Islamabad-Basic Education Community Schools (BECS) teachers on protest at D-Chowk warned on Monday to march towards the parliament house upon non-fulfillment of their demands of regularization and unpaid salaries, Monday.  Dozens of BECS teaches from across the country have staged a sit-in at D-Chowk and are demanding the release of their nine months unpaid salaries and regularization in the service structure.

BECS teachers protest has entered the ninth day. However, the ministry of federal education has been unsuccessful in convincing the protesters to step back from the demand of regularization in service.  Secretary General BECS teachers association Nemat-ullah Khan, while talking to The Nation said that government and ministry of education is not taking the protest of the teachers seriously and said that “We will march towards the parliament house soon and protest there”.

He said that dozens of teachers including male, female and their children spent Sunday night under the open sky in a chilled weather and a number of participants have fallen sick. He said that the protestors had no arrangement of sheltering themselves in the downpour. “Our mattresses, pillows, blankets, everything is wet,” he said.  Nematullah Khan said that the police force has started threatening and manhandling us because the protestors have announced to move forward.  “Few of our colleagues were also arrested but were released later by the police,” he said.  He added that female colleagues and children are falling ill because of the chilled weather and some of them are suffering with pneumonia as well.

He also said that teachers on the protest have not stepped back from their demands of regularization and release of salaries.  Naimat-uullah Khan also said that the ministry has not admitted a single demand of the teachers and has not shown seriousness in solving the issue. He said, “We demanded to issue the notice of regularization immediately and will not leave the protest until it is met”.  He said that the teachers on protest have shown flexibility in its demand and have asked the government to issue the letter of   regularization immediately, while the ministry can take time to complete the procedure of regularization.  The protestors include women and children also who have to spend nights under the open sky, but the education ministry has not taken the matter seriously, an official of the ministry said.

The official said that so far only one round of talks has been held with the protestors three days ago, which also failed as the teachers refused to accept the notification issued by the ministry. Both sides held talks on the regularization of the teachers which is the primary demand of the BECS teachers on protest, but the ministry is not ready to accept it all of the sudden.  The official said that the maiden meeting held with the secretary education   was held due to an active role of the district administration which wanted them to vacate D-Chowk as soon as possible. 

The notification issued after the unsuccessful meeting held with the BECS teachers said that “Reference meeting with secretary of Federal Education and Professional Training, in the presence of District Administration (ICT) and the leadership of protesting BECS teachers, a written assurance is being conveyed to BECS teachers that no teacher will be removed arbitrarily, ministry will expedite honorarium issue and will be regularized as per law and policy subjected to criteria of initial contract”.

The official said that the teachers’ community refused to accept the notification as there was no order of immediate regularization and release of the salaries immediately. BECS system, now owned by federal ministry of education was initiated in 1995 as a project to provide informal education to the students living in communities where government had not established regular schools.   Under the project around 682,000 students are getting education where 12,480 teachers from the communities are registered by the government as community teachers.   The project initiated with the collaboration of Norwegian government and was run with the donation fund awarded by the government of Norway till 2003. After 2003 the project was run with the support of National Education Foundation (NEF) till 2007.  BECS teachers are being given Rs8000 monthly salary which is also due from the month of March.  Talking to The Nation, spokesperson ministry of federal education Dr Rafique Tahir said that federal minister for education Shafqat Mehmmod has raised the issue of BECS teachers’ salaries on the highest level.  He said that the ministry has started working to release the unpaid salaries of the teachers as the Prime Minister (PM) has also asked to release the salaries as the first step.   He said that the regularization in the government service requires following certain rules and procedures without which regularization is not possible.

 

ISLAMABAD: BECS teachers contiune their protest in favour of demands at D-Chowk despite heavy rain.–Staff photo by Syed Mehdi