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Universities reopen across KP today amid staff protest

PESHAWAR: Universities across the province are formally to reopen today but academic and non-academic activities will remain suspended owing to employees’ protest and boycott as the government apparently is in no mode to take notice of the situation and ensure physical resumption of education process after a long break caused by corona pandemic.

The pandemic has already left adverse effects on the education system in the province like elsewhere in the country and the world. And the prolonged protest by the teaching and non-teaching staff would lead to further issues.

The universities’ employees have been on protest for the past 10 days to get their problems resolved but to no avail. The professors and other employees suffered violence at the hands of police last Monday when they organised a 10-kilometre-long march till Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly amid the scorching heat.

The employees later announced a complete boycott of academic and managerial activities in universities and even online examinations were suspended.

This was for the first time in the history of the province that force has been used mercilessly against the university professors. The police action brought intensity in the protest campaign of the university employees and they announced complete boycott of all kinds of academic and managerial activities in universities and even online examinations were suspended.

Also, they announced holding a protest sit-in at the University of Peshawar, which not only drew huge participation of the university employees but leaders of various political parties and other organisations also kept visiting the sit-in camp to express solidarity with them.

The government, on the other hand, has been unable to take concrete steps to clear the mess.

All that the government has done so far is a tweet by the Special Assistant to the Chief Minister on Higher Education, Kamran Khan Bangash, on behalf of Chief Minister Mahmood Khan in which the latter had expressed concern over the police action.

Another decision taken by the government so far was to constitute a committee at Higher Education Department level to listen to the protesting employees, which was flatly rejected by the protesters.

Now that the universities would reopen physically for academic activities, the teaching and non-teaching staff have renewed its commitment to keep all kinds of activities on campuses suspended, except watering plants, etc.

Federation of All Pakistan Academic Staff Association provincial president and head of the Joint Action Committee, Dr Shah Alam Khan, in a video message declared that a complete strike would be observed in the universities.

Also, a big gathering would be arranged at the venue for protest sit-in in the University of Peshawar today (Monday).

Teachers and other employees from all the universities from across the province have reached the provincial metropolis to participate in the sit-in and welcome their central leadership and FAPUASA office-bearers from provinces of the country.

The central leadership of the teaching fraternity would also hold a press conference wherein they would announce the next line of action. It is expected that the protest drive may be expanded to the rest of the country.

The prime demands of the protesting employees include withdrawal of hike in students’ fee, increase in budget for public sector universities, formation of Higher Education Commission at KP level on Punjab and Sindh Pattern.

They also want withdrawal of the Higher Education Department’s letter in which a cut in the salaries and other allowances of the university employees has been proposed.

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