MUZAFFARGARH: A large number of employees of the Literacy department from across the province have threatened to protest outside the Punjab Assembly in Lahore on Sept 7 on the International Literacy Day if their job contracts are terminated prematurely.

Employees said they feared removal from their jobs after the Punjab literacy secretary had merged all literacy related projects into the non-formal education project while the Planning and Development Department had also approved it.

A literacy coordinator in Muzaffargarh, seeking anonymity, said their two-year contract would end in 2016, but the new development threatened the termination of their jobs.

Another official said the Punjab government had started the education project for adult with the title “Parah Likha Punjab” in 2005 under the Literacy department in 31 districts of Punjab for which around 200 schools for adults and as many non-formal schools were opened in each district.

Overall, 245,000 students from five to 15 years of age were admitted to these schools. According to the admission criteria, a boy/girl who left the school or never went to any school was to be enrolled in these schools.

Later, the Parah Likha Punjab project was named as the Literacy Programme in 2008. In the four-year Literacy Programme, the teachers were offered a salary of Rs3,000 per month.

Under the programme, at least 6,400 teachers and 19,200 adult literacy teachers were hired while two million people, including adult women and men, got basic education.

In 2012, the government started the PAFLP project in Punjab which was to end in 2016. For this purpose, 2,880 community learning centres and others schools were opened at brick-kiln sites while Rs5,000 per month was decided the pay package for teachers. At least 144,000 learners were enrolled in these schools.

Apart from this 24 vocational training centres were also started. An official said this project was also to end in 2016. He said the sitting literacy secretary threatened to issue termination letters to workers.

He said that teachers, coordinators, operators, trainee literacy mobilizers and naib qasid wanted their jobs be made permanent or else they would hold demonstration in front of the Punjab Assembly.

Zehra, a teacher of non-formal school in Gurmani area, said she got the job in the literacy department.

A master degree-holder, she said her school had 47 students, but the coordinator asked her to close down the school because of the orders from the high-ups.

Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2015

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