LANDI KOTAL: The teachers in Khyber Agency went on strike on Thursday to protest what they called the failure of Fata Secretariat to implement their upgradation plan.

The strike also affected the fresh enrolment drive in government schools in Landi Kotal and Jamrud tehsils as the teaching staff refused to facilitate new admissions.

Khyber Agency Teacher Association president Naseer Shah Afridi told Dawn that although all the schools remained open but teachers boycotted classes and refrained from accepting new admission forms.

“The entire teaching staff including both male and female remained present at their respective institutions but they asked students and their parents politely to go back to their homes as they wanted to press the government for acceptance of their just demands,” he said.

Mr Afridi said that their colleagues in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had been upgraded in 2012 under a policy announced by the then provincial government but Fata Secretariat was denying the same right to teachers in tribal areas.

Strike affects the freshly launched enrolment drive

He said that the strike was observed on the call of All Fata Teachers Association. He said that 300 schools for boys and girls in Khyber Agency were affected by their strike on Wednesday.

“In the next phase of our strike, we will shut down all educational institutions in Fata if the authorities concerned fail to pay any heed to our demands,” said Mr Afridi.

It is pertinent to mention here that the strike was observed only a day after the agency education officer announced reopening of 73 government schools in Akkakhel area of Bara. The schools had remained closed for nearly six years.

Sarwar Khan, a schoolteacher in Jamrud, told Dawn that about 16,000 teachers throughout Fata were awaiting their upgradation. If it was approved, at least 5,000 new vacancies would be created in the Fata Education Directorate, he added.

Mr Khan said that agency education officers in all the seven tribal agencies and six frontier regions had submitted the list of teachers eligible for upgradation long ago but Fata Secretariat was unnecessarily dragging its feet on the issue.

Meanwhile, free books were distributed among deserving students of the government schools in remote localities of Khyber Agency under the Accelerated Learning Programme of Unicef. Officials of education department said that evening schools were established for those students, who were unable to attend the school in the morning.

ENCROACHMENTS: The local people and businessmen in Jamrud have demanded of the political administration to remove encroachment from the main bazaar.

Talking to journalists, Malak Zar Mohammad and Malak Pervaiz Ahmad said that handcarts and kiosks, owned mostly by Afghan refugees, had occupied empty spaces in front of the new market and on roadside.

They said that pedestrians and customers faced great difficulty in free movement at the bazaar as almost all streets and front portion of the market were occupied unlawfully by the encroachers in connivance with the office-bearers of the local shopkeepers committee. Manzoor Afridi and Sher Khan, two shopkeepers, accused the watchmen of the market of allowing heavy vehicles to park inside the new market and taking illegal parking money from the drivers.

They demanded of the local administration to launch anti-encroachment drive in Jamrud Bazaar.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2015

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