Sindh education minister claims 23,000 ghost recruitments in provincial education department in 2012
The Sindh government on Thursday resorted to violence to end a protest by teachers demanding payment of salaries of the last five years. Police contingents resorted to manhandling and baton charge to disperse teachers who demanded they be paid for services offered to the government .
The protesting teachers maintain that despite being hired according to rules and regulations, the government of Sindh has not paid them salaries since 2012. Despite repeated prior protests and assurances from officials concerned, the salaries have remained unpaid, forcing the agitated teachers to attempt a march towards the Sindh Assembly from Karachi Press Club on Thursday. However, their demands were met only with violence at the hands of anti-riot contingents of police. About two dozen protesting teachers were also taken into custody.
Representatives of New Teachers Action Committee (NTAC) – an association of affected teachers – said the education department had recruited teachers against vacant posts strictly on the basis of merit, but none hired in 2012 had ever been paid by the department, forcing them to resort to protests every other month.
Earlier in September, a similar protest by the teachers was also ended by a fierce baton charge and water-canon firing. However then school education secretary Abdul Aziz Uqaili had assured teachers of getting their salaries cleared within two months. NTAC said they had been forced to resume protests after the promise had remained unfulfilled. The protesters said the teachers had been assigned duties in 2013 general elections and the population census held earlier this year, adding that the government utilised their services whenever needed, but refused to pay them for the same. The hiring of teachers protesting for salaries was made in 2012, when then education minister Pir Mazharul Haq approved the recruitment of 6,750 employees in Sindh Education and Literacy Department.
On the other hand the sitting minister for education brewed up another controversy on Thursday by claiming that there had been gross irregularities in the hiring of teachers in the province. Sindh Education Minister Jam Mehtab Dahar told reporters that there had been 23,000 ghost hiring of teachers across the province in 2012 despite there being no vacancies. He said the department had been bribed to engage in mass hiring, adding that many hired were not even acquainted with subjects they were hired for. Dahar said the Sindh government would evaluate all teachers through fresh tests. He went on to add that the protests were a planted occurrence.
Though the claims by the minister call for thorough and impartial investigation against officials involved in unlawful hiring of teachers, it is equally important for the government to clear dues of teachers against services they have performed for authorities in the last five years. Heads must roll, both within the education department and the hired teachers, in order that the briber and bribed, if any, both understand the consequences of such illegal activities.