All heads of govt education institutes ordered to keep their mobile phones on 24/7 for elections

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KARACHI: The Sindh education ministry has asked all senior officials heading schools and colleges to be available on phone round-the-clock until the process of the general elections is over, it emerged on Wednesday.
Officials in the provincial education ministry said the district education officers had written to all principals, head teachers and in-charge head teachers warning them to be available all the time until the July 25 general elections were over.
The letters were issued by the officials concerned after they had received reports that a number of individuals heading public-sector educational institutions were not found available when they had been contacted to perform their election duty.
The election work included assigning training duties, posting of staff for election duty and other arrangement, etc, said the officials.
“It is observed that some officers or officials could not (be) contacted in time because their cell phones were turned off,” said the letter issued by the district education officer of Karachi Central on Tuesday.
“This practice (has) not only [put] this office in difficulties but also caused inconvenience to other relating departments.
“(Non-availability of heads of educational institutions has) put this office in awkward position too,” said the letter issued here.
The officials in the ministry said such letters had been issued by various districts across Sindh as such practice of turning cell phones off by head teachers was common and prevalent.
They said all in-charges of educational institutions had been strictly directed not to keep their cell phones off “at any cost” till the election work was over.
“The same instructions may also be communicated amongst their subordinates like teaching and non-teaching staff who have been directed to obey the same positively,” said a senior official.
The letter warns: “In case cell phone of any officer or official is found turned off, it shall be treated as an offence and an effort to create hurdles in smooth functioning of election”.
However, the letter issued by the education ministry did not elaborate the nature of the departmental action, which could be taken against the head teachers and their subordinates who were found absent from their election duties. It only warns that there would be certain punishment that would be given to those officials.
“As you all know that as per Election Act 2017’s Section 55 (new edition) if any officer or official is found guilty in terms of showing negligence to his or her work shall be punished.”
The officials said a majority of officials who were accorded election duty had historically been picked up from the education ministry and their non-availability for any reason could be detrimental to the entire election process.
“We cannot afford to let any of thousands of our staff keep absent from the process for any reason. Every day is crucial for smooth conclusion of the coming elections,” said a senior official in the provincial government.

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