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May 9, 2015

Teachers protest govt’s ‘anti-education’ policy

Lahore

 
May 9, 2015

LAHORE
A large number of schoolteachers holding a protest demo and sit-in strongly protested against the Punjab government especially Secretary Schools Abdul Jabbar Shaheen for what they termed the latter’s anti-teacher and anti-education policies and indifferent attitude. The teachers had gathered in the provincial metropolis from different parts of the province and reached Faisal Chowk near the Punjab Assembly in the form of a rally on the call of Muttahida Mahaz Asataza Punjab (MMAP), a consortium of different teachers’ associations in Punjab.
The protest started after the Jumma prayer and continued till filing of this report causing traffic mess on The Mall and many adjacent roads for hours. Carrying banners and placards the schoolteachers chanted slogans against the government and Secretary Schools for not addressing their issues despite repeated demands.
The hot weather and direct sun could not deter the protesting teachers from raising voice for their rights. Reportedly, one of the teachers, Rafique, fell unconscious owing to hot weather and was taken to a nearby hospital. The teacher leaders, including MMAP Chairman Tariq Mahmood and Hafiz Ghulam Mohyuddin of the Punjab Teachers Union (PTU) addressed the sit-in participants and strongly criticised the government and secretary schools for ignoring the plight of the schoolteachers.
A senior member of MMAP Hafiz Abdul Nasir, who is also former Chairman of MMAP and President of Senior Staff Association (SSA), talking to The News said the teachers would continue their protest until the chief minister or chief secretary listen to their concerns and solve their problems on priority basis. He said the MMAP was conveyed to have a meeting with Secretary Schools Abdul Jabbar Shaheen but the same was rejected as the teachers were protesting against him (Secretary Schools) as he was not serious to solve their problems.
It is pertinent to mention here that MMAP has been demanding the government to

include teachers in education policy making. The other demands include provision of time scale and revision of pay scale and the provision of scale 14 to Primary School Teachers (PST), scale 16 to Elementary School Teacher (EST) and 17 to Secondary School Teacher (SST). The schoolteachers have also strong concerns vis-à-vis casual leave and other leave observing the same were not being granted despite provision in their service. There is also growing concern among teachers for disciplinary action against them on the basis of result of Punjab Examination Commission’s Class-5 and Class-8 examinations. They argued that the PEC had always failed to hold a well-managed exam ever since inception but the teachers were penalised on the basis of performance of students in the two exams.
It is also important to mention here the secretary schools recently held a meeting with one of the teachers’ groups, Punjab Teachers Union (PTU-Kazmi Group), and later issued a notification claiming to have reached some sort of agreement vis-à-vis the demands of the teachers but the same was rejected by the MMAP. The MMAP has been expressing concerns vis-à-vis victimisation of protesting teachers by the School Education Department on the orders of Secretary Schools. The News could not reach Secretary Schools Abdul Jabbar Shaheen despite repeated attempts on his cell phone. When contacted Additional Secretary (Education Reforms) Ahmad Ali Kamboh, claimed almost all the demands of the teachers had been accepted. He said, however, some teachers were doing politics which was unfortunate.
The MMAP protest continued till filing of this report and it was stated by the teachers that they would march towards the nearby CM Secretariat today (Saturday).

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