Officials of the Punjab Literacy & Non Formal Basic Education (L&NFBE) Department on Thursday accepted the two key demands made by protesting employees and teachers, ending the daylong protest and sit-in outside the Punjab Assembly at the Chairing Cross junction in Lahore.
The protest was staged by Punjab Literacy Association (PLA) against the department and the Punjab government, wherein protesting teachers demanded regularisation of the 1,206 employees and a minimum salary of 15,000.
The protest ended late on Thursday after detailed negotiations between officials of L&NFBE and the PLA delegation. The department agreed that no employee would be laid off as the department ended its current projects and moved on to newer projects. Instead, the people working would be accommodated in the next project. Officials also agreed that the salary of teachers would be revised to Rs 15,000 in the new project, while the teachers would be regularised later.
The L&NFBE department aims to bring the literacy rate in Punjab province to 100 percent by 2030. For the purpose, it is currently running six projects that included the Punjab Non-Formal Education Project (PNFEP), Taleem Sab Ke Lye (TSKL), Monitoring and Evaluation Project, Human Resource Development Institute (HRDI) and Curriculum and Material Development Project (CMDP). The department runs more than 13,000 non-formal basic education (NFBE) schools, 400,000 NFBE learner centres, 6,300 Adult Literacy Centres (ALCs) and 36,000 adult learner centres.
The project began in 2002 and hired 1,206 staff in its Project Management Unit (PMU) on contractual basis and employed 15,000 teachers spread across the 36 districts of Punjab. The staff claims that regular jobs were promised, but and time and again, the department reneged on its promises. Lately, there emerged rumours that the employees would be fired when the department moves to newer programmes. The 15,000 teachers employed by the L&NFBE department were being a stipend of Rs 5,000 a month for their efforts to educate students through non-formal literacy centres. A revision of the salary to a minimum Rs 15,000 was a key demand on part of PLA
Hundreds of employees of the department had led a protest march on The Mall on Thursday, leading to roadblocks and massive traffic jams. A round of negotiations began later in the day that resulted in the department eventually ceding to the employee’s demands.