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November 25, 2017
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Teachers’ protest

Editorial

November 25, 2017

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Most of our governments are happy denying the rights of educators, and the Sindh government seems to be not much different. We have lost count of the number of times stories of protesting teachers marching on the streets have been reported. We have similarly lost count of the number of times protesting teachers have been baton-charged, tear-gas shelled, arrested and otherwise denied the right to protest. We do not remember any stories of their legitimate demands having been met. In Sindh, it has become a tragic story that shows how little priority the provincial government places on education. On Thursday, the story when teachers marching on to the Sindh Assembly to demand unpaid salaries since 2012 were baton-charged. Police arrested at least 25 teachers while another ten were injured. Two months earlier, the education secretary had promised that the unpaid salaries would be paid by November 16. This has not happened. The story is a rather strange one. In 2012, the Sindh education minister appointed around 6,750 employees, including teachers, to the Education and Literacy Department. The appointments were made against vacant posts in the education department. However, none of the teachers has ever been paid.
The problems started when the Sindh government decided to scrutinise all the appointments once again. A committee was formed, which decided that only 3,600 of the appointees were legitimate while the other 1,600 were not. This report was rejected by the then education secretary. This left the new appointees in the lurch. Petitions were filed in the Sindh High Court but the issue has never been satisfactorily resolved. While the teachers claim to have continued to perform their duties, including being assigned for the 2013 general elections and population census this year, their salaries have not been paid. The perspective of the Sindh government remains that there is a serious problem of ghost recruitments in the province. The Sindh education minister has

claimed that there are 11,000 ghost recruitments in Karachi alone and 23,000 in the province. There is no doubt that ghost schools and ghost teachers are a serious and legitimate issue. But to claim that not paying formally recruited teachers is a way of dealing with the issue is to beat about the bush. Both are two separate issues. If people are hired without the requisite skills, there is a way to deal with that transparently. And they are not the only ones to be punished; those who hired them in the first place must also answer. Witholding salaries is hardly a solution.

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