Schools reopen as teachers end lockdown


RAWALPINDI: With the acceptance of the three main demands of the government schoolteachers, clerks and non-teaching staff, the ongoing strike in public offices and lockdown of schools across the Rawalpindi Division ended on Saturday.

The government school teachers, college professors as well as clerks and nonteaching staff were part of the pen-down strike and boycott of the teaching system against privatisation of schools and amendment in leave encashment and pension rules for the last 20 days.

According to sources, with the reopening of government schools after three weeks on October 21, the teaching activities have been restored once again. Although all the public schools and offices opened on Saturday, the attendance of teachers, clerks and students remained very low.

The sources said all the teachers and clerks, who participated in the strike and sit-in or were taken into custody, reached the garrison city from Lahore on Saturday afternoon. They said from Monday, October 23, all government schools will open as usual and attendance will also be 100 per cent.

Earlier, talking to the media during a visit to the Benazir Bhutto General Hospital in Rawalpindi on the night between Friday and Saturday, Caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi said: “No public school in Punjab will be sold to the private sector. There is no such programme. The teachers got the wrong impression.”

Delving into the details of the successful negotiations between the protesters and the government officials, he said a high-level committee comprising officers of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance and the teachers and clerks representatives will be established which will consider all the demands and make recommendations for a sustainable and permanent solution in light of which actions will be taken.

“The committee will be constituted within two days and the notification will be issued,” he said. “The recommendations for the committee members have been sought from the teachers and clerks,” he added.

Leaders of the All Government Employees Grand Alliance (AGEGA), All Pakistan Clerks Association (APCA) and Punjab Teachers Union have announced that there will be no privatisation of government schools.

“The old system of leave encashment and pension rules will be restored and there will be no deduction from the emoluments of the government servants,” they said. “The notifications of these three accepted demands will be released next week from October 23 to October 28,” they added.

They said the strike and the boycott of the teaching system ended after the acceptance of their three main demands by the government. “According to the agreement, all the teachers, clerks and employees who have been issued notices of dismissal will be withdrawn on Monday, October 23, and all the arrested teachers have been released,” they said, adding all the registered cases against the protesters will be dismissed. “If our demands are not accepted, we can go back to the protest,” they warned.

AGEGA Punjab president Khalid Javed said the strike, sit-in and boycott completely ended on Saturday, October 21 and attendance has been restored. Other leaders including Shahid Mubarak, Basharat Iqbal, Akhian Gul and Chaudhary Mubasher said the offices and schools have opened. “With the end of the strike, the anti-dengue activities have started in schools and the offices of the commissioner,” they said.

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