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BY: Rayees Masroor

Thousands of SSA teachers are going through a tough ordeal as they are without salaries since Feb 2018, and unfortunately there seems to be no serious concern from the stakeholders to resolve the issue. The sufferings of these teachers is turning out to be a humanitarian crisis which needs immediate attention as it is never easy to survive in the contemporary times without bread and butter.

These poor teachers have been without salary for the last four months and no immediate solution seems visible. On the one hand these teachers have been subjected to dehumanizing treatment by the establishment while, on the other hand, various trade union leaders, groups and their agents have been exploiting the situation to strengthen their respective unions by blackmailing the community. Many people are asking the question that how come different unions can adopt different strategies in pursuit of a simple common goal.

The situation on the grounds reflects a humanitarian crisis as these teachers are penniless on the eve of Eid ul Fitar. It is only possible in this part of the world that a teacher has to protest and beg for his legitimate right to wages. It’s not only a humanitarian crisis but it’s a violation of constitution, ethics and various industrial laws. The sad part of the story is that there seems to be no concern or empathy expressed by various civil society groups and human rights activists and organisations. Its not only an issue of few thousand SSA teachers but also a question of survival of thousands of people that comprise the families of these teachers. It’s the most delicate issue of education of scores of children and survival of elderly parents of these teachers.

Government needs to wake up and show due compassion towards the plight of these teachers, after all the strikes and protests also leads to academic loss suffered by poor children who are enrolled in governmental educational institutions and being taught by SSA teachers. The government should not try to capitalize on the disunity of various trade unions. Many are creating confusion among the common teachers by distortions, outright lies and propaganda only to add insult to their injury and cases have been reported where the SSA teachers and their families suffer abject depression which clearly reflects the seriousness of the issue. The government should form a committee to address the issue in a time bound manner.

There is no denying the fact that this situation has risen due to the mismanagement and the abuse of the SSA scheme by the previous dispensation as the teachers have been appointed without taking into consideration their future and all the aspects of the scheme. It’s now incumbent upon the government of the day to take corrective steps in order to secure the future of thousands of well qualified and well trained SSA teachers, the immediate step in this direction could be the delinking of salaries of head teachers who are drawing huge salaries from SSA but they happen to be the regular SSRB teachers and their salaries could be drawn from the state exchequer without any hitch. It is not rocket science and if the government wished to resolve the issue, there are ample ways of dealing with it justly. In order to streamline the SSA salary, the education minister has already formed a committee in this regard but there’s little optimism among the affected lot.

Let the government have some vision and some magnanimity in realizing that it isn’t just about SSA teachers, their salaries, streamlining or acceptance, it is also a matter of our future generation which is suffering for no reason!

The author can be reached at [email protected]

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