ISLAMABAD: The federal government is going to face an educational crisis as teachers in Islamabad have decided to suspend academic activities in schools from Tuesday (today) for an indefinite period against the proposed placement of public sector schools under the yet-to-be formed local government.
The federal government recently promulgated an ordinance under which the local government will be responsible for management of primary, elementary and secondary schools. Moreover, the director general of the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) will be reporting to the mayor of Islamabad. The ordinance also said the head of the FDE shall be appointed with the consent of the mayor.
Until last week, the FDE regulate all the 423 schools and colleges in Islamabad. However, two days before the approval of the ordinance the ministry of education issued a notification placing all the 33 colleges under the administrative control of the Federal College of Education H-9, which is a subordinate organisation of the ministry.
The notification said the 33 colleges will remain part of the education ministry but the 390 schools could be devolved to the local government under the ordinance.
Schoolteachers and other staff protested the move, terming it an anti-education step. They formed an action committee, headed by a school principal Fazal-i-Mola, which decided that from Tuesday there will be no educational activities.
Move to hand over management of elementary, secondary schools to local govt is anti-education, representatives say
School Teachers’ Association President Malik Ameer told Dawn that from Tuesday all schools will observe strike and no academic activity will take place. He said teachers will also take to the streets against the decision.
“We are employees of the federal government and don’t want to serve in a corporation. After devolution of education to provinces under the 18th amendment, the federal education ministry was formed to look after affairs of colleges and schools in Islamabad. So we should remain under the ministry,” he said
Ameer added that the ministry had placed the 33 colleges under the Education College. Many of the colleges also have schools but they have been shifted to the Education College to keep them part of the education ministry.
“This is a sheer discrimination against other schools,” he said.
About the government assurance that their job status of federal government servants will not be changed, he said: “The ordinance is very clear and states that the mayor will be the administrative head of secondary schools.” If the government wants to resolve the issue it should make an amendment to the ordinance.
He said the performance of the last local government, which completed its five-year term in February, was unsatisfactory and the mayor, deputy mayors and chairmen of union councils and other representatives despite their best efforts could not get even their own honorarium and offices.
“So how can they ensure our salaries and other perks,” he added.
Meanwhile, a delegation of Federal Government College Teachers Association headed by its president Dr Rahima Rehman, who hailed the education ministry’s decision to place the colleges under the Education College H-9, held a meeting with the additional secretary of education and other officers.
Following the meeting, the ministry issued a press release stating that the representatives of teacher associations met the officials regarding their concerns after the promulgation of the ordinance.
The representatives expressed their concerns against devolution of the education department as this is likely to impact their service structure, including security of service.
They said it is also likely to impact adversely various service benefits and related perks. They were also apprehensive of loss of loan and housing facilities as the local government may not be able to protect their potential financial privileges.
They were also fearful of political interference in the affairs of the institutions.
The ministry addressed their concerns by assuring them that the ordinance has been recently enacted and there was a considerable transition period to implement the plan. They were assured that all their existing service structures and benefits will remain protected. They were also assured of ministry’s full assistance during the transition period so that the matters are resolved amicably in a manner that it doesn’t adversely impact their service structures.
The ministry showed its commitment that the main stakeholders, including teaching staff and other employees, will be kept engaged in all matters relating to their service conditions during the transition.
Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2021