Sixth graders wait for books a month into new academic year

Published: April 29, 2019


ISLAMABAD: Even though the new academic month started a month ago, some sixth-grade students at government schools in the federal capital still do not have the updated course books.

The news comes teaching and non-teaching daily-wage staff of the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) — which oversees government-run educational institutions in the federal capital — plan to go on strike this week over the government’s failure to regularise them.

Sources in the education set up of the federal capital say that students up to grade 10 — matriculation — in the schools and colleges operating under the FDE receive free course books in line with requirements of Article 25-A.

However, even after the new session began on April 1, the provision of textbooks to grade six students have been delayed. The lack of course books is creating difficulties for teachers and students alike in studying, the official said.

The official, who did not wish to be named for fear of retribution, added that there were concerns amongst teachers and the educational management of the city that the delay could ultimately push back the educational calendar of the particular class and that the course may be left incomplete.

“A month has already been wasted and the educational calendar may get affected,” said some teachers who did not wish to be identified.

Owing to delays in printing new books, education officials have decided to teach the old syllabus in grades seven and eight this year so that students in these classes can utilise old books. Officials say that they can switch to the new curriculum from the next academic year. This way, they suggest, they will have plenty of time to have the new curriculum approved, update the books accordingly and have them printed in time.

FDE Training and Examination Director Saadia Adnan said that they hope to send digital versions of books as per the new curriculum to the education ministry on Monday (today) for approval.

Meanwhile, the National Book Foundation (NBF) has assured to print and provide the requisite number of books within a week after securing approval from the ministry.

Staff strikes

The teaching and non-teaching daily-wage employees of FDE have announced to go on a strike from Tuesday after the government failed to implement orders from the apex court to regularise them.

The staffers said that the Supreme Court (SC) had in June 2018 directed the government to regularise them but the government has yet to implement the directive.

They added that as part of the strike, they will boycott all curricular and non-curricular activities in federal educational institutions.

In a statement issued by the Young Teachers Association (YTA) on Sunday, it was stated that the federal education ministry was directed by the SC to issue posting orders within three months. However, the ministry has continued to drag its feet despite the presence of a clear verdict.

The employees said that since they have not received any response to the related forums, they have decided to go on a strike.

They added that apart from the strike, they will stage a protest outside the national press club on April 30.

The YTA stated that they have invited lawmakers from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to join the protests because some of these party members — who are now in the parliament —had stood with them when they last staged a protest against the then Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government over non-payment of dues and lack of regularisation.

Meanwhile, sources in education ministry have suggested that while Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood wanted to regularise the FDE employees, however, he had been convinced by the bureaucracy and some high-ranking officials of the FDE against such a move.

The bureaucracy, they said, had also raised objections over the regularization of more than a 100,000 employees as suggested by a cabinet committee on the matter led by former federal minister Khursheed Shah. No codal formalities for those regularisations were ever fulfilled and the process was termed as “past and closed”.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 29th, 2019.

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