Schools reopen today in Islamabad after ministry assures teachers to address their concerns

Published December 9, 2021
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) Ali Nawaz Awan addresses a press conference in Islamabad on Wednesday. — PID
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) Ali Nawaz Awan addresses a press conference in Islamabad on Wednesday. — PID

ISLAMABAD: Schools in the capital will reopen from Thursday (today) after teachers and non-teaching staff were assured by the Ministry of Education that their concerns regarding the Local Government Ordinance will be removed.

The teaching and non-teaching staff of all schools had boycotted classes since last Tuesday as they protested against the Local Government Ordinance 2021, which states that Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) — the regulatory body of schools and colleges — will be placed under control of the mayor.

Besides protesting against the said ordinance, teachers were also criticising the Ministry of Education for its move of separating 33 colleges from the FDE, apparently, to avoid their devolution to the local government.

The ministry on Wednesday withdrew the said notification and also assured protesters that it will take up their concerns with the federal government.

Notification on proposed placement of schools under mayor withdrawn, matter to be taken up with federal govt

Secretary (Education) Naheed Durrani and Additional Secretary Mohaiyyuddin Ahmed Wani played the main role in convincing teachers to call off their strike as over 200,000 students, who have already faced huge educational loss during the Covid-19 pandemic, have been suffering since last Tuesday.

“Yes, we have decided to call off our strike and schools will be reopened from Thursday. We are thankful to Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood and other officers of education ministry for listening to our voices. We have two demands: removal of section 166 from Local Government Ordinance and withdrawal of the notification of separating 33 colleges from FDE. One of our demands has been accepted through notification, while we were assured that the ministry will take up our case with the federal government,” said president of School Teachers Association Malik Ameer Khan.

He said if the section was not removed from the ordinance, teachers will go on strike again, adding, after holding meetings with all employees of schools we will set a deadline for the government to remove section 166 from the ordinance.

The teachers’ strike was also discussed in the National Assembly Standing Committee on Education, which met here with MNA Mian Najeebuddin Awaisi in the chair.

The committee unanimously asked teachers to call off their strike.

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) Ali Nawaz Awan while addressing a press conference said all rights of teaching and non-teaching staff are protected.

However, he said the elected mayor, a representative of over 2 million people will have the right to playing a guiding role in the education sector.

Teachers’ concerns will be addressed but there is no need to keep schools closed, he added.

Earlier, the Senate Standing Committee on Education had also urged teachers to call off their strike.

Meanwhile, a press release issued by the education ministry stated: “The ministry officials on behalf and direction of the minister assured the representatives of the association that the government is fully aware of their reservations and will ensure that all their service matters will be dealt by the federal government through ministry of education under civil servants act and no measure will be taken to alter their terms and conditions of service to their disadvantage”.

The time of students is of immense importance which is why schools will be opened on Dec 9.

The joint action committee and the ministry will continue to raise this issue at every forum without further disrupting educational activities and both parties agreed to remain engaged in the interest of students, the press release said.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2021

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