ISLAMABAD: The Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) has notified the formation of an anti-harassment and anti-bullying committee for each Islamabad-based educational institution to prevent and counteract any form of harassment, bullying and physical abuse.
According to a notification issued on Aug 25 by FDE Director General Zia Batool, the head of each institution will be the convener of the committee while the deputy head and the area education officer will be its members.
The committee is supposed to ensure the adoption and implementation of prevention and response strategies while broadening its scope to transforming trends, including cyber harassment, bullying or abuse to and from students.
Explaining the prevention strategy, the notification stated that the committee will conduct staff orientation and training on the code of harassment, sexual misconduct and bullying and abuse.
Head of institution to be convener, deputy head and area education officer to be members of committee, says FDE notification
The committee will also inculcate understanding of different forms of harassment or bullying among the students and teachers. It will create on campus awareness and sensitisation of students and teachers on the gender neutral and inclusive reporting mechanism for issues related to harassment, sexual misconduct, bullying or abuse through information, dissemination and other appropriate means.
“The committee will also take practical steps for creation of an enabling learning environment for all students, especially for minority communities, by promotion of interfaith harmony,” the notification said.
The mandate of the committee will also be to ensure mental comfort and physical safety of students, including covering unsupervised spaces by installing 24/7 cameras (inside and outside of campus premises), covering blind spots and the restriction of unnecessary movement in laboratories, libraries and private spaces such as toilets.
Under this strategy, a five-member reporting council would be formed at each institution with the deputy head of the institution as its patron and three most senior faculty members to be nominated by the head of the institute as members.
The council would be required to develop liaison with class representatives and prefects and monitors at each level.
It would encourage students through liaison for reporting of any harassment and bullying-related incidents.
The committee is responsible for convening its meeting within five days of reporting of any case by the reporting council and after a probe it may recommend disciplinary action, including imposition of a fine, expulsion in case of a student, suspension and termination of services in case of an employee or any other provision as per the law.
The committee is supposed to refer its probe report to the FDE director general for further action.
Under the FDE, there are 423 educational institutions with over 200,000 students and over 10,000 teachers in the capital. Sources said in the absence of any mechanism and especially because of lack of awareness, teachers and students in most of the cases opt not to raise their voice against harassment.
“We are hopeful now teachers and students in case of any harassment will raise their voice and we will provide them full safety and justice,” said a senior officer of the education ministry. He said the committee was formed on the direction of Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood.
Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2020