BY ALI NAQVI –
Government’s repeated claims to create jobs have not been more than just rhetoric. Not to mention a large population of youth that is jobless, the people on job are not being treated the way they should have been by the Government of Punjab. Teachers in Punjab are going through the worst of time since the PTI led government took hold of the biggest province in the country. Teachers form the backbone of a good education system. It was hoped that the new government that talked much about health and education would work seriously to make an all-round education policy with top priority given to teachers.
The previous Punjab Government made a law that said that teachers of grade 9, 14 and 16 will be regularized after 4 years of service. School Education Department under the Buzdar administration failed to implement the law and even after the completion of 5 years of service in 2019 teachers were not regularized, instead contracts were extended.
Now in 2020 unfortunately things are no different. The 16 scale teachers are still waiting to be regularized under Punjab Regularization of Service Act 2018 (ACT XV of 2018). But that’s not the only thing they are worried about, the teachers of 16 scale have been directed to go to Public Service Commission to appear for test and interview and only then they will be regularized on the recommendations of Public Service Commission. It is ridiculous to ask teachers who have already gone through the process to appear again for the test.
The contract of 16 scale teachers has been extended. But for that to take effect a lengthy process of documentation is required. In the situation of lockdown the due process and documentation seems impractical. As we all know schools are closed, there is no staff clerical or otherwise and no school management is available. Just like all offices AG Office is also closed as a result of Coronavirus lockdown. Teachers have no clue what they are supposed to do in this situation. The teachers are faced with a horrible dilemma. If they leave home, they are most vulnerable to get infected with COVID-19 which is spreading fast in all parts of Punjab. But if they stay home and do nothing their contracts will not be extended and as a result their salaries will not be released.
There are as much as 11 thousand teachers in Punjab that are facing this acute dilemma. It’s not just about 11 thousand individuals, it’s a matter of thousands of families that are already threatened by the global pandemic. Teachers have proposed a simple solution to tackle the current situation, they are demanding the AG Office, on the directions of Education Department, to notify the continuation of the disbursement of salaries until the process of contract extension is completed.
In a parliamentary system the government has two major tasks to perform; the first is to make laws and the second is to implement them. If a government cannot perform its legislative and executive duties what right has it to represent the people? The intentions of the ruling elite seems clear; they want to keep education out of people’s reach and manipulate ignorance in order to cover their own incompetence.