- Sit-in shelved following a meeting between Punjab School Education Department officials and protesting teachers
The teachers protesting against proposed privatisation of government schools across Punjab on Monday put off their agitation movement temporarily in honour of the holy month of Ramzan.
The protest was shelved Monday evening following a meeting held under the chair of Additional Secretary (Schools) Muhammad Akhtar in which detailed deliberations were held with different bodies of teachers.
Teachers from across the province gathered last week at Chairing Cross and staged a sit-in for four days to press for their demands. The main demand of the teachers is the government reconsiders its policy of privatisation of government schools to save the future of thousands of students and teachers in the province.
During the meeting, officials of the Punjab School Education Department succeeded in convincing the protesting teachers to put off their sit in.
“Teachers have not budged from their demands as they are only putting their demonstration on hold because of Ramzan. We’ll be on roads again if our demands are not met after Eidul Fitr,” Punjab Teachers’ Union (PTU) Chairman Rai Ghulam Mustafa Riaz told Pakistan Today.
According to Riaz, the government has privatised at least 10,000 schools in the first stage and has been planning to hand over as many as 53,000 schools to the private sector in the second phase.
“The government has put on hold the privatisation drive temporarily due to Ramzan. It will form a committee after Eidul Fitr to address our grievances,” he added.
However, Mian Shehzad, a science teacher from Kasur district did not seem happy with the decision of his leadership. “The agreement between our leadership and the SED is just eyewash. Nothing will change even after the Eid,” he opined. He added that most of the members of the teachers’ unions could not read English and that was the reason the officials from the SED made fool of them every time by holding out assurances in writing.
Malik Riaz Hussain, Director Public Instruction (Elementary Education), while talking to media personnel at Charing Cross, said that the main concern of teachers was the handing over of public sector schools to individuals through the Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) and Danish Authority. “We have assured the teachers that the process has been put on hold temporarily,” he added.
Earlier in the day, a massive traffic gridlock was witnessed on The Mall and adjoining arteries, as the Sikh community also held a demonstration at Chairing Cross in the memory of the mass murder of Sikh community in Operation Blue Star in 1984 by the Indian government.
Ambulances were seen stuck in traffic, while every second motorist was seen quarrelling in the scorching heat.
Moreover, two motorbikes caught fire after a collision at Chairing Cross which created more panic among motorists and commuters.
Sohail Ahmad, a resident of Baghbanpura told this scribe that his bike collided with another bike that was coming from the wrong direction and both the bikes caught fire instantly. “All this happened just because of the traffic mess,” he added.