Punjab turns a blind eye to teachers' starvation

BAHAWALNAGAR - As many as 250 teachers of Masjid Maktab Schools established by Nawab of Bahawalpur in 1927 are facing starvation due to government apathy across the district, it is learnt.
These teachers have been rendering services against the monthly stipend of Rs 250 since 1984.Masjid Maktab Schools were established across the state. The purpose behind the step was to impart education to poor children of deserted area. At that time more than 350 schools were established in Bahawalnagar and the teachers appointed in the schools got their salaries from the Bahawalpur state. Later in 1984, Mohammad Khan Junejo systemised these schools and fixed the monthly stipend of an Imam-cum-Mualim Rs250.
Now, 26 years has passed but they were given no pay increment. During the period, neither their services were regularized, nor they were given stipend even equal to the monthly wage of a laborer.
The government and International organisation lay stress on basic education especially in far flung neglected areas and make tall claims, but here their claims exposed as no authority pay heed to hue and cry of the teachers despite their repeated requests.
Mohammad Abbas, a teacher, said that by giving them (teachers) Rs250 monthly stipend, the government is making mockery of them. Teacher Hafiz Bilal said that instead of humiliating the noble profession and teachers, the govt should regularise them and pay them at least equal to a labourer's monthly wage.
Another teacher, Mohammad Husain, said that we invite economists to prepare a one month-budget of a single person rather than a family withing Rs250. "It is impossible for us to manage our bread and butter with this so called stipend. At the moment, about 110 such schools are functioning across the district under the education department," he added.
Presence of these teachers in the schools are being monitored by the department even then the government is not ready to address their grievances as well as the students of these schools, he said.
Besides the miseries of the teachers, about 15,000 students of these schools are getting education up to primary level and compelled to sit under open sky in scorching heat. Most of these schools are running without buildings while buildings of some schools are in a shambles.
The deputy district officer (education) of Bahawalnagar said that the grievances of the teachers are genuine and need immediate redressal. He added that the education department had forwarded their grievances to the finance department for enhancement of their stipend but the finance department had not yet approved it.
Assistant Education Officer Jampur Zafar Ahmad expressed his deep grief over the miserable condition of them during his visits to a school. He submitted an application to the chief minister of Punjab in June 2011 for the redress of the teachers' grievances. In reply, Mr Zafar told by the CM Complaint Cell director, "The Chief Minster has been pleased to desire to look into the matter and take action as per law." However, no action has so far been taken.

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