ISLAMABAD: Unpaid for over five months, daily-wage teachers in the federal capital have decided to go on a strike from December 1 unless the government pays them their dues.
This was threatened by the daily wage teaching and non-teaching staff of the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) on Sunday.
Teaching and non-teaching staff of the FDE have not been paid since July 2018, since the department did not include their pay in their budget. The Finance division appears disinterested in paying the teachers in what has become an annual game which ends in strikes and street protests by the daily-wage teachers.
Ahsan Sikandri, one of the unpaid daily-wage teachers, said that they have children of their own and that they cannot survive without salaries.
"We will not perform our duties during the mid-term exams which commence from the second week of December," warned Asma Safdar, a daily-wage teacher in the federal capital.
“We have informed our respective heads as well as concerned officials to arrange our salaries so that we can feed our families,” she pleaded.
Safdar further said that Finance Minister Asad Umer had given them multiple assurances of releasing their salaries, but in reality, it seems they were only political promises.
Advocate Umair Baloch said that the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has already given a decision in their favour with regards to their salaries with further direction to the government to regularise them. However, she said that the now-defunct Capital Administration and Development Division (CAAD) had filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the IHC’s orders.
He contended that the IHC directions are applicable unless the superior court suspends them or declares them as void. Hence, government officials who are ignoring the IHC’s orders to pay the daily-wage staffers are in contempt of court.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Federal Education Ministry said that Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood had directed in the first week of October 2018, to pay the salaries of all daily wagers in a couple of days.
“The minister had assured that they will regularise all the daily wagers in light of IHC’s directions and will withdraw the appeal in the SC. The education secretary was directed to do so, but I do not know why the orders have not been implemented yet,” he stated.
Additional charge of FDE principals withdrawn
In a bid to improve the administrative control of the chief educational administrative body in the federal capital, the government has decided to empower the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE).
Moreover, sources say Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood has decided that all those officers on deputation in the directorate will be repatriated to their parent departments. Further, officials of the department who had been given additional charges would be asked to pick just one job and do it efficiently.
It was suggested that because school and college principals had been given additional responsibilities as directors in the FDE, it had caused the administration of their respective educational institutions to suffer.
Sources say that a proposal drafted in this regards has been dispatched to the education secretary and has met with approval and a formal notification of the transfers is expected to be issued on Monday (today).
As per the proposal, three officers have agreed to give up their additional charges and return to being principals of schools and colleges.
In this regard, Dr Tariq Masood, who was holding the additional charge of FDE’s Admin Director will be going back to being the principal of the Islamabad Model College in Sector F-7/3.
Farhad Ali Shah will give up his additional post of Planning and Development Director and resume as the principal of the Islamabad Model College in Sector G-9/2.
Waheed Ahmed Khan will give up his Academic and Research Directorate post in FDE and resume as the full-time principal of the Islamabad Model School in Sector G-6/4.
However, Sadia Adnan has decided to buck the trend by leaving her post as principal and join the FDE as the Training Director. The move has been undertaken since there was no suitable candidate available for the post.
In their stead, FDE Estate Management Director Amber Sultana has been handed the additional charge of Planning and Development Director.
Apart from the training director, Adnan will also handle the additional responsibilities of the FDE’s Academic Research Director.
Monitoring Deputy Director Major (retd) Waheed Ahmed Khan has been given the additional charge of Admin Director since he has previously handled the post in the past.
FDE officials, while confirming the moves, said that a decision has yet to be taken on appointing a new head of the FDE. The FDE has been without a permanent head for a couple of years now. The temporary charge handed to Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (PEIRA) chief Hasnat Qureshi was withdrawn a few weeks ago and the FDE has been headless ever since.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 19th, 2018.
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