Protesting teachers call APC from across Sindh for today

Karachi:January 2:The protesting government school teachers have invited an all parties conference of Sindh at the Karachi Press Club on Tuesday to discuss the problems they are facing and suggest possible solutions.

The protest sit-in of thousands of teachers continued for the eighth consecutive day on Monday as they vowed to keep fighting for their rights. The representatives, however, did not immediately clarify as to who or which parties would be attending the APC they have called.

Shafi Muhammad, a representative of protesting teachers, said that they have two demands – regularisation of NTS teachers for groups appointed in 2014 and 2010 and promotion of primary teachers to grade 16.

He said that the authorities have promised that both the issues will be solved by January 3. “But if they fail to act on their promise, then we will move towards Bilawal House and the Red Zone,” he added.

The protesters comprising groups of teachers – two groups demanding regularisation and another – the Primary Teachers Association – demanding promotions to grade 16 have been camped outside the KPC since December 25 after police baton-charged them and arrested 30 protesters that day to prevent them from moving to the Red Zone.

Several political party leaders have visited them and expressed solidarity with them since then. Earlier last week, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah had approved in a cabinet meeting that a bill be passed through the provincial assembly to regularise teachers appointed through the National Testing Service in 2014.

Similarly, in a meeting held between the representatives of the protesting groups and government officials on December 29 at the commissioner’s office, it was also suggested that primary school teachers in Sindh would be promoted to grade 16. However, the government officials had said that the Sindh government would first reach out to other provinces to confirm if their primary teachers were promoted and then follow suit.

The protesting groups had, however, rejected the proposals and announced to continue the protest at KPC until all their grievances were addressed. The protesters initially consisted of four major groups: NTS teachers appointed in 2014 and teachers appointed in 2010 through a test at the Sindh University, who are demanding regularisation; the PTA, who are demanding promotions and the New Teachers Action Committee which comprises teachers appointed in 2012 by former education minister Pir Mazharul Haq, who were demanding release of salaries unpaid since then.

The total strength of NTS teachers is 15,000; teachers appointed in 2010 are 8,800 in number; the PTA has 40,000 members; and the NTAC has a 4,400-strong membership comprising both teaching and non-teaching staff. On Sunday, the NTAC group had called off its protest stating that no one was listening to them.
SZABMU VC tenure about to end but successor not in sight

Islamabad:January 2: Though Professor Javed Akram is going to complete his four-year stint at the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Medical University (SZABMU) as its first vice-chancellor in the next five days, it is still not known who will fill his shoes for the next term.

Ironically, even the process to appoint the new vice-chancellor (VC) has yet to be begun by the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD), which oversees this first and only government medical university of the capital city.

After the SZABMU’s establishment in March 2013 through an Act of Parliament, Prof Javed, the then principal of Lahore’s Allama Iqbal Medical College and elder brother of current commerce minister Pervaiz Malik, was made its first permanent vice-chancellor for four years on January 7, 2014, by the chancellor, the country’s president, on the recommendation of the Search Committee, which interviewed 39 candidates from within the country and abroad, including some professors of PIMS, Islamabad, the attached government hospital.

If the contract is strictly followed, January 6 will be his last day in office. However, his departure is surrounded by uncertainty until now as even the Search Committee hasn’t been founded to pick his successor. Professor Javed is understood to have written to the CADD secretary last August for the initiation of the process to find his successor believing that the nomination will take around six months, but to no avail. Now, the chances are that he will asked to stay put until a permanent replacement is found. Under the law, the Capital Administration and Development Division is to form the VC Select Committee in consultation with the higher education regulator, HEC, to interview candidates before recommending three of them to the chancellor for picking one to fill the top SZABMU post.

The committee consisting of the representatives of the HEC, CADD, and education and law ministries requires the prime minister’s formal consent to become functional. Now as the committee has no existence, there’re fears about a long delay in the appointment of the next permanent VC to the university, which stands on the PIMS premises in the centre of Islamabad.

When contacted, Professor Javed insisted that he won’t cling on to the VC’s post and that the pro-VC would succeed him on term completion in line with the law. “I’m not interested in my tenure’s extension. In my opinion, there should be no extension and instead, the university should have a regular VC. What I’m only interested in is the flourishing of the university with a proper leadership in place as it is an asset for the entire country,” he said. The VC regretted that the Capital Administration and Development Division didn’t heed his August request for the immediate start of search for his successor, which should have taken place automatically.

He said he had written another letter to the CADD secretary on Monday hoping for the immediate action on the matter. CADD spokesman Attiqur Rehman told ‘The News’ that the issue related to the separation of PIMS from the SZABMU had delayed the VC appointment process and since the issue was near resolution through legislation, he hoped for the early appointment of Professor Javed’s successor.The news.