PESHAWAR: More than 200 ad hoc male and female lecturers working in harsh circumstances in the tribal areas for the last five years are oscillating between hope and despair as they were neither regularised nor paid salary for the last eight months.

“We have been working without pay for the last eight months since our contracts were not renewed. We are also not getting regularised despite our demands,” complained Riffat Naz, who has been working as Physics lecturer in Kurram Agency for the last five years on ad hoc basis.

While sitting at a protest camp set up eight days ago in front of the Peshawar Press Club on Wednesday, the hottest day of the month so far, the young teacher looked tense to see no one from the higher education department either visit the camp or take notice of the protesters’ misery.

Some women, who had infants with them, went to a nearby restaurant to use their washroom. Others looked tired and thirsty.

All the male and female lecturers at the protest camp had despair written on their face but still they looked determined to use peaceful protest camp as the only option to convey their problems to the government.

Their protest in Peshawar for salary, permanent job enters eighth day

These ad hoc lecturers were accepted as employees of the higher education department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who were on deputation in tribal areas yet despite a meeting held to look into their regularisation in Feb 16, 2016, nothing has been done in the case so far.

Samina, who works in FR DI Khan but hails from Bajaur Agency, said it was so cruel that women worked in harsh environment in Fata but no one cared about the well being of the lecturers.

“We faced all kinds of threats in tribal areas but we are the ones, who are educating and giving opportunity to Fata girls to get education, yet we are the ones who are ignored,” she said.

Nasir Ali, who hails from Kurram Agency but teaches in a Bajaur Agency college, said there were so many threats for teachers in the region, especially from the elements opposed to education, but still they took the risk and taught children there.

He said the government had not appreciated it ever and even denied them salary for last eight months.

“We have been forced into living on loans as there are many lecturers, who have to support their families,” he said while talking about social and financial problems of the lecturers awaiting regularisation of their services and payment of salary.

All the lecturers sitting at the camp said their services should be regularised as they had been working on the post of ad hoc lecturers for the last five years.

They said they were the ones, who ensured the access of higher education to the people in tribal areas but still they were the ones, who were ignored by the government.

The teachers said they had contacted officials of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa higher education department, which took a decision in their favour, but they faced despair and uncertainty as they were still not regularised.

They said they would continue the strike until their demands were met.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2016