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November 7, 2019

College teachers seeking promotions thrashed, arrested as they march on CM House

Karachi

November 7, 2019

Police on Wednesday baton-charged and arrested more than a dozen of protesting college teachers who had staged a protest demanding promotions as per the time-scale formula defined in the Sindh Services Promotion Rules which is applicable to all the departments of the Sindh government.

The protest was led by a pressure group of college teachers, Coordination Committee for Time Scale. This committee is also a part of the Sindh Professors and Lecturers Association (SPLA). It has been demanding the implementation of the time-scale promotion formula in the Sindh college education department. However, leaders of SPLA want promotions in the department based on another formula.

Most of the protesting teachers had come from various districts of Sindh. First they gathered in front of the Karachi Press Club and later started marching on the Chief Minister House in small groups. They blocked the road for traffic and shouted slogans against the government.

Police violence

As the protesting teachers moved towards the red zone, the police force deputed in the surroundings the KPC tried to stop them.

Police said they were compelled to use teargas shells and water cannons against the protesting teachers when they tried to take the law into their hands and started their march towards the red zone.

The police also charged the protesters with batons to disperse them. According to District South SSP Sheraz Nazeer, the teachers had been warned multiple times by the police against blocking the road and marching towards the red zone but they continued their march, upon which the police took action against them.

The officer added that the women police were also present there to deal with the female protesters. A case was also registered against the protesters.

Promotion formulae

Talking to The News, Lecturers & Professors Forum Pakistan founder Prof Dr Vikram Kumar said, “We the college academic community, lecturers and professors, are gazetted officers and can even join the management cadre in the college education department while the rest of time-scale beneficiaries of other departments in the Sindh government like teachers of the school education department cannot join the management cadres even after promotions as per time-scale. Therefore, we either need time-scale or the revised four-tier promotion formulae.”

According to the time-scale formula, Prof Kumar said, lecturers are supposed to be promoted to assistant professors in the BPS-18 after seven-year service, to associate professors in the BPS-19 after 14-year service, and to the post of professors in BPS-20 after 19 years of service.

However, the lecturers and professors appointed in the colleges of Sindh are also demanding the revised four-tier formula as already implemented by the Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) governments with the yearly promotion ratio of three professors, 19 associate professors, 36 assistant professors, and 42 lecturers among 100 college teachers.

They demanded this ratio of promotions be included in the annual budget of the college education department and promotions in the department be made according to this formula, Prof Kumar said. He explained that using the time-scale formula will financially benefit those teachers most who have spent more time in service. It needs no Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC) or Board I to award upper grades to the college teachers.

At present, SPLA is demanding the implementation of the revised four-tier formula on the pattern of Punjab and KP while the Coordination Committee for Time Scale is demanding an immediate implementation of the time-scale formula for financial benefits. Prof Kumar said many positions of teachers are vacant in the province. The college education department is neither updating the seniority list nor filling the vacant posts through promotions, he added.

The coordination committee wants to get immediate financial benefits under the time-scale formula, under which they will able to avail financial incentives during their services at the college education department. On the other hand, SPLA demands the four-tier formula, under which teachers will be able to avail pension benefits after retirement with increased salaries. However, the time-scale formula and four-tier formula could be awarded simultaneously as the college teachers of KP and Punjab are already enjoying promotions based on the both formulae.

Government’s stance

After the police baton-charged and arrested protesting teachers, the Sindh information department issued a statement that read that in disregard of the Section 144 put in place for Chup Tazia, a group of government-run college teachers took out a protest rally and blocked main roads in District South in violation of general restrictions in place at the red zone of the city, causing huge inconvenience to the general public.

The statement added that the teachers were demanding promotion through time-scale and their case was already before the Sindh High Court since 2017 in which the Sindh government was also a respondent. The last hearing of the case was held on November 1, 2019, during which the court asked the college education department to submit details of promotions given to college teachers since 2017. The next hearing of the case has been fixed for November 15.

It was mentioned in the statement that the Sindh government had been giving regular promotions to college teachers in spite of poor examination results of government colleges over the years due to below-par performance of the college teachers. It was pointed out that on November 1, 2019, the college education secretary promoted 410 college teachers from grade 17 to grade 18.

In 2018, 600 college teachers were promoted to grade 18 whereas in the last three years, a total of 400 college teachers were promoted from grade 18 to grade 19. Similarly, 59 college teachers were promoted from grade 19 to 20 within 2 years, the statement read.

Besides, the process to promote 150 college teachers to grade 19 is under way and papers of another 65 college teachers are being prepared for their promotion to grade 20 in the next few weeks, the statement added.

The Sindh chief minister has also constituted a committee under the college education secretary for considering an increase in the number of seats of senior college teachers in all the government colleges of Sindh. The committee had meetings with representatives of college teachers on October 29 and 31.

The meeting of the college education secretary was held with advocates of promotions under the time-scale formula on October 30 wherein the secretary assured them that their genuine demands would be considered by the government while keeping in view financial realities and education requirements of Sindh. The teachers were, however, reminded that since time-scale case was sub judice, the college teachers would have to wait for the outcome of the case. The government claimed that the protesters want the posts of new lecturers abolished as the college education department recently requested the Sindh Public Service Commission to recruit 2,500 new college teachers, including 1,500 lecturers of various subjects.

Teachers’ version

A number of teachers at the protest said they educated the children of the nation and they only wanted their due rights but the government was not acknowledging their services and rights.

They lamented that the police baton-charged them on the orders of the provincial government and arrested many of their colleagues. They claimed that some of the protesting teachers were also injured by the police.

The teachers, however, vowed that they would indefinitely continue their protest outside the KPC until the government met their demands.

A teacher, Yawar Hussain, remarked actions speak louder than words. Though the Coordination Committee for Time Scale is demanding promotions based on the time-scale formula, the government is going to implement the four-tier formula which will benefit a certain group of college teachers and those who have been waiting for their promotions will suffer, he said. Hussain was of the view that the government was intending to award the four-tier formula only to stop the struggle of teachers for the time-scale promotions and discourage their true and sincere leaders.

SPLA condemns arrests

In the meantime, SPLA Karachi Chapter Information Secretary Azizullah Memon condemned the arrests and thrashing of the protesting teachers. He, however, distanced SPLA from the Coordination Committee for Time Scale, saying that the committee was not a formal part of SPLA and the association did not support the protest. He also maintained that SPLA had not issued any strike call at colleges today (Thursday).

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