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May 11, 2015

Schoolteachers in Punjab remain divided on their rights


May 11, 2015

LAHORE: The ongoing protest by Muttahida Mahaz Asataza Punjab (MMAP), which entered the third day on Sunday, has failed to attract government’s attention primarily because of division within the teaching community ranks.
With the Punjab Teachers Union (PTU-Ghulam Mohyuddin Group), Punjab Educators Association (PEA), Punjab SES Teachers Association and Tanzeem-e-Asataza, the MMAP teachers have been at Faisal Chowk near the Punjab Assembly since May 8 (day and night) protesting against, what the consortium believes, the government’s indifference towards the schoolteachers and school education.
On the other hand, the PTU-Kazmi Group, PTU-Allah Bakhsh Qaiser Group, Senior Staff Association (SSA) and Punjab Association of Subject Specialists (PASS), though having differences with each other, are siding with the government and are not part of the protest.
This clear division within the teachers surfaced after the May 6 meeting of the “anti-MMAP” groups with Secretary School Education Department Abdul Jabbar Shaheen after they got assurances vis-à-vis their demands from the secretary in black and white. However, the Muttahida Mahaz Asataza Punjab sees the meeting and its outcome as a mere decoy. The notification also directs EDOs to convene DPC meetings for uplift and upward mobility of teachers before May 31.
About regularisation of educators and officers, the notification states that a summary has been initiated for the Chief Minister in this regard. A major relief offered to the teachers and head teachers is related to pending of inquiries against them on the charges of poor results in the PEC exams and the decision of not imposing punishment such as compulsory retirement and removal/dismissal from service on the charge of poor results and dropout.
Talking to The News, the MMAP leaders termed the notification merely eyewash while the others commended the government for the same. The senior leaders of MMAP including Hafiz Abdul Nasir

(former chairman of MMAP) and Ghulam Mohyuddin Awan (PTU President) said the government had issued such notifications on various occasions in the past but never been implemented in true spirit.
Hafiz Abdul Nasir said promotions in many districts had been delayed for two to three years despite such notifications. He said the casual leaves despite provision in their service were not being granted and teachers applying for the same were being flatly refused.
The MMAP leaders also alleged that secretary schools was victimising the protesting teachers by initiating disciplinary action against them in their absence, hence the teachers were not ready to hold any kind of talks with him and would continue their “Save Education” protest till the chief minister himself or chief secretary or secretary to the CM personally listen to their grievances.
On the other hand, anti-MMAP groups are supporting the secretary schools after their meeting with him and believe that the government is serious in addressing their issues. According to Rana Liaquat of PTU-Kazmi Group, who had attended the May 6 meeting, the government by listening to them had showed its concern vis-à-vis problems being faced by the schoolteachers. He said it was hoped that the issues would be resolved soon.
On Sunday, a police contingent remained present near venue of the protest sit-in, Faisal Chowk, in a bid to foil any attempt from the MMAP to move towards the Governor’s House, where the oath-taking ceremony of the new governor was taking place. Besides others, CM Shahbaz Sharif attended the ceremony. The teachers’ protest continued near the Punjab Assembly till filing of the report. Secretary Schools Abdul Jabbar Shaheen was not available for comments.

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