KARACHI: Teachers affiliated with different groups continued their sit-in outside the Karachi Press Club for a second day on Tuesday, announcing that their protest would continue until the Sindh government resolved their problems.
The protesters consist of four major groups: National Testing Service (NTS) teachers, the Primary Teachers Association (PTA), teachers appointed in 2010 through a test at the Sindh University and the New Teachers Action Committeeâs (NTAC) teachers appointed in 2012 by former education minister Pir Mazharul Haq.
The total strength of NTS teachers is 15,000; teachers appointed in 2010 are 8,800 in number; the PTA has 40,000 members; and the NTAC has a 4,400-strong membership comprising both teaching and non-teaching staff.
However, around 2,000 teachers have gathered at the press club for the sit-in. They have two major demands: to be regularised and to be paid their salaries. But the PTA has also called for being promoted to the upper grades.
Despite the fact that the Sindh police had baton-charged these teachers on Monday when they had tried to move towards the Sindh Secretariat in the Red Zone, none of the top government officials or representatives paid the protesters a visit.
However, School Education Secretary Iqbal Hussain Durrani has scheduled a meeting on Wednesday to hear the problems of the teachers and recommend possible solutions to them. Representatives of protesting teacher groups would also attend the meeting.
NTAC Chairman Abu Bakar Abro told The News that the provincial government used its power to try to silence the teachers, but he asserted that it was not a permanent solution. âWe were legally appointed,â he clarified. Abro said that in the past five years the Sindh administration had made numerous promises of releasing teachersâ salaries but it never fulfilled it, adding that when they took to the streets, the police pushed them towards violence and then government officials made a new promise.
âI have attended a number of meetings with high-ranking officials of the Sindh government, but the provincial administration is not determined to solve our problems.â A representative of the teachers appointed in 2010 said the Sindh government had awarded regular status of jobs to other employees of the provincial departments and those employees were also appointed the same year.
Even teachers of the same lot from the Karachi region enjoy regular status, but only teachers from interior Sindh are suffering and are forced to protest for their rights, he added. Muhammad Ahmed, a representative of NTS teachers, said they were appointed through the NTS, which was one of the most credible testing services in Pakistan. But, he claimed, the provincial administration wanted to make political appointments after snatching jobs from competent NTS teachers.
The education department had earlier announced conducting an NTS test for new appointments. The protesting groups of teachers declared that they would not go back home until the officials of the education department ensured regular status of their jobs and payment of their salaries.