HYDERABAD/SUKKUR: Several of around 350 teachers and other staffers of the Public School Hyderabad took to the streets against non-payment of their allowances along with salaries and denial of legitimate annual increments while the president of the Sindh Primary Teachers Association (SPTA) told a press conference in Ghotki that around 22,000 teachers had been waiting for the regularisation of their jobs for 11 years.
Ashok Kumar and Mohammad Saeed, along with several teachers and other employees of the Public School Hyderabad, held a demonstration outside the local press club on Saturday and raised slogans for payment of their full salaries and outstanding dues.
Women employees, literally crying, among them told reporters that around 350 employees, including 140 teachers, had not been receiving any allowance — medical, conveyance, house rent etc — since 2010. They said there were around 1,800 students studying at the schools offering nursery to intermediate classes.
Explaining the reason for not being paid their allowances, they said that the monthly salary bill stood at around Rs10 million while the management was receiving only 50 per cent or so under the head.
They said the salaries were also disbursed very late every month which caused uncertainty and many other problems to their families.
They held the school principal responsible for the mess and demanded his removal. They also called for a fair audit of the school’s financial matters.
In Ghotki, Sindh PTA president Haji Shafi Mohammed Sathio told local reporters that regularisation of more than 22,000 junior school teachers (JSTs) and primary school teachers (PSTs) had become due 11 years ago but they were not being obliged by the education department although jobs of such employees in the Karachi region had been regularised.
Speaking at a press conference in Khangarh town of Ghotki district on Saturday, he said that the affected teachers had been struggling for their rights for more than a decade but the education department was not taking a decision on their charter of demands. He said that the association would discuss the situation at a meeting scheduled for Oct 20.
He said the meeting would also decide a course of action, including launching of a movement to get the demands met.
Mr Sathio said that billions of rupees had been released over the last decade for the repair, renovation and improvement of schools in Sindh but nothing was spent for the purposes.
He said that the provincial education minister kept claiming that over 3,500 schools in Sindh were lying closed but as a matter of fact the number was far fewer than the given figure.
The SPTA chief also highlighted the extent of corruption in the department and gave an example: “After a long struggle, teachers got their demand of [being] upgraded to grade-16. Some unscrupulous elements, including teachers and officials, collected Rs8,000 per head from the beneficiaries of their respective regions.” He said these elements made the beneficiaries believe that the amount thus collected would go to the secretary, director and district officer of the education department. “We will not let such practices take root in the department,” he said, and vowed to expose such elements.
Mr Sathio also referred to the so-called ‘education committees’ formed in the past to recommend ways to resolve the issues relating to schools and education. He said the committee members held meetings in a five-star hotel in Karachi but appeared absolutely unaware of the issues and incompetent in making recommendations.
The SPTA president said that a crisis was brewing as more than 20,000 teachers were reaching the age of superannuation and no process of recruitment to fill the gap was started as yet.
In reply to a question, he said the World Bank had also provided billions of rupees for education in rural Sindh over the past five years but nobody knew where this huge amount went.
Published in Dawn, October 14th, 2018