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Over 30 protesting teachers served notices

LAHORE: The Punjab government allegedly instead of resolving issue of the protesting schoolteachers has started taking disciplinary action against them as district education authorities concerned have issued suspension and explanation notices to more than 30 teachers in different parts of the province.

For over a week schoolteachers have been observing a protest sit-in near Chief Minister House, Club Chowk, on Davis Road demanding unconditional regularisation of around 11,000 Secondary School Educators (SSEs) and Assistant Education Officers (AEOs) across the province.

As per some notices available with The News, most of these suspension notices have been issued by District Education Authority (DEA), Vehari and Mandi Bahauddin districts and have been issued after the teachers started their protest in the provincial metropolis.

A March 26 suspension notice issued by CEO DEA Vehari reads: “Haider Ali, Assistant Education Officer Markaz Luddan Tehsil Vehari, is hereby suspended due to charges of misconduct, inefficiency and absent from duty with immediate effect.”

SSEs/AEOs Regularization Movement Punjab, which has been holding the protest sit-in outside the CM House, has alleged that this and many other notices have been issued to pressurise the teachers to end their ongoing protest.

Syed Qasim Bukhari, Member Core Committee of the SSEs/AEOs Regularization Movement Punjab, talking to The News alleged that the district education authorities in several parts of the province had taken action against the teachers to create a sense of fear among the teachers. He said a delegation of teachers had met Punjab Schools Minister Dr Murad Raas who had assured to find a practical solution to the problem after which as a goodwill gesture the teachers had also announced ending their protest. But within half an hour of the meeting, reports started emerging about disciplinary action against the teachers following which it was decided to continue the protest, he added.

It is pertinent to mention here that following the teachers started protesting again, Dr Murad Raas in a tweet on March 22 announced that he would not move forward with his commitment vis-à-vis resolving issue related to the teachers’ regularisation. The issue of the regularisation of almost 11,000 AEOs and SSEs in Punjab has been pending for long particular since June 2020 when the minister announced that a summary had been moved to the provincial cabinet for regularisation of teachers. He had endorsed teachers’ point of view i.e., saying his recommendation was for regularisation without PPSC.

According the Punjab Regularization of Service Act 2018, the posts of SSEs and AEOs (BS-16) fall within the purview of the Punjab Public Service Commission and “the contract employee appointed otherwise than on the recommendations of the Commission, the case shall be referred to the Commission for recommendations.”

Sources in the School Education Department (SED) Punjab said that in its summary the department had proposed the Provincial Cabinet to amend the Act to provide relief to the teachers but the same was pending for almost a year now.

On the other hand, the protesting teachers argue that the recruitment policy of 2016-17 and 2018 had a mechanism which empowered “District Recruitment Committees” headed by district government’s administrative heads to recruit them at district level. They further say that the policy directed the Recruitment Committees to conduct interviews of successful candidates in written exam conducted by NTS for recruitment. They further argue that as they had been recruited through proper channel and had fulfilled their service for regularisation, the government now wants to repeat the whole exercise through PPSC which was unacceptable to the teachers.

When contacted, Secretary Schools Ghulam Farid said that he was unaware of action being taken against the teachers and said he would definitely look into this on Monday (today).

He said the department would do the best what it could for the teachers as they were part of the team. He said many things were under discussion and hopefully whatever relief could be provided while remaining within the law would be provided to the teachers.

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