Hundreds of teachers staged a protest demonstration outside the Punjab Assembly on Thursday against what they called the government’s lack of seriousness in resolving issues related to teachers.
They started gathering outside the assembly around noon. The protest was called by the Punjab Teachers’ Union to protest the fact that a committee constituted to resolve their grievances had failed to come up with its recommendations.
The committee which was constituted in April has met only once.
Talking to The Express Tribune, PTU general secretary Rana Liaquat Ali said the government and the School Education Department had not responded well to the union. “The department has turned extremely aggressive. Its officials are threatening teachers of action against them if they participated in the protest,” he said.
Ali said show-cause notices had been issued on Thursday morning by the department officials to teachers who were not found in classes. “This is victimisation and harassment of teachers,” said Jamshed Akhtar Babar, a PTU leader from Muzaffargarh. Babar said negotiation with teachers was a pretence of the government. “They are not serious about resolving our issues. We would not be on the streets just a month of our previous protests if there was progress,” he said. The PTU had staged two protests earlier in April after which the Education Minister Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan had formed the four-member committee to resolve the issues.
The teachers want the government to revisit its policies on non-academic duties, ensuring 100 per cent attendance and rationalisation of teachers’ strength.
A primary school teacher from Lahore said if a student attendance was found absent by a monitoring team, a day’s salary was deducted.
“Children are being provisionally promoted to the next grade but teachers are being penalised by holding back their promotions for two or three years depending upon the number of students in their classes,” said a primary school teacher. The protestors said that they would not leave until their issues were resolved. The sit-in continued into the night on Thursday.
“We were told in the afternoon that Rana Mashhood would speak to us but it has been five hours,” said Ali.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2014.