School management committees: NA panel approves toothless bill

Published: July 17, 2017
Fouzia Hameed, MQM.


ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary committee has approved a proposed bill which would allow school management committees to hold regular elections, but it has refused to endorse clauses which would grant them oversight for schools.

The Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat, in its last meeting, unanimously passed “The Right to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, 2017”.

The bill had been moved by Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) MNA Dr Fouzia Hameed as a private member bill, seeking additional powers for the SMCs.

The proposed legislation aimed to amend the law allowing the committee, formerly known as parent-teacher associations, to hold regular elections. It had also suggested granting the SMCs with greater powers which would ensure transparency and merit in admissions into the schools of the capital.

But the Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat only approved part of the amendments which dealt with elections for the SMCs. Per the amendment, the elections would be held every two years at the start of the academic year. But a proposal to grant the committees greater oversight of admissions failed to secure the approval of lawmakers.

Responding to the proposed amendments to the law, the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) stated that “admission policy formulated by Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) already serves the purpose to ensure transparency and fairness in the admissions process. Those aggrieved by the denial of admissions have forums such as FDE and CADD for redressal of their complaints”.

“The bureaucracy was reluctant to give any powers to the committees,” lamented Dr Hameed.

She added that members of the committee were also indecisive over how much powers should the SMCs have, she added.

“It is like a vehicle without an engine. What is the purpose of the committees if they have no powers to do anything?” she asked

The mover of the bill said that she will raise her voice over the amendments when the approved bill is debated on the floor of the lower house. If her arguments on including oversight powers for SMCs in the bill go unheard, Dr Hameed said she will try to push another amendment.

The SMCs have not been actively functioning in the federal capital, nor do they receive any funds, unlike the committees in the provinces. However, the committees can accept donations from philanthropists to spend on the welfare of schools.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2017.

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