PU harassment charges | Punjab teachers' protest

Harassment charges against PU VC
Lahore, Oct 01: A Punjab University (PU) Law College lecturer, Khujista Rehan, who had leveled harassment charges against the varsity vice-chancellor (VC), has lambasted the provincial ombudsperson and some members of the inquiry committee formed to examine the case of harassment.

Addressing a press conference at the Lahore Press Club on Sunday, the female lecturer expressed complete distrust of the province's first female Ombudsperson Mira Phailbus saying the lady was not a law graduate and had instead studied Geography owing to which the she was allegedly ineligible to take up her case. She added the Ombudsperson was drawing a salary of Rs 400,000 per month and allegedly two million rupees were spent on purchasing official vehicle for her but she (the Ombudsperson) was ineligible to implement the Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010.

Khujista Rehan also expressed concerns over two members of the inquiry committee, including Higher Education special secretary Suhail Shehzad and Irum Bukhari, Secretary, Women Development Department, Punjab. The lecturer said she had already raised concern over inclusion of Suhail Shehzad in an earlier committee but he was again included in the new committee.

According to her Suhail Shehzad had not asked the PU VC for comments over her complaint despite orders from the Punjab governor. Irum Bukhari, she said, was member of the PU syndicate. Khujista Rehan said she would not appear before the inquiry committee meeting to be held on Monday (today). Following her objection over earlier committee a new committee comprising Director General Judicial Academy Justice Syed Jamshed Ali, former judge of the Supreme Court, Secretary Women Development Department Irum Bukhari and Special Secretary Higher Education Suhail Shehzad was formed which had set September 30 (today) as the date of hearing. However Khujista Rehan said that she would not appear in front of any authority till the PU VC Dr Mujahid Kamran was suspended from his office. She also demanded that "a law literate person" be appointed as Ombudsperson, instead of Mira Phailbus.

The Law College lecturer also tore apart a copy of the Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010 in front of the media, asking what the use the Act was when justice could not be dispensed.

Khujista Rehan also came hard upon NGOs saying the foreign funded non profit organizations did not take up her case despite the fact that she was a foreign qualified lady. These NGOs highlighted Mukhtaran Mai's case and the case of alleged killing of women in far flung Kohistan area but no one came to her help, she added. To a question she denied the allegation that she went on an 11 month ex Pakistan leave without taking permission from the university. Meanwhile in a press release, PU Academic Staff Association (PU ASA), the elected representative body of teachers, demanded the provincial ombudsperson proceed under contemned of court against Khujista Rehan for allegedly making false propaganda against Provincial ombudsperson and the PU VC to serve her economic and political interests.

The PU ASA spokesman said Ms Khujista went on an 11 months ex-Pakistan leave allegedly without taking permission from the university. When she returned the university syndicate could proceed against her and dismiss her from service under PEEDA Act, however, taking a lenient view, she was granted 11 month leave without payment. Later, she also applied for 11 month salaries and other benefits for the period she had spent abroad, the syndicate denied her request in its decision in a meeting held on March.

In this decision, Rozina Aalam, who was representing the HEC in the PU syndicate, observed that "proceeding on leave without sanction by Khujista Rehan in itself was a case of indiscipline which would not be tolerated at all". Another member, Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik, endorsed these comments, according to the PUASA press release.

The spokesman said the matter is sub judice, as the case was pending at the Lahore High Court as well as with the Provincial Ombudsperson, the press conference was allegedly illegal. The spokesman also said Ms Khujista had herself filed a complaint with the provincial ombudsperson Mira Phailbus. The news

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Date-sheet of teachers' protest
Lahore: The schoolteachers are set to launch a protest campaign against the Punjab government's policies including setting up of the District Education Authority (DEA), additional duties and penalisation of teachers.

The Punjab Teachers Union (PTU) led by Allah Bakhsh Qaiser and secretary-general Taj Haider have rejected the government's decision of setting up DEAs, punishment handed out to teachers on the basis of weak results and non-academic duties being assigned to the schoolteachers.

Mr Qaiser said the Punjab government's plan to induct seven councillors as DEA members would destroy the education system because they would not be having acumen to run the education department affairs in a bid to meet standards and objectives.

He stressed that the government should improve assessment system so that real-time results could be attained.

To begin with, the PTU has decided to hold a protest demonstration in front of the Lahore Press Club, followed by a protest march up to the Punjab Assembly on Oct 3. Mr Qaiser said the union would organise protest meetings, rallies, academic boycotts and subsequently hunger-strike camps if the demands were not met.

Meanwhile, the Joint Action Committee of Teachers, Punjab has decided to observe Salam Teachers Day on Oct 5 as "Day of Protection of Teachers' Respect". The day will feature protest camps and protest demonstrations at district and divisional levels.

Another PTU faction's central president, Syed Sajjad Akbar Kazmi, and other leaders have said 2013 was very hard for teachers as the government kept teachers engaged in non-academic duties that led to poor results. He said the teachers then faced punishments like re-allocation of posts and 'rationalisation'.

Now, Mr Kazmi said the Punjab government was pursuing a policy of setting up DEAs. He said the officials at the DEAs would have unlimited powers, which would eventually destroy the education system. He said the teachers, particularly women, would be harassed. He said the DEAs would also reduce opportunity of teachers' postings against administrative posts.

Mr Kazmi said the school education department's various policies had failed because they were formed without the consultation of teachers the actual stakeholders. Citing examples, he said, most girls had left schooling due to consolidation of schools and many students said goodbye to education due to introduction of English-medium education system in government schools.

Punjab School Education Department's Budget and Planning Deputy Secretary Qaiser Rasheed, on the other hand, asked why teacher unions were against accountability. "The accountability system is introduced to improve standards as well as teachers' performance," he said and added that only the delinquent teachers were against accountability. Dawn

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