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Bad day for Sindh teachers

Bad day if you're a teacher
Karachi, May 28: The city's main thoroughfare was blocked and hundreds of vehicles stranded on Thursday, as law enforcement agencies used water cannons and teargas on protesting teachers trying to reach the Governor's House to register their complaints.

As per details, hundreds of teachers including women, under the banner of Sindh Professors and Lecturers Association (SPLA), staged a demonstration in front of the Karachi Press Club (KPC).

During the protest, SPLA members started to march towards the Governor's House to record a memorandum, however, when the protesters reached Fawara Chowk, law enforcers used water cannons to stop them. On being refused to go to the Governor's House, the teachers began to agitate at the place, causing a massive traffic jam on Abdullah Haroon Road, Fawara Chowk, Zainab Market and Saddar.

During the agitation, the infuriated teachers pelted stones on police and passing vehicles and staged a sit-in at Fawara Chowk. At least five police officers and dozens of teachers sustained injuries and were shifted to hospitals for treatment.

Meanwhile, police also detained 50 teachers including Abdul Rauf Bhutto, Liaquat Gadhar, Usman Gadhar and Muhammad Usman Halipota, and took them to Artillery Maidan police station.

Following the incident, Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Member of Provincial Assembly (MPA) Rafiq Engineer rushed to the spot and tried to solve the issue but the leaders of SPLA refused to listen to the leader.

Later, the arrested teachers were released on the orders of the Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad.

Earlier, the SPLA leaders told journalists in KPC that teachers took out the rally against the delay in approval of their allowances and other benefits by Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah and Education Minister Mazharul Haq.

They said the president had ordered the CM to approve the teachers' demands and sign the summary in this regard, however, the chief minister delayed the signing of the summary and thus the teachers wanted to go to the Governor's House to register their message.

In the Sindh Assembly session, Haq had said the teachers' association had sabotaged education in the province and called them 'enemies of Sindh'.

They said the minister ought to work for the development of faculties and solution of their problems instead of giving such harsh statements against them.

They pointed out that teachers were not enemies of education but imparting knowledge.

It is pertinent to mention here that the SPLA has already expressed concern over the deterioration of education at college level in the province.

SPLA leaders were of the view that college teachers were considered a major hurdle in the privatisation of colleges hence they were being deprived of their basic service rights, including health insurance, job confirmation, housing, children quota, timing adjustments and increase in salaries. Daily times

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What do the teachers want?
Karachi: Teachers' groups from Sindh are demanding incentives which have already implemented in other party of the country; it had unanimously been decided to allow timescales for teachers, Primary Teachers' Association (PTA) President Muhammad Rafiq Jarwar said.

Moreover, a decision regarding the payment issue was taken at a recent high-level meeting, and it was decided that payment will be proposed from April 7, 2010, and arrears of timescale with effect from 2007 will be considered for payment when the financial position of the province improves. Teaching allowances were to be implemented immediately, and the decision was submitted for approval with the authorities concerned.

"There has however, been silence ever since, and government officials are not saying a single word in this regard," Jarwar said. The news

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Teachers' protest
Karachi: Aprotest drive by government school teachers in Sindh has left educational activities in a number of the province's districts paralysed for the past several days. The teachers are demanding benefits and allowances granted to educators in the other three provinces which, they say, the Sindh government is not willing to extend to them. Teachers say a summary prepared by a government committee for the grant of benefits has been rejected by the chief minister. The government says the summary is under consideration.

Protests have been staged in various towns and cities across the province, including at the Bhutto mausoleum in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh. However, matters took a nasty turn when the protesting teachers clashed with police in Karachi on Thursday. The police resorted to tear-gas shelling and a baton charge to keep the teachers away from Governor's House, where they wanted to deliver a memorandum to the governor. On Wednesday, the provincial education minister had criticised the teachers' associations, for their protest drive, in the Sindh Assembly, saying they had "destroyed education". He claimed that half the teachers do not show up to take classes, adding that the devolution of the education department to the city and district governments was responsible for the sorry state of education in the province.

In this tug-of-war between the government and teachers, the children of Sindh are suffering the most. Teachers' representatives have said the protests will continue till the summer vacations and may carry on after the holidays. This is a grim prospect. Educators have every right to peacefully protest and pursue their demands, but this should not be at the cost of children's education.

A compromise between both sides must be reached. Both the teachers and the government equally share the responsibility of improving the quality of education in Sindh. On the teachers' part, securing benefits without improving their performance and standards is a questionable goal. On the government's end, putting the blame for the rot in the education system on past governments will not solve the issue. Concrete measures need to be taken by all stakeholders to improve the falling standards of education in Sindh's public schools. Dawn

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Governor orders release of arrested teachers
Karachi: Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan issued directives to immediately release all teachers who were detained during police action on their protest near the Governor's House. He also directed the relevant officials to probe into the matter. Regarding the presentation of a memorandum to the Sindh governor by the teachers association, a Governor's House spokesman said the governor had not stopped anyone from submitting their memorandums. In this regard, he said the administration and police has always cooperated with the people.

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Teachers' summary not rejected: CM spokesman
Karachi: The chief minister has not rejected any summary regarding schoolteachers' issues including teaching allowances and timescale, Sindh chief minister spokesman Waqar Mehdi clarified on Thursday. He said the summary had been sent to the Provincial Finance Secretary and Provincial Education Secretary for estimating expenses and other details, and in light of the recommendations, the chief minister could approve it. The spokesman said the government was aware of the teachers' problems and wanted to resolve their genuine issues, whereas teachers should avoid taking steps aimed at harming the education system. ppi

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'Over 100,000 tobacco-related deaths in Pakistan every year'
Karachi: Tobacco-related diseases kill 100,000 in Pakistan every year - more than suicide bombing, road traffic accidents, honour killings and drug abuse combined, said Prof Javaid Khan, Chairman NATC and Head of Pulmonary Diseases at Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH).

Khan was speaking at a seminar on Thursday, which was organised in connection with World No Tobacco Day by the National Alliance for Tobacco Control (NATC).

The professor, while strongly criticising the government for its failure to take effective measures towards tobacco control, warned of massive health care costs of treating diseases caused by tobacco.

He regretted the government's failure in its obligation as signatory to the UN Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to implement forceful anti tobacco measures. These include a total ban on tobacco advertising and promotion, smoking ban at all public places and increased taxation on tobacco products nationally.

This year's WHO theme, 'Gender and tobacco with an emphasis on marketing to women' highlights the fact that women are a major target for the tobacco industry, which needs to recruit new users to replace the nearly half of current users who will die prematurely from tobacco-related diseases. In fact, women who smoke are two to six times as likely to suffer heart attack as non-smoking women, but they also run a higher relative risk than men of developing cardiovascular disease.

Specifically addressing students from various medical colleges at the event, Prof Khan underlined the role model status of doctors smoking by health professionals negates the anti-smoking message. Almost 30 per cent of Pakistan's male medical students smoke compared to less than 5 per cent in the US, Canada and Australia.

All medical college curriculums must include tobacco control and smoking cessation. Alarming trends in Pakistani youth are reflected in a recent survey: 24% of male and 16% of female college students of Karachi are regular smokers; shisha smoking rate of Karachi youth is an astounding 48%.

"Pakistanis burn away over Rs 60 crore daily on cigarettes alone and an equal amount on smokeless tobacco - Naswar, Gutka and Mainpuri, and the like: yet smoking is advertised as a pleasurable and 'cool' activity on shop-fronts and in youth magazines; TV drama serials also indirectly promote tobacco products," said Dr Khan.

Prof Khan called for a comprehensive ban on all forms of tobacco advertising as well as on the industry's sponsorship of sports and entertainment events. He also said that the government needs to set up smoking cessation clinics at all major national hospitals, where health professionals would mentor smokers on how to kick this destructive habit.

Second-hand smoke contains thousands of toxic chemicals including 250 well-known cancer-causing agents. Recent research reveals that nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke increase their heart attack and lung cancer risk by 30 per cent. An NATC survey in major cities shows that only a handful of hotels and restaurants are implementing the government's total ban on smoking announced in May 2009. Global fast food chains who operate smoke-free premises worldwide flout the ban at their Pakistan franchises.

Regulations call for a fine of Rs 1,000 to 100,000 on restaurants violating the indoors smoking ban but unsurprisingly no such fines appear to have been levied so far. Smokers, while having the right to smoke do not have the right to destroy others' health. Dr Khan asked the provincial health departments and city governments to ensure that the smoking ban at hotels and restaurants in the province is enforced with full force.

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Urdu-language research journal launched
Karachi: The Department of Mass Communication, University of Karachi (KU), has launched a research journal in Urdu named "Muhaqqiq" that will be published twice a year.

Professor and former chairperson of the department Dr Tahir Masood, the patron and chief editor of the journal said that the publication has been launched to fulfill the need of a "standard research journal" in mass communication. "It is a fact that there is a dearth of research in Urdu, especially related to mass communication. Researchers, both in India and Pakistan have rarely thought of writing and publishing their research work in Urdu that cover social sciences. We have tried to be the first drop of rain. Let us see if it becomes a heavy rain", he said.

The journal consists of research papers by senior professors including Dr Shamsuddin, Dr Nisar Ahmed Zuberi, Dr Mahmood Ghaznavi, Dr Tauseef Ahmed Khan and students of the department. The news

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10 students arrested in protest for 'power'
Khairpur: Police baton charged hosteller students of Shah Abdul Latif University and arrested 10 of them on Thursday while they were protesting against lack of basic facilities at the university hostels.

A number of students came out of the hostels late Wednesday evening and held a demonstration on the National Highway, suspending vehicular traffic for quite some time.

A police party, led by SP investigation Ghulam Akbar Waggan, reached there and held talks with the students who told him that semester examinations were in progress but they were unable to properly prepare for the examinations due to frequent suspension of electric supply in the scorching summer.

They said that the hostels lacked facilities like generators, an alternate source of power supply during loadshedding, water coolers and internet.

Later, SP claimed that the students had called off their protest after he held talks with the university administration and informed it about the demands of students.

However on Thursday morning, the students, resorted to protest again and, raising slogans against the university administration, held a demonstration on the highway for about four hours.

Police reached there, resorted to tear gas shelling and baton charge to disperse the protesters and arrested 10 of them.

SALU spokesman Saheb Khan said that the demands of students, except generators, had been accepted. He said that the university had five hostels and it was not possible for the administration to provide generators to all the hostels.

He denied that water coolers were not available at the hostels.

He said that talks were to be held with students on Thursday but the students boycotted the negotiations.

SPO City Umer Salamat said that some students had been taken into custody for blocking the highway, and added that those found innocent would be released.

Meanwhile, Shah Abdul Latif University Teachers' Association has condemned the police for using tear gas and batons against the students and manhandling them.

A press release said that the police action had blemished the sanctity of the university. Dawn

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