ISLAMABAD: Education crisis in the capital seems to be deepening as the protesting teaching and non-teaching staff of 390 schools are set to take to the streets from Thursday (today) against the proposed placement of schools under the yet-to-be formed local government.

On the other hand, around 200,000 students, who have already faced considerable loss during earlier closure of schools due to the Covid-19 pandemic, are suffering as a result of the strike.

The teachers will stage a protest outside the National Press Club before moving towards the Parliament House. The schools’ principals on Wednesday also allowed their staff to use school buses to reach the protest venue.

Representatives of the teachers’ community said that the federal government through Local Government Ordinance, 2021 had decided to place all schools under the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) after the local government elections, adding that they would not work under the corporation.

Boycott of classes will continue till govt withdraws decision of placing 390 schools under MCI, teachers’ body representative says

Boycott of classes will continue until the government withdraws the Ordinance, they said, adding that they would give the government a few days to reverse the decision and if it did not, they would stage a sit-in next week for an indefinite period.

The local government elections are likely to be held in March-April in Islamabad and the elected mayor will assume charge of reporting officer of the director general of Federal Directorate of Education (FDE), which is the regulatory body of 390 schools of Islamabad.

Until, Nov 22, the FDE was supposed to regulate 423 schools and colleges however, the Ministry of Education through a notification placed 33 colleges under Education College to keep them a part of the ministry.

Chairman of the Action Committee Fazal Mola and Vice Chairman Malik Ameer Khan said until the government withdrew the said ordinance, schools would remain closed.

They said that the local government had nothing to do with education and the education sector should remain part of the education ministry, adding that the local government could not handle the huge manpower and budgetary requirement of FDE-run schools as every year, the federal government spends billions of rupees on development and non development expenditure.

“In its last tenure, we saw that the mayor was unable to pay salaries to sanitation staff, so how is it that the new mayor will ensure smooth funding for the education sector? This is something unacceptable; why is the government disturbing the education sector? The prime minister should look into this issue,” said president of School Teachers Association Malik Ameer Khan.

He said the local government has no capacity to deal with the education sector, adding, “We will not allow the government to do experiments with the education sector, which has been running smoothly”.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2021

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