KARACHI: Teachers at Karachi University (KU) continued their boycott of classes and protest for the third consecutive day on Wednesday, demanding a schedule for the selection boards pending since 2019.

Teachers suspended all academic activities on the campus from 11am onwards and later gathered in front of the administration block.

Speaking during the demonstration, the protesting teachers said the selection boards were belatedly advertised in 2019 and then being delayed on for one or the other reasons due to which many teachers, who had been waiting for their promotions for a long time, had either retired or about to hit their retirement age.

They strongly criticised the university administration and secretary universities and boards, describing the delay in selection boards as an “anti-teacher policy”.

Teachers also recalled how proceedings of the selection board being organised for the environmental studies department on the Sindh High Court orders last year were declared null and void by the universities and boards secretary on grounds that the vice chancellor needed to take prior permission for the process from the government.

Speaking to Dawn, President of Karachi University Teachers’ Society Prof Solaha Rahman said the vice chancellor had expressed his helplessness in the matter since he was not authorised to start the process unless he received permission for the procedure from the government.

“In this respect, he told us that he has written letters to the secretary universities and boards, but hasn’t received his reply.”

The delay in selection boards, she said, had created a vacuum adversely affecting both teachers and students.

“Teachers’ shortage is getting serious day by day as several of our colleagues have retired after being denied the opportunity for promotion while others are still waiting for the process. The situation is frustrating.”

According to the university officials, the selection boards advertised in 2019 pertain to the entire university with 42 departments, including institutes and centres.

There are 136 vacant posts for lecturer, 45 for assistant professors, 37 for associate professors and 110 vacant posts for professors.

There are said to be 350 internal candidates while the total number of external candidates stands around 6,000.

When contacted, KU Vice Chancellor Prof Khalid Iraqi explained that the government had imposed a ban on appointments in the province in 2019 and later the vice chancellors were bound (through a notification) to take permission from the chief minister for appointments from grade one to 22.

“We have been waiting for an official permission for appointments since October last year. The secretary universities and boards hasn’t replied to our reminders sent in this respect,” he said.

Furthermore, Prof Iraqi pointed out, he couldn’t release a schedule for the selection boards (related to the posts of associate professor and professor) unless he received reports from foreign evaluators on applicants’ dossiers.

“In majority of the departments awaiting appointments, these reports are pending,” he said, rejecting allegations that the university administration was deliberately delaying the appointment process.

Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2023

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