Academic activities in Islamabad’s public schools remain halted due to a failure to reach an agreement on the Local Government Ordinance, 2021 between the teachers’ union and the federal government. The teaching and non-teaching staff are said to have donated more than Rs. 1 million to turn their strike into a movement and challenge the ordinance in court.
The schools reopened on Monday following the winter break, but classes have yet to resume due to the Federal Government Education Joint Action Committee’s ongoing strike (FGEJAC).
The association has warned that the protest will continue until the government repeals Section 166 of the ordinance, which places the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) schools under the control of Islamabad’s soon-to-be-elected mayor. The decision to keep the strike going was made during a general body meeting of school heads at G-7/2 Model School for Boys.
Meanwhile, students who have already suffered significant academic losses as a result of the pandemic continue to suffer, and no classes have been held since December 1, 2021.
The teachers claim that the government is adamant about putting public schools under local control, and they are concerned that the new ordinance will change employees’ statuses and pave the way for the institutions to be privatised.
According to a spokesperson for the association, “nearly Rs. 20 billion is required annually to run the schools and colleges under the FDE, and the local government would have no capacity to handle the institutions’ affairs.”
Ali Nawaz Awan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM), confirmed that teachers will have complete job security and will remain under the Ministry of Education.
“The education ministry would continue to bear development and non-development expenditures, as well as regulate the FDE and its educational institutions,” he said, adding that there is nothing to worry about because the local government mayor will only oversee the system.
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The teachers, on the other hand, pointed out that the ordinance clearly states that the FDE head will be appointed after consultation with the mayor and will report directly to the local government. They believe that if the government is serious about resolving the crisis, rather than misinterpreting Section 166, it should repeal it entirely.