(Clockwise from top) Traders raise slogans during a protest on Khayaban-i-Suhrawardi on Tuesday against FBR’s move to install devices at the point of sale, giving it police powers and their forceful registration for sales tax; government employees stage a sit-in on Constitution Avenue against non-implementation of an agreement between the government and All Government Employees Grand Alliance; relatives of people detained in China hold banners as they demonstrate outside the Parliament House for their release while school workers hang a panaflex on the gate of IMSG, F-6/1, in protest against proposed placement of public schools under the control of the city’s mayor. — Photos by Mohammad Asim
(Clockwise from top) Traders raise slogans during a protest on Khayaban-i-Suhrawardi on Tuesday against FBR’s move to install devices at the point of sale, giving it police powers and their forceful registration for sales tax; government employees stage a sit-in on Constitution Avenue against non-implementation of an agreement between the government and All Government Employees Grand Alliance; relatives of people detained in China hold banners as they demonstrate outside the Parliament House for their release while school workers hang a panaflex on the gate of IMSG, F-6/1, in protest against proposed placement of public schools under the control of the city’s mayor. — Photos by Mohammad Asim

ISLAMABAD: Talks between the protesting teachers and the federal government failed on Tuesday, prompting the former to announce that all schools would remain closed until the government issued an amended Local Government Ordinance to separate the education sector from the local government.

All 390 schools in the federal capital remained closed, affecting around 200,000 students.

The teachers went on strike against the Local Government Ordinance 2021 under which the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) - the regulatory body of schools - would report to the yet-to-be elected mayor of Islamabad.

Students did not show up in schools on Tuesday morning as they had already been informed about the strike. However, some students who were unaware of the protest reached their institutions and were sent back.

Representative says strike not to be called off until ordinance amended to withdraw placement of schools under mayor

The protesters said after devolving the FDE to the local government, the teachers and other employees would be deprived of many benefits, which they were currently availing because of their status as federal government employees.

A delegation of the protesting teachers headed by their action committee chairman Fazal-i-Mola held separate meetings with Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) Ali Nawaz Awan and Education Secretary Naheed Durrani.

Sources said during the meeting, the special assistant asked the teachers to end their protest as their rights were protected and after being placed under the local government they would remain employees of the federal government.

However, the teachers said until an amendment was made to the ordinance, they would not call off their strike.

“We don’t want to be devolved to the corporation. In the presence of the education ministry, there is no justification for placing the FDE and schools under the local government whose future was still uncertain,” said School Teachers Association President Malik Ameer Khan.

He said during the meeting, the SAPM told teachers that when the FDE would be placed under the administrative control of the mayor, there would be no change in the service structure of the employees working in schools.

“But we are not going to accept this. The ordinance is very clear and states that the local government will manage the primary, elementary and secondary education for all purposes,” Mr Khan said.

“We are very open. The local government through school management committees should keep a check on the performance of schools. The elected mayor should be made part of the education ministry’s selection board for appointing the DG but placing schools under the local government is not acceptable and our protest will continue until an amendment is made to the ordinance,” he said.

Meanwhile, the teachers also held a meeting with the federal education secretary.

They said just two days before the promulgation of the ordinance the ministry, through a notification, placed 33 colleges under the Education College-H-9 to keep them under the administrative control of the ministry.

However, the teachers said the ministry did not consider the concerns of the 390 schools.

The teachers told the secretary that there were also school sections in many of the 33 colleges but the education ministry kept them under the administrative control of the colleges.

The delegation demanded the education secretary to withdraw the notification.

Sources said during the meeting the secretary and other officers of the ministry tried to convince the teachers to call off their strike but to no avail.

The local government elections are expected to be held in March-April next year as currently delimitation of constituencies/wards is continuing.

Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2021

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