By Gul Hamaad Farooqi
UPPER CHITRAL: Around thirty female teachers of Basic Education Community Schools in Upper Chitral District, along with hundreds of male and female students, held a peaceful protest demonstrationa nd rally to get their salaries.
The protesting teachers said that they have not been paid for 16 months and they are facing immense financial difficulties.
The teachers said that the said school were being run since 1996 under federal government project but in June of 2021, the project was handed over to the provincial government, which transferred it “Elementary Education Foundation” and the provincial government further handed over it to another run by ab “Elementary Education Foundation”.
A Basic Education School is run by a single teacher, teaching students from grade 1 to 5. There are almost 96 such schools in both the districts, Upper and Lower Chitral.
The teachers aid that the Elementary Education Foundation, after taking over the schools, has shown many schools closed duirng a verification process, despite of the schools being open and children getting education there.
The teachers also mentioned that the EEF’s District Program Officer is asking them to sign an agreemetn by which they would not be allowed to raise voice for their rights, or appaoch courts to settle issues. They said that the agreement was unfair and unethical and that their salaries have been witheheld for the last 16 months because the teachers didnot sign the “cruel contract” agreement.
The teachers were joined in the protest by a number of young children carrying placards and raising slogans.
The female teachers and students also walked to the DC office and ended their protest after successfully negotiating with the Deputy Commissioner. District Upper Chitral Deputy Commissioner Manzoor Ahmed Afridi who assured them after talking to the Additional Secretary Education Department that their problem will be solved in two weeks.
These teachers thanked the Deputy Commissioner for the talks and his assurance for solving their “genuine demands”.
It is pertinent to note that this “Basic Education Schools” are usually established inside houses in areas that are very remote and lack primary school infrastructure and other facilities. The teachers are paid minimal remunerations and their jobs are not guaranteed.