Senate Committee urges protesting teachers to call-off strike and begin negotiations
The Senate Standing Committee on Federal Education and Professional Training, in a meeting held on Tuesday at Parliament House urged protesting teachers of the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) to call off its strike. Chairman Committee Senator Irfan Siddiqui, who took up the matter in wake of its gravity urged representatives of the Federal Government Education Joint Action Committee (FGEJAC) to take into consideration the future of numerous students effected by this strike and resume duties. A Committee headed by Ms. Wajiha Akram, MNA Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Education was formulated to review the matter minutely and to submit its report within 15 days.
Those who attended the meeting included Senator Rukhsana Zuberi, Senator Dr. Mehr Taj Roghani, Senator Falak Naz, Senator Fawzia Arshad, Senator Ejaz Ahmed Chaudhary, Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmed, Senator Molvi Faiz Muhammad, and Senior officers of the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training, including Federal Secretary Education, ED Higher Education Commission and Parliamentary Secretary on Education Ms. Wajiha Akram.
Representatives of FGEJAC upraised the Committee that the issue had arisen in the wake of promulgation of the Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Ordinance-2021 which envisages placing Institutions currently under FDE beneath the Municipal Corporation of Islamabad (MCI). Members of the FGEJAC showed concerns regarding ambiguity in pay and promotion structures as well as revocation of their status of being Federal Government employees. They asserted that better policies are needed to promote education in the Country; which is not possible under an Administrative Unit. They also showed concerns regarding funding, which according to them, had always been an issue at the MCI; witnessed on numerous accounts in delayed projects. They added that this measure was a gross violation of the Civil Services Act. It was asserted that MCI was a dying cadre and being part of this, would kill all future prospects.
Chairman Committee, Senator Irfan Siddiqui remarked that apparently there was absolutely no urgency or emergency to promulgate an ordinance and create chaos. He further added that hundreds of ICT students, already enduring loss of study time due to COVID restrictions, continue to suffer due to the teacher strike that has entered its 9th day. Members of the Committee, despite being divided over the pros and cons of the matter agreed that a Committee must be formulated to review the matter in detail and address the issues of the stakeholders. The newly constituted Committee would include representatives from the Ministry Federal Education and Professional Training; the Senate of Pakistan and the FGEJAC.
Chairman Committee, Senator Irfan Siddiqui assured FDA employees of the Committee’s full support and said that it would do all in its power to ensure that no injustice is done. Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmed showed concern regarding the rising trend of surpassing the Parliament; and stated that this was the lowest form of legislation that must be limited to emergency situations during which the Parliament ceases to function. It was asserted that all stakeholders should have been made part of this decision and that the recommended 12 month transition period could have well been used to ensure Parliamentary processes. Senator Ejaz Ahmed Chaudhary, Senator Fawzia Arshad and Senator Mehr Taj Roghani opined that despite being a step in the positive direction; all out efforts must be made to address the teachers concerns. Senator Rukhsana Zuberi was of the view that this is negative measure which will seriously hit the ICT education system.
The Committee while discussing details of the Single National Curriculum stressed the need for clarity of concepts and ideas. The need to review textbook content and ensure removal of all typographical errors was emphasized. Inclusion of alternative institutions of learning such as Madrasahs was asserted. The Committee showed concerns regarding credentials of authors and their selection criteria. Chairman Committee, Senator Irfan Siddiqui was of the view that the matter must be discussed in more detail in the next meeting. It was recommended that Mr. Rafiq Tahir, who headed the team previously, be invited for more clarity.