KARACHI: “We are Sindhi Language Teachers or SLTs. Language teachers shouldn’t require National Testing Service, or NTS, certification which tests proficiency in physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, etc. Some of us are art teachers, too. Why test us for science subjects?” said Niaz Ahmed, a drawing teacher from Mohammad Ali Goth in Korangi. The teacher had his arm in a plaster and head bandaged, too. His shirt was full of blood stains as he stood at the City Court here on Friday after being arrested by police.
“For a week, these people were just fine while staging a peaceful sit-in at Clifton. God knows what got into them that they suddenly turned violent and raced towards Bilawal House, then we also had to stop them,” said one of the police officers who rounded up the protesters before escorting them to the City Court.
“Yes, we thought Senior Minister for Education Nisar Khuhro was come to meet us and resolve our issues on Thursday. But we were shocked to hear him tell us that we have to take the NTS test in order to be considered eligible now. That’s when we thought of heading towards the Bilawal House to plead our case there,” said the injured teacher, among the over 50 arrested.
“The police was brutal with us then. There were also women teachers with us, who also got beaten up by them,” he added.
“We know why minister Khuhro is doing this. Since we are Sindhi language teachers, most of us may fail the test. Then he will appoint his own favourites in our place,” said another teacher, Sanaullah Sial from Bin Qasim Town.
“We haven’t been paid salaries for two years now. Have a heart!” Sial added. “This is was our 62nd dharna during this time. Government officials keep visiting us and give us hope but after Minister Khuhro’s speech we have lost all hope. What do we do now?” he said.
“Look, it’s not like we entered through the back door. We came through the proper channel. When we were doing election duty last year and even before that when we were carrying out voter list verifications, our own names for doing all that work had been approved by the education department itself proving that we were proper government teachers,” said Ali Gauhar from Baldia Town.
“I have done BEd and MEd so I can also sit for the NTS test but first Minister Khuhro should explain why are only the teachers from Karachi being subjected to this. Why are all the teachers in Sindh also included in this decision?”
Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2014