Teachers’ pen-down strike
Peshawar University Teachers’ Association (PUTA) has announced pen-down strike in all departments from September 16 and has demanded for the acceptance of their genuine demands. The issue of financial crisis in this university and a few other old public sector universities has gone worse due to the indifference shown by the provincial government. Khyber Pukhtunkhwa government did not approach the federal government for emergency financial assistance from Higher Education Commission. As an adhoc measure ban was imposed on recruitment in universities whereas the University of Peshawar and Agriculture University are confronted with insolvency issues. These institutions have no financial resources to disburse salaries to in-services teaches and employees and release pensions to the retirees.
The financial problem of government universities is not a recent phenomenon. It is the cumulative effect of past 8 years. In the Senate meetings successive governors had told the Vice Chancellors that universities should raise their own finances and do not look up to government for assistance. Is this stance compatible to the day-in and day-out tall claims of political leadership about their keenness of promoting quality education at affordable cost? Is abdicating the national responsibility of social sector spending by the government justified? The frequent revisions of tuition fee structure have made the acquisition of higher education a prohibited tree for students of middle class and poor families. It merits mention here that ditching of government universities in financial matters by the government has provided opportunity to a relatively low HEC ranking Qurtaba University of private sector to manipulate the merit for enrolment in BS, M Phil and PhD study programmes. These pertinent questions need answers in the light of basic fundamental rights as enshrined in the constitution of Pakistan.