Early Childhood Education Teachers (ECETs) in Sindh staged a demonstration outside Karachi Press Club on Monday, demanding contracts for permanent jobs. The protesting teachers hailed from different districts of the province after they were intimated by the government that their services were no longer required. These teachers announced that the protest will continue till their demands were met, threatening the authorities of hunger strike by the demonstrators.

The Sindh government had hired the ECETs in 2009 on a contractual basis to initiate the Early Learning Program (ELP) in the province under the National Education Policy 2009. The provincial government had tasked the Sindh Education Foundation (SEF) with arranging interviews and tests for the appointment of teachers.

On the directives of then education minister, the SEF initiated the process for hiring teachers and checked credentials of thousands of candidates. After the completion of the process, around 300 teachers were hired in five districts of the province including Tando Muhammad Khan, Naushahro Feroze, Khairpur, Ghotki, and Badin. These teachers served at 30 Early Childhood Learning Centers established in each of the districts.

As per their appointment letters, the teachers had been hired for one year on contractual basis which was to be renewed if they wished to continue their service. The government, however, had hired the teachers as an experiment to see the outcomes of these learning centres and access if their success ratios. The government had also planned that if the projects were successful, the centres would be made a part of the government administered schooling system, as the web portal of the Reforms Support Unit of the school education department clarifies under the ELP’s introduction.

However, after administering 150 centres, the authorities decided not to establish any other centre and extended ELP by establishing schools and nurseries in different parts of the province.

On June 30, ELP Assistant Director Imran Bux Arisar informed the ECETs that “it has been decided to formalize and complete the closing of 150 Early Childhood Centers of the ELP under the School Education and Literacy Department with the approval by the SEF’s Board of Governors”.

The ECETs were informed that the SEF no longer required their services and would not be paid after June 30. The foundation, however, admitted the teachers’ services at the centres.

Meanwhile, Syed Murtaza Shah, a representative of an ECET’s body, ECET-Etihad Sindh, said the Sindh government was planning to hire new teachers for the Early Childhood Learning Centers in the coming month. He lamented the government for this injustice, as the already employed teachers were being terminated to hire new teachers.

“We were appointed through a test and interviews and have been working at these centres since 2009. So, this logic of the government to make new appointments by terminating the services of older ones is incomprehensible.” Shah promised that the ECET-Etihad Sindh would continue its protest until the authorities met their demands.

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