LAHORE: Teachers’ representatives from across the province attended a ceremony at the Lahore Press Club on Monday to mark the World Teachers’ Day.
The event, titled Salam Teacher Day, was arranged to acknowledge the services of teachers.
Punjab Teachers’ Union (PTU) president Syed Sajjad Akhbar Kazmi said, “A nation cannot prosper without teachers’ contributions.” He said some teachers were facing financial problems.
The PTU representative said teachers working in far-flung areas should be recognised by both the government and the citizens.
Other speakers complained that the government was not doing enough for their welfare. They said teachers had not been paid a performance allowance for over five years. They vowed to continue to fight for their rights.
The participants said that a nation that did not respect its teachers could not progress.
The Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) issued a white paper on Monday highlighting the “poor condition of teachers and educational institutes” in the province.
PAT Punjab president Basharat Jaspal issued the white paper at a meeting of the party’s Research Cell.
According to the document, 7,000 primary schools lacked electricity, 3,000 did not have boundary walls, 1,200 were without toilets and 700 did not have safe drinking water. It said that instead of working for the teachers’ welfare, the government had been spending funds on projects of less importance. The PAT said the government had denied teachers their right to peaceful protest. “No official ceremony has been held in the Punjab on the Teacher’s Day.”
It said the Punjab was the only province where teachers were denied 25 annual holidays. “Teachers are being treated like brick kiln workers. Over the last seven years, teachers in the province have come out on the streets on eight occasions to demand their rights… false cases have been registered against many,” the white paper said.
It said some of the teachers were transferred to far-flung areas and others were forcibly retired. “This attitude of the government is the reason behind the low literacy rate in the province. The Millennium Development Goals of achieving 100 per cent enrolment in schools has not been met. This is a big setback for the government.”
It said that a parallel education system had been introduced in the province. “There is a great difference between the salaries and privileges paid to the teachers of Danish Schools and those at other public schools,” the PAT said.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 6th, 2015.