Teaching a lesson to teachers

Teaching a lesson?
Karachi, May 29: In Karachi, the police have once again held true to their tradition of meting out the most brutal force to peaceful demonstrators. Teachers who were marching towards the Governor's House to present the governor with a memorandum for teacher-friendly policies, and for the implementation of pay raises already enforced in other parts of the country, were met with teargas and water cannons. Arrests were made and some of the teachers (including women) who represent professional associations from across Sindh were manhandled and subjected to abusive language. Our country's police have often used similar force against peaceful protesters who have included journalists, lawyers and other citizens demonstrating for their rights. In no way did these protesters represent a threat to order. It sometimes appears that, frustrated by their inability to tackle terrorism or combat crime, the police turn their wrath on unarmed people who are unable to defend themselves.

While the arrested teachers have been released, this is not enough. The Sindh government needs to investigate the matter and initiate action against police officers who ordered the use of brute force. The right of people to assemble and peacefully draw attention to their grievances is one of the most fundamental ones. It must be protected. A government failing to do so has no right to call itself democratic. The issues highlighted by the teachers who have announced a black day and hunger strike must be addressed. Teachers form a vital part of the education system. We cannot hope to improve it unless their lives are improved. At present, particularly in the government sector, the salaries they draw are abysmal, their working conditions are tough and, as a consequence, their motivation is low. More incentives and encouragement are needed. Their standing as professionals, their respect and dignity must be recognised. What we also need is more training for the police. Everywhere in the world one of their tasks is to regulate peaceful rallies that take place everywhere. Our police must be sensitised about the need to avoid turning their batons on citizens or treating those who march peacefully in the same manner as a frenzied mob. This is crucial to their relations with citizens and the building of trust that is indeed essential to tackling crime in major cities. Scenes of the kind witnessed in Karachi, as teachers fell to the ground or scrambled for cover, are one reason why this cooperation has not evolved and why there is so much hatred for a police force whose main objective should be to protect people from harm. The news

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Teachers continue hunger strike
Karachi: The hunger strike by primary schoolteachers of Sindh to demand timescale and teaching allowance continued at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) Friday.

The All Sindh Primary Teachers Association (ASPTA) has 23 different districts and one member from each district has decided to take part in the hunger strike.

Whereas, members of Sindh Professors and Lecturers Association, Mehran Teachers Association and Government Secondary Teachers Association were also seen at the KPC for some part of the day.

One day after primary, secondary and college teachers were thrashed by police near the Governor's House, Sindh Assembly Opposition Leader Jam Madad Ali Khan along with four MPAs met the the protesting teachers at the KPC and reassured them that their demands would be put forward to Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah again.

Adviser to Sindh Chief Minister Sharmila Farooqui also visited the teachers and assured them that the issue would soon be resolved.

Primary Teachers Association (PTA) Deputy Secretary District Karachi Amin Khorejo said, "If our demands are not met, we shall continue our hunger strike until we die. We plan to stage a sit-in at the President's House on June 3, and at the Sindh Assembly on June 8, when the annual budget for Sindh would be announced."

Commenting on the Senior Education and Literacy Minister Pir Mazharul Haq's statement on how such protests by teachers could affect the studies of 400,000 children of Sindh, ASPTA Jacobabad wing member Nisar Ahmed Odho said, "It is our own children who study at government schools in rural areas of Sindh and not the minister's. We care about our students more than anybody else. Maybe somebody should check the corrupt behaviour of the executive district officers in rural areas who transfer teachers and appoint headmasters when they are offered bribes or when they receive phone calls form higher-ups." Daily times

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Sindh edu minister lashes out at teachers' bodies
Karachi: Sindh Education Minister Pir Mazharul Haq has lashed out at the teachers' associations who are exploiting the teachers to remain away from the educational institutions in the province.

The majority of teachers are ghost in Sindh who do not go to teach children, however the Education Department has directed the DCOs/District Administrators to submit a list of the ghost teachers in their districts concerned so that action could be initiated against them.

Replying to a point of order raised by Opposition leader and PML-F Parliamentary leader Jam Madad Ali Khan in Sindh Assembly on Wednesday, the Education Minister said that the teachers' associations misguiding the teachers in Sindh. Opposition leader said it had been reported that the government was planning cancellation of the contracts of lower grades employees, who joined the education department in 2007. He also urged the government to not cancel their contract as it was not the policy of the PPP government to snatch employment from the people.

Raising another issue, jam Madad Ali said that teachers in Sindh were protesting to get resolve their problems, adding that the teachers of Sindh were not receiving teaching allowance, while same facility was being given to their colleagues in other three provinces. He also sought that the government should resolve the problems of teachers on priority basis.

Education Minster Pir Mazharul Haq said that the previous government while ignoring the relevant rules had made contractual appointments in the education department on political basis. But the present government would consider not to terminate the services of lower grades employees on humanitarian grounds, adding that however the Sindh Chief Minster will take a final decision in this regard.

Referring to the demand regarding teaching allowance for teachers, the minster said that the chief minister had formed a committee led by him with a task to formulate a formula for teaching allowance. The committee which comprising Provincial Secretaries of the Finance and the Education departments and representatives of the teachers' associations, had unanimously agreed to adopt 'teaching allowance' being given to the teachers in Balochistan.

However, a summary carrying recommendations has been submitted to the Sindh CM which was still under consideration as huge financial implication on Sindh exchequer is the reason of a delay in approval of summary, he added.

He criticized the role of the teachers' associations, saying that they were provoking the teachers against government. Despite the fact that a summary, in this regard is still under consideration, some leaders of the teachers' body are misguiding the teaching community that their proposal has been rejected.

On contrary to the previous regime which banned the teachers' unions in Sindh and sent the teachers on forced leave, the present government was striving to provide all facilities to teachers, besides lifting a ban from forced leave. But teachers doing enmity with the education of Sindh, he claimed.

He said that after devolution plan, the schools were under the administrative control of local governments/districts, where 50 percent were already ghost teachers and did not go teach children, while remaining on strike.

He informed the house that the education department had asked the DCOs, who were also district administrators to send a list of the ghost teachers. The Provincial Department will write to the Chief Secretary and district governments as presently education department has no powers to take action against them.

He said that district governments were authorized to recruit and terminate the services of the school teachers from grade 1-15.

Meanwhile, Opposition leader Jam Madad pointed out that lots of junior officers were working on senior posts in education department creating sense of deprivation among the senior teachers.

However, the senior minister agreed with the point raised by the Opposition leader and said that the Education Department had formulated a policy, under which posting of junior officers on senior posts and on OPS had been banned. But, he said, that implementation was the duty of the district governments, if they did not follow the policy, the provincial education department will approach the Chief Minister and Chief Secretary to implement the policy. The nation

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Sindh Assembly session: Opp stages walkout over teachers' issue
Karachi: The opposition members in the Sindh Assembly staged a walkout from the House on Friday to protest against the police action on teachers on Thursday outside the Governor's House and the delay in acceptance of their demands by the provincial government.

Senior Education Minister Pir Mazharul Haq, however, claimed the police was compelled to take action against teachers after they tried to enter the Governor's House. He also accused the opposition parties for inciting the teachers to protest after misguiding them that the government had rejected their demands.

The teachers across the province, especially of government schools have been agitating for the past few days to pressurise the government for providing them teaching allowance and timescale.

Opposition members again walked out from the House after Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza, presiding over the proceedings in absence of the Speaker, refused to allow Opposition member Shaheryar Maher for presenting an adjournment motion to discuss the teachers' issue. They however returned to the house after provincial ministers belonging to the Pakistan People's Party and Muttahida Qaumi Movement convinced them to end their protest.

The deputy speaker informed Maher that the senior minister had already given his statement on the issue.

National People's Party Arif Mustafa Jatoi, however, did not participate in the second walkout.

Sindh Assembly Opposition leader Jam Madad Ali said his members were following the reconciliation policy of President Asif Ali Zardari and rejected the senior minister's allegation that opposition parties had provoked the teachers. He added the summary the minister was referring to, was sent to the Chief Minister's House on June 16, 2009 and had been pending since then.

Haq said the Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah had sent the summary to the finance and education departments on May 11 for seeking details about the expenses for awarding teaching allowance and timescale facilities to the teachers, adding that around Rs 1 billion were required in this regard.

He said the government had restrained the Karachi police from taking any action against the protesting teachers but the CCPO, Karachi later informed the action was taken after teachers tried to enter the Governor's House.

He also said that an inquiry should be conducted to ascertain who had incited the teachers and lashed out at the opposition, adding they had brutally tortured teachers and banned their associations during their government but were now supporting the teachers for political gains.

The minister said the present government after coming in power had lifted the ban on teachers associations and was trying to resolve their problems.

He said the government only expected the teachers to join their duties and provide education to the poor children of the province honestly.

Sindh Law Minister Ayaz Soomro said the government has no objection over the Opposition's adjournment motion and only wanted to discuss it after completing the agenda of the day. Pointing at the opposition members that some elements were trying to score political points through media, the minister added that politicising the issues would not serve the people. Daily times

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