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Punjab

Teachers’ strike takes toll on students

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RAWALPINDI:

Students of all government educational institutions across the Rawalpindi district continue to suffer owing to the ongoing strike of the teaching and non-teaching staff against the re-appointment of the new head of the District Education Authority (DEA).

The teachers and the clerical staff have locked horns with the provincial education ministry and the district administration over the re-appointment of DEA Executive Officer Kashif Azam.

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The striking teachers locked the main gates of all government schools early in the morning on Wednesday, forcing the students to return home in despair.

Though a negligible number of schools remained open, where the students’ attendance remained very low. These schools also sent the students back home early as no teacher was available to take classes.

The education system in all government education institutions has come to a standstill as the ongoing strike entered its 9th day on Wednesday. Activities related to Independence Day celebrations have also been cancelled in all government schools due to the ongoing strike.

The striking teachers have boycotted all events of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and events including quizzes, speech and drama competitions and other activities.

On the other hand, private school teachers have rejected the demand of the protesting teachers to close private educational institutions stating that though they fully supported the protesting teachers and clerks and will participate in their demonstrations and face lawsuits, they will never leave their students in the lurch by closing the schools.

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They said that private schools will not put the future of their students at stake under any circumstances. They said that classes and co-curricular activities will continue and activities related to Independence Day celebrations will also continue in private schools across the district.

On the other hand, teachers of government schools have announced the boycott of Independence Day celebration activities across the district.

They have announced to continue with the strike till the transfer of Executive Officer Kashif Azam, who shows up in his office daily only to sit idle.

Sources said that a meeting of the committee under the chair of Punjab Education Minister Murad Raas is expected to be held on Thursday to solve the ongoing burning issue.

Education department sources said that the issue was expected to be solved amicably this week since proposals, expected to be acceptable to both parties, have been thrashed out by the committee headed by Murad Raas.

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Last week teachers and the clerical staff manhandled District Education Authority’s Chief Executive Officer Kashif Azam soon after he reached the office to assume charge after he was appointed to the post for the third time.

They tortured Kashif Azam and tore his clothes, dragging him on the road for several minutes. The enraged teachers and the clerical staff also assaulted Deputy Education Officer Malik Asif Ali, when he attempted to save the CEO, who was seriously injured and fell unconscious on the ground semi-naked, as his clothes were torn up.

Later, the CEO escaped and saved his life by hiding in a rickshaw parked nearby. A medical report mentioned that he sustained fractures in his ribs. Later, the education officers were taken to a safe place in police custody.

Waris Khan police reached the spot and removed a strike camp set up by the teachers and clerical staff. Police arrested 20 teachers and clerical staff while all other teachers and clerks escaped from the scene.

During the attack on the education officer, female teachers ran away screaming and took shelter in a nearby girls’ school, whereas many lady teachers hid in nearby shops.

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Kashif Azam served as the Chief Executive Officer in Rawalpindi twice before. Teachers and clerical organisations have been protesting against his appointment for the third time.

Earlier, teachers’ leaders Shahid Mubarak, Malik Amjad, and clerical staff leader Raja Aftab alleged that the attitude of the education officer was outrageous and disgracefu

Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2022.



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Punjab

Dept turns blind eye to rare birds poaching

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LAHORE:

The hunting of rare species of falcons and quails peaked in the province, due to the negligence of the Punjab wildlife authorities. A large number of falcons and quails were hunted in different districts of the province during the last month.

Punjab wildlife officials said over 100 hunters were arrested and fined over hunting rare birds during the past week. Hunting rare wild birds reached a peak in Punjab due to the inattention of Secretary Forests and Wildlife and Director General Punjab Wildlife. Allegedly, people are secretly hunting rare species of falcons and quails in many areas, sometimes with the connivance of wildlife staff.

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Around 123 hunters were arrested and fined millions of rupees for hunting falcons, wild quails and wild pigeons during the last week, but the number of sport hunters is growing. Most hunting of rare species took place in Salt Range, Sargodha, Rajanpur, Bahawalnagar, Bhakkar, Pakpattan, Okara and Muzaffargarh. According to sources, hunters are slapped with small fines, but fines alone cannot address the rapidly declining numbers of wild birds.

A former director of wildlife department said during September and October, falcons and other migratory birds arrive in Pakistan. He added that falcons are rare and precious birds and their price is determined by the breed, size and health. A female falcon costs more than a male and the price of varies between Rs10,000 and Rs10 million.

He further disclosed that staff only catch the hunter as a formality and fine them a small amount. Falcon hunters have a strong network, which includes poachers, dealers, smugglers and people from the department itself. On the other hand, the officials said that action is being taken across the province against those who hunt wild birds, on the instructions of the secretary of forests and wildlife. If any employee of the department is involved in illegal hunting, action will be taken against them. According to the authorities, poachers can be fined and punished as per the Wildlife Act.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2022.



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Punjab

CCPO Dogar’s position hangs in the balance

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LAHORE:

The government of Punjab, other than a verbal affirmation, has not taken a formal decision regarding the retention of Additional IG (AIG) Ghulam Mehmood Dogar, a grade 21 officer, in his position as the Capital City Police Officer (CCPO).

Earlier this week, the federal government transferred Dogar from the post and asked him to report to the Establishment Division. According to reports, the federal government, led by Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), was frustrated with him over the registration of a case under anti-terrorism charges against two of its leaders, Javed Latif and Maryam Aurangzeb.

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Punjab Home Minister Hashim Dogar made the claim before the media.

As Dogar’s transfer orders were reported through the media, Hashim Dogar asked the AIG to continue serving as CCPO pending further orders. Chief Minister Punjab Pervaiz Elahi termed the orders unlawful and refused to comply by them.

The next day, the CM held a meeting with senior officers of Punjab and ordered them to remain at their positions, pending permission from the Government of Punjab.

The CM, in an exclusive meeting with Dogar, reportedly assured him that they will not let him be transferred and had also praised him and his services.

However, to retain his position, the provincial government reportedly had not taken any formal action so far, nor had it sent in writing to the Establishment or Services and General Administration Department Punjab anything in regards to Dogar’s position.

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As per the departmental regulations, being a PSP officer ie a federal government employee, Dogar was mandated to report to the Establishment Division within a week. If he failed to do this, he may be issued a show-cause notice explaining his actions. Failure to respond could lead to a suspension.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2022.



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Punjab

Schools heads to pay for poor results

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LAHORE:

The Punjab School Education Department has decided to take action against the heads of schools showing poor performance in the recently announced matriculation results.

The department has reportedly given the last warning to the headmasters and headmistresses to submit their schools’ results. The chief executive officers (CEO) of all district education authorities have also been instructed to submit the data pertaining to the results.

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According to school education department officials, thousands of students across Punjab showed poor performance in the annual results and the school heads and district education authority CEOs responsible would face action under the Punjab Employees Efficiency, Discipline and Accountability (PEEDA) Act.

On the other hand, CEOs appear to be hesitant to submit the data of performance of schools in their districts to the department.

An official said there was a shortage of around 100,000 schoolteachers in the province, which was the main cause of the poor results.

The officials of the education department said while speaking to The Express Tribune that about 30% of schools in Punjab had shown poor results in the matriculation examinations. They said the department wanted to compile the performance data of the school heads of each district.

“An instruction was sent to the education authority CEOs of all districts of Punjab to submit their data to the department. However, the CEOs ignored the department’s instruction.

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Now the department has issued a last warning to the CEOs concerned in all districts to submit the performance data so that action may be initiated against all headmasters, headmistresses and CEOs whose results are unsatisfactory,” said a senior official of the school education department.

“The department will take strict action against all school heads whose students’ success rate was less than 10%. The action will be taken under the PEEDA Act,” he added. The official said personal hearings would be held to ascertain the reasons of the poor results.

“We asked the CEOs two weeks ago to send us the names of all headmasters whose schools’ result is poor, but they appear to be protecting the educationists who may face action as they did not send us the names,” he said.

A headmaster, Muhammd Farooq, alleged that the provincial government and school education department were trying to cover up their own poor performance by taking action against teachers.

“There is a shortage of around 100,000 schoolteachers in Punjab but we have to continue the academic activities. A large number of schools in the province do not have science teachers. This is affecting the performance of students from poor families as there is a trend of private tuition in most districts and the students are left at the mercy of private academies to pass their exams. But there are thousands of students whose families cannot afford private coaching,” he said.

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He said the teachers could not do much amid the circumstances where staff shortage and in adequate infrastructure, including labs and school buildings are directly affecting the annual examination results. Farooq said the government should resolve these issues before taking action against the headmasters.

Punjab Teachers Union secretary general Rana Liaqat Ali said it was very difficult to show good results amid a shortage of 100,000 teachers.

The school headmasters and the whole teaching community is struggling hard to give a bright future to the students but our genuine issues should be addressed.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2022.



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