow the instructions in letter
and in spirit.

‘Ban’ on holidays stumps professors

Interestingly, the orders do not specify whether or not the concerned officials are expected to entertain any leave applications they may receive.

However, the ambiguity of the directives has left many puzzled as to whether the orders stipulate a blanket ban or whether the concerned departments will make a few exceptions in rare cases.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Punjab Professors and Lecturers Association (PPLA) President Hafiz Abdul Khaliq said that the orders require further clarification by the government since most college lecturers and professors remain on duty during summer vacations.

Further, he was of the opinion that the orders referred only to those teachers who will be on election duty.

The elections are in July; it is way too early to place any restrictions on leaves. Even the month of Ramazan will end before the election, he articulated.

He went on to say that the government should accommodate those who had genuine reasons, such as employees seeking maternity or
sick leave.

Even those who are too old to perform duties or nearing retirement should also be exempted, he expressed.

Unavoidable circumstances should be taken into consideration while imposing restrictions. “For an ex-Pakistan leave, instructors planning to perform Umrah should be exempted,” he maintained.

However, seeking refuge in clouds of confusion cast, Khaliq is not
yet worried.

“Because the orders are not clear, there is no need to react or panic,” he stated.

Punjab Director Public Instructions (Colleges) Muhammad Nasrullah Virk, who issued the instructions, was contacted several times to clarify the directives issued.

However, he did not respond to The Express Tribune’s request for
a comment.

Earlier, the Punjab School Education Department (SED) had halted the transfers of schoolteachers so that they could receive election training by the Election Commission of Pakistan.

The SED has also postponed its School Leadership Development Programme under the Quaid-i-Azam Academy for Educational Development due to the ongoing election training of teachers
in Punjab.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2018.


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