The leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, Ali Ameen Gandapur, promised during his campaign in the run-up to the May 11 general elections that, once elected as member of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, he would re-instate all the 1613 school teachers dismissed from services on charges of being appointed in violation of merit in Ismail Khan. Mr Gandapur reiterated his promise while talking to local media following his election as member of the assembly and subsequent induction into the provincial cabinet.
The Muthahida Majlis Amal (MMA) government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (2002-2007) appointed a large number of teachers in Dera Ismail Khan district, particularly in its last year, 2007. The following coalition government of Awami National Party (ANP) and Pakistan People Party (PPP) in KP terminated some 1613 teachers in 2008 on charges of being appointed in violation of merit.
The sacked teachers challenged the government decision in Peshawar High Court, which referred the case to service Tribunal in Peshawar. The services tribunal, on recommendation of a committee headed by the Secretary Elementary Education, ordered the restoration of 440 qualified school teachers out of 1,613, while the remaining were found appointed in violation of merit.
President of the District All Teachers Association, Yaqoob Babar, talking to the Truth Tracker, confirmed the government has restored 440 teachers both male and female. He said the Association is struggling for the restoration of the remaining sacked teachers. Babar pointed out, though, that the total number of sacked teachers is about 1112 by now, as some have been reinstated, some joined other services and few had died. However, the case is still reported in the media with the figure 1613.
In an interview with Truth Tracker, Ali Ameen Gandapur, provincial minister for Revenue, said the issue (of 1613 sacked teachers) is very important. “We are working on the issue and will resolve it soon,” Gandapur tells TT.
Gandapur said a summary has already been sent to the chief minister house for approval in this regard.
“The CM house has dispatched the summary to law department for vetting and completing legal formalities,” says Gandapur.
According to the minister, the delay in moving the summary to the chief minister’s office was caused by the lengthy debate on the provincial budget in the KP assembly.
“…[We were] waiting for conclusion of budget session to move a resolution (in assembly) for reinstating all teachers,” says the minister. Now it (the resolution) is ready, but once approved by the law department it will be tabled in the house,” he said.
Talking to TT, President of All Primary Teacher Association (APTA) Khyber Pakhtunkhaw, Malik Khalid Khan, asked the government to immediately reinstate the sacked teachers.
“..[The issue of] illegality is irrelevant.. .once the appointment is made it means the criteria for appointment has been fulfilled.”
Malik, however, said those teachers who had committed forgery deserved to be punished accordingly.
The chief of Jamiat-ul-Ulemai Islam (JUI-F), Mulana Fazl-ur-Rehman, who hails from DIK, met with Chief Minister KP Pervez Khattak in June demanding restoration of all the laid-off teachers. Other lawmakers from the region including cabinet minister Israr Khan Gandapur and MPA Javed Akbar Khan are also campaigning for restoration of the sacked teachers.
The Executive District Officer (EDO) of Education in Dera Ismail Khan, Qasim Khan, when contacted by TT, expressed his ignorance, and said as he has been recently appointed and knew nothing about the issue.
The promise of PTI leader is not just an election gimmick made to win votes during his election campaign. Mr Gandapur reiterated the same later on when he got elected and was inducted into the provincial cabinet. This is evidence of the seriousness of a commitment to resolve the issue of the teachers. The incumbent coalition government in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa is led by PTI and, if serious efforts are made, the terminated teachers could be reinstated.
Muhammad Yaqoob Babar, President of the District All Teachers Association, said the termination of 1613 teachers is not a small issue.
“Such a large number of [teachers] terminations led to shortage of staff in primary schools, putting the studies of thousands of students at risk,” Babar tells TT.
Babar said that the stubbornness of the government on the issue is leading to another serious matter.
“Since sacking of these teachers, not a single teacher has been appointed in D I Khan….[because] whenever the government announces new posts, the affected teachers seek a stay order from courts on the fresh appointments of teachers,” says Babar.
Kifayat, a teacher who said he had a Postgraduate Degree in Arts and Bachelor in Education (M.A, B.ed) - said the government terminated his services without looking into his educational qualifications.
Muhammad Nadeem told almost the exact same story. Talking to TT, he said prior joining the education department as a primary school teacher, he was employed in the district police department. “Due to risk involved in police services my family advised me to resign and join (the) teaching profession,” says Nadeem.
“To my misfortune, I was terminated along with hundreds of others,” he said, lamenting his loss of both jobs.
On investigation, Truth Tracker found that out of the total sacked teachers, eight had died, taking the hope of reinstatement to their graves.
Keeping view of the importance of the issue, almost all the political parties are pushing for restoration of the teachers.
PTI is also seriously working on the promise and the promise is in progress.