All government schools in Islamabad will remain shut from Tuesday (today) as the Joint Action Committee of teachers has announced a boycott of classes and a protest movement after the federal government handed over the administrative control of the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) to the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) and the mayor through an ordinance.
On Monday, the Joint Action Committee issued a circular, asking parents not to send their children to schools, as it (the circular) said that the teachers will boycott classes against the new ordinanace, which, they feared could affect, among other things, their service structure. The Joint Action Committee said that educational institutions could be privatised after the federal government put the FDE under the administrative control of the local government.
The federal government has put the FDE under the administrative control of the Islamabad mayor under a new ordinance issued regarding the Amendment in Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Act 2015.
A day after the FDE was put under the administrative control of the Islamabad major, the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training transferred the administrative control of 33 colleges — previously run by the FDE — to the Federal College Education.
The Joint Action Committee has decided to close all government educational institutions from Tuesday in protest and teaching and non-teaching staff will hold protest in their respective institutions.
Joint Action Committee Chairman Fazal Mola told the media that there would be no teaching in any government educational institution from Tuesday. Classes will be boycotted entirely. Children will not be taught, teachers and non-teaching staff will protest in institutions.
He further said that the government has put all educational institutions under the subordination of the mayor of the local body through the ordinance.
He said that they feared that their status as a civil servant will be done away with and educational institutions could be privatised.
He further said that this move would cause severe damage to the entire education system as he feared political interference in educational institutions.
The Joint Action Committee has also announced to launch a protest movement from Tuesday. As part of the protest, a sit-in has been announced after a rally to be taken out from the National Press Club to Parliament House on December 2.
The Joint Action Committee said that the protest will continue until the ordinance was fully withdrawn.
Fazal Mulla, Malik Amir Khan and other teachers’ representatives stated that they reject the ordinance. They said that under a peaceful protest from Tuesday, all teaching and non-teaching employees will boycott duties (including election and federal board duty) as well as classes.
A protest rally will be taken out on Thursday from the National Press Club to the Parliament House, where a sit-in will be staged.
The teachers’ representatives and other stakeholders agreed to run a movement full vigour till the withdrawal of the ordinance.
Shafqat Mahmood dismisses fears
Meanwhile, Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood has said that the devolution of educational institutions to local government would not affect teachers' employment status, privileges and rights and they would be protected.
Talking to the media here on Monday, Mahmood said that all over the world, primary and secondary education was provided by local governments and we want to emulate it here as well.
He said that it would not affect the credibility of schools and the employment, privileges and rights of teachers would be protected.
Meanwhile, an official spokesperson for the education ministry said that the federal government has recently promulgated local government ordinance and devolved education to the level secondary education.
He said that representatives of teachers’ associations visited the ministry and met with the officials and expressed their concerns over the ordinance.
The spokesperson said that these representatives expressed concerns that the devolution was likely to impact their service structure, job security, service benefits and related perks. They were also apprehensive of losing the housing facility as the local government may not be able to protect their potential financial privileges.
They were also fearful of political interference due to devolution, the spokesperson said adding that the ministry assured them that the ordinance has been recently enacted and there was a considerable transition period to implement the plan.
He said that the education ministry assured them that all their existing service structures and benefits will remain protected.
They were assured of the ministry's full assistance during the transition period to ensure that the matters are resolved amicably in a manner that it did not adversely impact their service structure.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th, 2021.
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