MINGORA: Primary schoolteachers in Swat have refused to participate in the polio vaccination drive in the district and carry arms to school for students’ safety.
Members of the All Primary Teachers Association (APTA) protested outside Swat Press Club on Tuesday and said they were not willing to take part in the vaccination drive and would not accept a deduction from their salaries.
Leading the protest, a senior member of the association, Ibrahim Shah Bacha, said providing security to schools is the responsibility of the government, not teachers.
APTA Swat Spokesperson Zafarullah Khan added the polio duty is the collective responsibility of all in the education department, not just primary schoolteachers. “We are just asking the government to involve all middle and high school teachers in the drive as well,” said Khan.
He added keeping a gun in the classroom while teaching would have a negative impact on the minds of children. “There will be a gun in front of them while they are holding books in their hands. What will the children think?” he questioned.
APTA President General Secretary Roidad Khan said, “If our demands are not fulfilled by February 28, we will shut down all schools in the district and protest on the provincial level.”
The protesting teachers do not want their salaries deducted for not participating in the drive. They asked teachers of a senior level also participate in the campaign and lashed out at the government for not promoting them in a timely fashion from grade 12 to 15. They also criticised the executive district officer for misbehaving with them.
However, Swat DC Mehmood Aslam Wazir said no excuse will be acceptable for not taking part in the polio drive. Wazir said administering the vaccine is the responsibility of all line departments. “All teachers will take part in the drive. Strict action will be taken against those who refuse,” the DC told The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2015.
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