The dark side of the new law on local authorities | Shehr
JJanuary 3 marks the start of the winter break for schools in Islamabad. However, classes may not resume at the end of the vacation on January 9.
The federal government’s Joint Action Committee on Education has announced a full class boycott when schools resume teaching in protest against the Islamabad Local Government Ordinance 2021.
The committee made the announcement at an emergency press conference on December 30. Fazl-i-Mula, Malik Ameer Khan and AftabHussain were among the speakers at the press conference.
There are more than 400 public schools in the federal capital, employing more than 15,000 teachers and other staff, all in arms against the ordinance.
The Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) is the supreme body dealing with these schools and employees.
The boycott of school employees follows a lockdown ultimatum issued by the union of the Capital Development Authority (CDA), another large employer with nearly 15,000 employees.
The employees of the CDA and the FDE have a common cause. Both see the new law as a blow to their service structure and job security.
Ali Nawaz Awan, advisor to the prime minister on CDA affairs, has had a busy schedule, between appeasing protesters and making promises that are not yet kept.
Before assessing the unrest that awaits the federal capital, it is important to know the context of the ordinance.
Since its inception in 1960, Islamabad has never had a system of local government. Finally, in 2015, the law on local administration was submitted to parliament to ensure compliance with court decisions in this regard.
The then ruling Pakistan-Nawaz Muslim League brought Sheikh Ansar to Islamabad and he was elected the city’s first mayor. The mayor has been accused of corruption and generally mired in controversy until he was removed from his post by the federal cabinet. The National Accountability Bureau and other institutions have investigated the allegations against him.
By law, CDA’s service delivery bodies responsible for water supply and sanitation were placed under the aegis of the Metropolitan Corporation of Islamabad (MCI). However, the MCI did not fulfill its responsibilities and the salaries of its employees remained unpaid. These departments were then referred to CDA.
In the absence of the mayor, the deputy commissioner of Islamabad was appointed administrator of the MCI for six months with the approval of the federal cabinet. The mandate ended at the beginning of this year. Elections are now expected under the new local government law.
The Joint Action Committee said their protest will continue until section 166 of the ordinance is repealed. This clause places educational establishments under the supervision of the municipality of Islamabad. They say it will have a negative impact on the quality of education.
Employees of the FDE and CDA fear a recurrence of the nightmare.
“As for the employees of the FDE, unlike the employees of the CDA, they have no objection to being subject to the mayor’s control. Their main concern is with clauses in the ordinance that compromise their job security as federal government employees. This can lead to the privatization of educational institutions, ”said Faisal Kaleem, senior education reporter. Sunday news.
The Joint Action Committee says their protest will continue until section 166 of the ordinance is repealed. The clause places educational institutions under the MCI, which teachers believe will have a negative impact on the quality of education.
Asked about the loss students will have to endure as a result of this strike, JAC chief Ameer Khan said their struggle is aimed at saving students from greater loss.
The committee says Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood promised to protect their jobs, but he broke his word.
This is not the first time that schools will be closed due to protests against the ordinance. FDE employees continued to protest. Their campaign gained momentum when they made a meaningful show of power near Parliament on Constitution Avenue in the first week of December.
They had gathered outside the National Press Club (NPC) before attempting to march towards D-Chowk. The Islamabad police tried to stop them but they managed to reach Constitution Avenue where Fazl-i-Mula announced that they would close the schools.
PML-N pillar Tariq Fazl Chaudhry, Sibtul Hassan Bukhari from PPP and MianAslam from JI visited them and expressed their solidarity with the protesting teachers.
Some promises were made and the demonstration was broken. Deploring the “empty” promises, the committee has now called for a boycott of schools after the winter break. He also thanked parliamentary committees and politicians for supporting his cause.
Teachers say that since the mayor’s office is political, a federal government could be tempted to victimize an elected mayor from a rival party by denying him funding and cooperation and thus jeopardizing teachers’ jobs and the process of being elected. education. Committee members said government officials showed them a draft amendment to the ordinance addressing the concerns. It was after receiving these assurances that the teachers resumed their duties while still wearing black armbands in protest. Frustrated with the government’s handling of the situation, they say, they were again forced to strike.
CDA employees say the reason for the protest lockdown includes the alleged incompetence and corruption of an elected mayor.
Sharafat Ali, a member of the Child Protection Advisory Council and the Anti-Rape Committee, says running government affairs through ordinances is undemocratic. He says the government has been unable to design a sustainable system of local governance in Islamabad, KP and Punjab. “I was part of the legal team when the local government was established in Islamabad in 2015. After it was established, no one knew what to do with it. The current situation is more confused than ever. It is unfair to subject 15,000 government workers to a system that is unclear and unsustainable, ”he said.
He says that once the government sets up a system of local government in Islamabad in a lucid manner, it can put the schools under the mayor’s supervision along with all stakeholders.
“If you put schools under local government control, what will you do when the local government ordinance expires? Legislation by ordinance is unthinkable under normal circumstances, ”he said.
Once the mayor is gone, PAS agents take over from MCI, amounting to an invasion of career bureaucrats in all walks of life. Teaching is a skilled trade. It should not be taken lightly.
The writer teaches development support communication to Islamic International University of Islamabad. Twitter: @HassanShehzadZ Email: Hassan.shehzad @ iiui.edu.pk