LAHORE, June 6: Schoolteachers on June 4 held a sit-in outside the Punjab Assembly against the privatisation of public sector schools and for improvement in their service structure.
A group of the Punjab Teachers Union (PTU) held the sit-in throughout the day causing massive traffic jam on adjoining roads of The Mall.
As the government has already agreed to accept the ‘just’ demands of schoolteachers earlier protesting under the banner of the PTU, none of the govt representatives visited the protesting teachers for talks.
The protesting teachers demanded an end to handing over public schools to the Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) and NGOs and transfer of teachers from such schools to other far-flung government schools. They also demanded improvement in their service structure, including promotions.
Led by Allah Bhaksh Qaiser, Taj Haider and Rai Mustafa, some 150 teachers from different districts staged the sit-in. They also complained of not being taken on board by the government in its talks with the other faction of PTU led by Syed Sajjad Kazmi.
PPP’s human rights wing office-bearers Naseer Ahmed, Mahjabeen, Ali Saeed and Usman Qureshi joined the sit-in to express solidarity with the teachers. They said the Punjab government’s anti-teachers policy had forced them to take to streets for their ‘just’ demands.
They said the government should fulfil its constitutional responsibility to impart quality education to children instead of handing over the public schools to the PEF and NGOs.
PTU Secretary General Rana Liaquat told Dawn that the group of teachers should wait till the implementation of the agreement between the Punjab government and the union.
“This protest is a futile exercise as the government has already pledged to fulfil our demands,” he said.
Last month, Punjab Education Minister Rana Mashhood held talks with PTU President Syed Sajjad Akbar Kazmi and Rana Liaquat and accepted their ‘genuine’ demands. The government had agreed not to hand over public schools having 20 or more students enrollment to the PEF and NGOs. Schoolteachers’ upgradation was also promised besides promotion of PSTs, ESTs and SSTs into grade 14, 16 and 17, respectively.
In the first phase, the school education department last month handed over 1,000 primary schools to different NGOs that will run them in collaboration with PEF.
Rana Liaquat, however, said the government had agreed to hand over only 250 government schools to PEF. Earlier, he said the government wanted to hand over 2,000 schools to the PEF.
Published by Daily Dawn on June 5, 2016