The suspension of 54 schoolteachers, who refused to be a part of an anti-polio drive that started on July 15, was stopped by the Lahore High Court Rawalpindi Bench on Thursday.
Justice Ibadur Rehman Lodhi restrained the Punjab education department from taking any action against the teachers. Justice Lodhi issued notices to ministry of law principal officer, secretary health, secretary education, director-general health services, district officer (DO) health, district coordination officer (DCO) Rawalpindi, executive district officer (EDO) education, EDO finance and planning and EDO works and services, asking them for their input in the matter.
In their petition, the teachers said that the constitution gives priority to free education for children between four to 16 years of age. However, the Punjab government, through a notification (No 989) on July 12, 2012, initiated disciplinary proceedings against them under Punjab Employees Efficiency Act 2006 for refusing to take part in a polio eradication campaign and other work. They urged the court to declare the action against them unlawful.
‘Suspension of teachers who worked’
Moreover, eight female teachers of a primary school in Ranial village, who say they performed duties during the campaign, were suspended five days ago by the Elementary Female DO on the directions of the Rawalpindi DCO.
Their area manager complained that they did not perform their duties on July 18, Punjab Teachers Union President Chaudhry Saghir Alam said. The teachers, however, contended that they worked on the three designated days of the campaign, from July 15 to 18. They went home on July 18 only after getting permission from their area manager.
They alleged that they are being victimised, even though they worked all day in the summer heat during vacations, Alam said.
He added that the heat even claimed the life of one schoolteacher on July 17, while he was on polio duty. Faqir Muhammad, a teacher of Government Boys Middle School Murree Brewery who is in his mid 50s, died of heart failure as he was out administering polio drops to children, Alam said.
EDO Education Qazi Zahoorul Haq was not available for comment despite repeated attempts.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2012.