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KARACHI: Teachers see red as govt withdraws PhD allowance

January 22, 2009

KARACHI, Jan 21: The Sindh government has stopped disbursing PhD allowances to college teachers, causing resentment among the recipients of the allowance, besides provoking the teaching community, whose leaders have described the move as “discouraging” and “against the culture of research”. Additionally, the authorities have now been directed to recover allowances that were already paid to 47 lecturers, Dawn has learnt.

Office-bearers of the Sindh Professors and Lecturers Association (SPLA) have denounced the language used for the recipients of the PhD allowance in a notification concerning withdrawal of the allowance by the officials of the provincial finance department.

Sources in the AG Sindh office told Dawn that they had received a notification (dated Oct 23, 2008) from the Sindh finance department whereby the AG office had been asked not to disburse special and technology/PhD allowance (Rs5,000 per month) to college teachers/lecturers.

Referring to the cases of those college teachers who have already been paid the PhD allowance, the finance department’s notification sent to the AG (Sindh) by a section officer on behalf of the provincial additional chief secretary (finance) inter alia states: “As regards the recovery of already paid PhD allowance Rs5,000 to the 47 college side teachers/lecturers allowed by the AG Sindh, Karachi, with the collaboration of education and literacy department, please ensure that the recovery from the defaulter is due and will be made good when desired by the competent authority.”

Terming the Sindh government’s move of withdrawing the college teachers’ PhD allowance “unjust” and “uncalled-for”, SPLA Karachi chapter’s general secretary Prof Iftikhar Azmi said that such an act on the part of provincial education and finance department officials not only amounted to discriminatory practice, but was also aimed at discouraging people from pursuing higher education.

“It was amazing to note that the PhD allowance, which was initiated during the tenure of former president Pervez Musharraf, and was a decision which was taken by the previous government to encourage research in the country, has been withdrawn by a democratic government, and that too in Sindh alone,” he remarked.

He also criticised the government for deducting a large amount under the head of income tax and curtailment of allowances from the salaries of those senior college teachers who are currently working on administrative posts.

Commenting on the government’s move to withdraw college teachers’ PhD allowances, another central leader of the SPLA, Prof Ather Mirza, said that at a time when the teaching community of the province had been facing numerous problems, the provincial government’s act of withdrawing college teachers’ PhD allowances was not only aimed at creating further resentment amongst the teaching community, but would also to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere in colleges across Sindh.

Taking strong notice of the word “defaulter” that has been used in the notification for those college teachers who have already been paid the PhD allowance, both the leaders of the SPLA said that it was ironic that the officials of the finance department have used such “indecent language” in their official notification for members of teaching community, despite knowing that teachers are always highly respected in an enlightened society.

They demanded that the government immediately withdraw the notification and ask the officials concerned to apologise to the teaching community for using such an “indecent” word for college teachers holding PhD degrees.