Teachers launch protest drive against privatisation

Say govt move akin to denying key universal right to underprivileged pupils

Qaiser Shirazi May 19, 2024


A collective of teachers' organisations has announced a province-wide protest movement starting today against the handing over of 13,000 government schools to non-government organisations (NGOs), calling it an attempt to privatise public education.

A joint action committee comprising leaders from the Punjab Teachers Union, Punjab Educators Association, and SS Teachers Association has been formed to spearhead the protests and sit-ins.

From Monday (today), teachers will perform their duties wearing black bands on their arms as a symbol of protest. The joint action committee will release an action plan for the protest movement, which comes as the education department has invited applications from NGOs, personalities, and educated youth to take over the schools by June 5, with the aim of completing the privatisation process by June 30.

Teachers union leaders Muhammad Shafiq Bhalwalia and Malik Amjad have expressed concerns that the privatisation of schools will lead to the commercialisation of school property, worth billions of rupees, and result in increased fees for children, a rise in out-of-school children from 205 million to 300 million, and the destruction of the education system. They said the government’s move is akin to denying a crucial universal right to children.

They also fear that teachers and non-teaching staff will be reduced, with the government planning to retain only 10,000 schools under its custody.

The teachers' organisations have accused the government of deviating from its promise, made by Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz before coming into power, to not privatise schools. They demand the immediate cancellation of the privatisation plan, citing concerns over the impact on the education sector and the welfare of teachers and students.

The move drew severe criticism after the previous caretaker government pushed forward with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf Government’s plan to privatise schools in various phases.

The Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz leaders had promised to halt the process, but after into power, they backpedalled on their pledges.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 20th, 2024.


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