LAHORE: Teachers’ unions are accusing the government of forcing them to buy tickets for a cricket match to be played on Saturday to raise funds for the people displaced by an ongoing offensive in North Waziristan.
This is the second time this month that teachers have said that they are being pressed to contribute for the internally-displaced persons (IDPs).
Earlier this month, they had protested against the government accusing it of forcing them to donate for the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund for the IDPs.
The Punjab Sports Board has already arranged two exhibition matches in Rawalpindi and Multan on July 19 and July 21. A ticket costs Rs500.
“Teachers have already contributed to the chief minister’s fund. They should not be burdened further,” said Rana Liaquat Ali, the Punjab Teachers’ Union secretary general.
“We acknowledge government’s efforts for the IDPS… but it should not make it obligatory for us to donate.”
Punjab Sports Board Director General Usman Anwar denied the allegations.
“No one is being forced to buy tickets or donate funds. However, they can volunteer if they want to help the IDPs,” Anwar told The Express Tribune.
“Why would we force teachers to buy tickets when there is already a huge demand for them?” he said. Anwar said educational institutions were being mobilised to participate in relief activities.
The Punjab Sports Board said it had only asked teachers to help sell tickets. It said 25,000 people had seen the match in Rawalpindi and more than 27,000 in Multan. It expects at least 20,000 spectators in Lahore.
A union official said nearly 10,000 tickets would be sold to teachers through school principals.
“During the campaign to collect donations for the chief minister’s fund, the authorities had threatened teachers with suspension from service if they did not contribute,” the official said requesting anonymity.
Education Executive District Officer Pervaiz Akhtar said the department had not forced teachers to buy tickets. Their help would only be sought to sell tickets, he said.
The EDO said 2,000 tickets had been reserved for schools and 6,000 for higher education institutes. Of the 2,000 tickets, he said only 1,000 were for public sector schools.
The EDO said ticket holders would get shirts, caps and drinks during the match.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2014.