Karachi schools election holidays | Teachers election duties

Schools closed for three days
Karachi, May 09: The split between private school associations over election holidays caused much confusion and chaos on Wednesday when attendance remained very low in the schools that were open.

The government notification regarding election holiday schedule expected on Tuesday came rather late. And it was for schools to remain closed from May 9 to May 11 instead of the schedule issued by All Private Schools Management Association (APSMA), which had mentioned May 8 also as a holiday.

"We were expecting a government notification including Wednesday as a holiday, too. It also made sense considering the city's law and order situation. But the notification finalised by the CM came late in the evening on Tuesday when it was next to impossible for all schools to notify the parents," Chairman of All Private Schools Management Association Syed Khalid Shah complained to Dawn.

"I happen to know that the summary sent to the CM was for May 8 to 11 but somehow one day was cut and it was changed to May 9," he added.

"The schools with an SMS system informed the parents about the change but those that don't have that facility failed to do so and their students missed school on Wednesday despite the schools being open," he said.

"I think the one to be blamed here is the education department for remaining so lax on this issue. You can get an idea of the government's attitude towards education from the fact that no education minister has been appointed by the interim government here," he regretted.

Meanwhile, Senior Vice Chairman of Private Schools Management Association Sharaf uz Zaman, who had earlier opposed the idea of extra holidays, said that the association would follow the government notification now. Dawn

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SPLA threatens to boycott election duties
Karachi: President Sindh Professors and Lecturers Association (SPLA) Asif Zaidi on Wednesday condemned undue pressure of the returning officers (ROs) and the education department on teachers for the performance of general election duties. He urged the government to end this discriminatory attitude towards the academic staff.

He was addressing a press conference at the DJ Science College. President SPLA Karachi Prof Iftikhar Azmi, Yaqoob Chandio and others were also present on this occasion. He informed that Professor of Mathematics Department DJ Science College Hasnain Akhtar Gilani could not withstand the severe pressure and passed away on Wednesday.

Prof Gilani suffered a heart attack last Sunday during a meeting regarding election duties and died early morning on Wednesday at a hospital. A delegation of the SPLA also met with the secretary education and recorded their protest over the discriminatory attitude towards teachers. They urged the federal and provincial governments to decrease the burden of duties on teachers; otherwise, they would be compelled to boycott election duties.

He said that facilities were not being provided by the election commission of Sindh and the government to female teachers for performing their duties as assistant presiding officers.

Prof Azmi said that election was the continuation of democratic process and it should be carried on, but in such a law and order situation, it was difficult for teachers to discharge their duties. "When election candidates are afraid of taking out rallies in Karachi, how can teachers not be fearful?"

He said around 20 teachers had received show-cause notices over general election duties, which was tantamount to hurling "threats" at teachers by the education department. He urged the government to provide security to teachers.

Chandio said teaching was a respectable job, and the professionals should be treated with respect and honour. He said mismanagement and lack of coordination between the election commission of Sindh and other institutions was visible, and needed to be improved immediately.

The SPLA demanded of the government to ensure transportation facility for teachers during election day, arrange proper security and life insurance for polling staff, exempt ill teachers from duties on medical grounds and withdraw show-cause notices till 9th May, otherwise, the SPLA would announce its further line of action on Thursday about the possible boycott of election duties.

The SPLA said that federal, provincial education departments and ROs were responsible for the death of Prof Gilani.

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Teachers demand foolproof security
Karachi: With the elections just around the corner, a huge number of government officials, particularly female teachers, have refused to perform their duties on the day of the polls due to the volatile security situation.

At an unofficial meeting on Monday at a local hotel, lecturers, teachers and other staff of the education department have demanded that the Election Commission of Pakistan and the caretaker Sindh government provide foolproof security arrangements.

This scribe learnt that a large number of lady teachers have applied for leave or asked to be excused from performing election duties. The teachers say that there is a massive sense of insecurity among them and they are willing to take the risk of asking for leave despite the threat of being charged or fired.

The staff that is to be deployed at the polling stations has asked DG Rangers and the Sindh inspector general of police to ensure their safety in all those areas that have been declared sensitive.

Another report also suggests that political parties are facing an uphill task to find lady polling agents as the male members of their families have barred them from taking part in any election activity. Sources say that since three parties have openly declared that they are being targeted by the Tehreek-e-Taliban, nobody is safe.

The election staff is not satisfied with the security measures of the government. They point out that the lack of political rallies in the city is proof of the sense of fear that has prevailed among locals.

Many citizens say that they will gauge the situation in the morning and subsequently decide whether they will go the polls.

On the other hand, some remain skeptical if their vote will be of any use as it is the same old faces that are standing for elections.

However, the locals all agreed that if the caretaker chief minister assures that no terror attack will take place, only then will they be ready to go and vote. "No vote is worth risking one's life for," said one of them. The news

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Thalassaemia centre inaugurated at KU
Karachi: Karachi University vice chancellor Dr Mohammed Qaiser on Wednesday inaugurated a thalassaemia screening centre on the campus and announced that the university would be transformed into a "thalassaemia-free educational institution".

The Thalassaemia Screening Centre at the KU was established by the Omair Sana Foundation (OSF), a non-governmental organisation working for the elimination of thalassaemia and other genetic blood disorders from society.

Expressing concern over the growing incidence of thalassaemia in society, the vice chancellor said the centre would help students get themselves screened against thalassaemia and other genetic blood disorders and create awareness of the disease.

He announced that with the help of OSF experts, the KU would be transformed into a thalassaemia-free zone within next four to five years where everybody would know about the causes and preventive measures against the disease.

Haematologist Dr Saqib Hussain Ansari, KU students' adviser Dr Ansar Rizvi, Dr Rahat Hussain, Dr Zeeshan Ansari and Obaid Hashmi of the OSF also spoke. ppi

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