LAHORE: Progressive Youth Alliance Lahore (PYA) on Saturday staged a rally under the banner of “Day of Action” to demand free education, employment for all, end to sexual harassment, poverty, privatisation, and provision of facilities for online education.

The protesters had walked from Ichhra to the Lahore Press Club as a part of its nationwide agitation for acceptance of their demands. They also expressed solidarity with 4,500 workers of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) recently fired from their jobs.

The students from different educational institutions including Punjab University, National University of Modern Languages (NUML), Government College University Lahore (GCU), University of Education, the University of Lahore participated in the rally. The workers from PSM, Pakistan Railways, Wapda, Grand Health Alliance, teachers, paramedics and other departments also showed up to express solidarity with students.

The students had carried out rallies in 32 other cities including Karachi, Islamabad, Multan, Hyderabad, Hunza-Gilgit, Peshawar, Mirpur, Nawabshah, Larkana, Noshehro, Mitthi, Dadu, DG Khan, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Quetta, Zhob, DG Khan and Bahawalpur.

One of the protesters, Babar Ali, said the educational institutes were nothing more than a means of extracting money from students.

He said the Covid-19 had exposed the role of the universities as no facilities were being provided for online classes but the institutes kept on collecting fees from them.

Another student, Rai Asad, said education had become so expensive that the poor could not get admission. He said the graduates did not have jobs, demanding unemployment allowance.

Another student, Mishal Wayen, criticised the role of harassment committees in educational institutions and said the committees were constituted without student representatives.

She said the students should be given representation in committees against harassment, fee hike and other matters about education.

The protesters also demanded immediate release of Amar Fayyaz, an activist of PYA from Jamshoro (Sindh), who went missing on Nov 8.

Published in Dawn, December 20th, 2020

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