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FDE teachers massive protest

Teachers vow to continue strike till acceptance of demands
Islamabad, Feb 22: Hundreds of teachers, working under the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE), staged a protest rally here on Monday to press the concerned authorities to issue a notification regarding their unconditional upgradation and uniformity in the education system.

The rally started at Sector F-6 and culminated at the Parade Avenue where the participants raised slogans for acceptance of their demands. The teachers were holding banners and placards inscribed with slogans regarding ending discrimination and disparity in education system.

The protesting teachers on the occasion pledged to continue their strike till the issuance of a notification regarding Uniformity of Education System in ICT, so that it could be implemented in letter and spirit as announced by Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani. The notification relates to upgradation of teachers, residential ceiling with pay to all employees under FDE Islamabad and immediate issuance of supplementary grant for hiring, immediate provision of transport facility to remote areas/federal area, immediate regularisation of all sacked teachers, contractual teachers, teachers on deputation, computer teachers and English teachers, hardship allowance to all FDE employees working at hard stations.

Addressing on the occasion Federal Government Teachers' Association (FGTA) President Azhar Mahmood Khan Awan said that teachers would only resume their duties if their demands were met immediately. "We don't want any 'lollipop' this time. The government should take this issue seriously and issue notification regarding our upgradation so that we could resume our duties without wasting precious time of students," he said.

He said that the 7,000 teachers of FDE through this peaceful rally wanted to make it clear that they would continue their struggle till the issuance of the notification. "If government would not listen to our demands then we would change our strategy," he added.

FGTA former general secretary Sher Ali Rind on the occasion said that the notification issued on Friday was nothing more than eyewash. "It was a conditional upgradation in which qualification was set as a condition. How come a teacher who is serving for 20 years can improve his or her qualification when he is on verge of retirement," he said.

He said that more than 0.25 million students were being affected by this strike. What else could be more discriminatory that 400 federal government education institutions were receiving 40 million as their annual budget in contrast with 20 model schools and colleges that were receiving equal amount?

The teachers working in Federal Government Polytechnic Institute for Woman also participated in the rally. They claimed that they had been working in the institution for more than 20 years but didn't get any upgradation.

"I have been working in grade-17 since I joined this institute 27 years ago," said a teacher Mrs Tanveer. She said that they have been visiting the Ministry of Education but all their efforts have proved futile. "Some of the officials of the ministry even secretary don't even like to meet us," she added.

Agha Ali, a grade-17 computer lecturer, told this scribe that they have not received their salaries for last eight months. "We were contract employees but PM has ordered our regularisation. Ever since our regularisation has been announced, we have not been paid our salaries," he said.

He said that there were 200 plus computer teachers who were suffering at the moment. "Those who are among victims include laboratory attendants, lecturers, lab administrators and teachers," he informed.

A teacher, Ms Saira, on the occasion termed the unification process unfair. She informed that the directorate has decided to vacate 10 federal government schools in order to accommodate evening shifts of model schools. "Is it sane to put the future of hundreds of students and teachers at stake? Why don't they build new infrastructure to accommodate the evening shift," she added.

Another teacher, Fareeda Yasmeen, said that unification of education system should mean equal distribution of resources, uniform admission policy and uniform fee structure. "Model education institution are getting more budget than federal government education institutions but they are still receiving Rs200 fee per month in contrast with federal government education institution that are getting Rs30 as fee," she said. The teachers vowed to continue their strike until their demands are fulfilled. The news

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Parents, students nervous
Islamabad: The strike by almost 7,000 teachers of the federal government schools is threatening to disrupt the annual examinations' schedule, making parents and students edgy.

The annual exams for the one to fourth and sixth to eighth classes are scheduled to be held next month. Similarly, the matriculation exams will be held in April. But with the strike continuing, the students of federal government schools are not attending classes " just days before the annual exams.

Scheduled to start on February 19, the board's primary exams had already been delayed because of the strike.

"February and March are months of exams but my two kids are sitting at home," Fareeha Ahmed said on Monday. She said her neighbour's daughter is appearing in the fifth grade exams as she is studying in an Islamabad model school. "I am very disturbed and worried."

The Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) has been running a three-tier education system with different service structures. The teachers of federal government schools demanding a uniform service structure went on strike early this month. Though the government announced an upgradation plan for the teaching staff of FG schools, they turned it down on February 20.

"I was asked by teachers to stay away from school and spend time with friends," said Ahad Ali, 15, a student of 7th grade in FG (Model) School for Boys in G-8/4, also known as T&T School. "I told my mother and she asked me to take private classes to prepare for the exams in March," Ali said.

The situation was no different at federal government schools for girls.

"The banner outside my daughter's school says there will be no classes and we are not responsible for students. So I asked her to stay at home," Farhan Ahmed said . "February is crucial for preparing for final exams. This is the month when teachers make students work hard." He said his daughter and hundreds of other students were sitting idle at home. "This uncertainty adversely affects students' progress." Dawn

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Teachers-government talks hit a snag, says FGTA president
Islamabad: FGTA president Azhar Mehmood Awan said that their negotiations with Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) officials hit a snag. He said FDE chief had been trying to find out an all-acceptable solution to issues related to teachers' upgradation package. "We had a meeting with FDE DG Shaheen Khan and Additional Secretary Education Shaigan Malik but no breakthrough occurred," he said, adding that they would hold another round of talks today (Tuesday).

Awan said the Ministry of Education (MoE) and FDE were trying to buy some time and their behaviour showed that high officials were least concerned about problems of teachers waiting for promotions since long. "They first promised us that teachers would be upgraded on July 27, 2010. Then we came to know that the prime minister would announce teachers' package on October 10, 2010, but it was also postponed at the eleventh hour. Finally, the package was announced on November 8, 2010, but so far it has not been implemented," he said. A member of FGTA said the Finance Division was not ready to accept six-point agenda of the teachers. He said Finance Division had some reservations over promotion of those teachers, who according to it lack required experience and qualifications. But the teachers' body have stuck to their stance that there should be no discrimination in promotion process because all the teachers have been waiting for their promotions for decades. Daily times

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38% of govt high schools for boys have no libraries
Islamabad: As many as 38% government boys' high schools do not have a library, 40% lack playgrounds and 42% do not have security guards, said a report compiled by FAFEN's monitoring of state-run boys high schools across the country during January 2011.

The report said the government needs to resolve infrastructure issues and ensure the availability of key facilities in order to improve standards of secondary education in the country. FAFEN governance monitors visited 50 government boys high schools in 41 districts of the country. Twenty two schools were visited in 19 districts of Punjab, 14 in 11 districts of KP, 12 in nine districts of Sindh and one each in a district of ICT and Balochistan.

It said 38% of the monitored schools did not have a library including 58% of those monitored in Sindh, 36% in Punjab, 21% in KP and the one school monitored in Balochistan. For high school students the availability of a library is a must as it not only stimulates independent reading and aids in research but also exposes the students to material other than textbooks.

The report stated little attention is paid to sports and physical activities at boys high schools as 40% were observed to be without playgrounds - 58% in Sindh, 43% in KP, 27% in Punjab and the one school monitored in ICT. Twenty six percent of the country's monitored schools also lacked a serving Physical Training Instructor (PTI).

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Lives of 200 students at stake
Rawalpindi: The three-storey building of the Government Shimla Islamia Boys High School at Namak Mandi is gradually crumbling. The roofs of 15 classrooms out of 20 had collapsed in ten years. The school, located in the heart of the city, has more than 200 students, whose lives are in danger due dilapidated condition of the building.

Principal Muhammad Ishfaq said that the school building could collapse anytime. He said that previously more than 1,000 students were enrolled in the school, but now there were only 200 students. The majority of parents have stopped sending their children to this school and got enrolled them in other academic institutions as they fear that its building would collapse anytime, he added.

He said that the school had three-storey building having 20 classrooms and a large hall. But now only five classrooms have left, as roofs of 15 rooms had collapsed, he said. He said that the remaining five classrooms were also in a dilapidated condition.

When contacted Executive District Officer (EDO) (Education) Qazi Zahoor-ul-Hassan, he admitted that the school building was in a dilapidated condition. He said: "We will start repair work of the school building soon on priority". He added that they had written to the higher authorities about the dilapidated condition of the school on which the Punjab government had ordered its repair on priority basis.

A senior official of the school, on condition of anonymity, said that they had informed the concerned authorities time and again about the poor condition of the school building, but no action has been taken so far.

He said that five students of class 7 had sustained serious injuries when the roof of their classroom collapsed in 2009. On the other hand, parents have appealed to Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif to take action, as the lives of their children were at stake.

Muhammad Idrees, the father of a student, said that he has decided to shift his son to another school as he feared that the remaining building could collapse anytime. "There are roofless toilets and science laboratory and the condition of remaining five classrooms is dilapidated," he said.

Sajid Mehmood, a student of class 9, said that the remaining five classrooms could collapse anytime because there were cracks in their walls. The classrooms get filled with water whenever it rains, he said. "I don't want to study in this school but my father cannot afford sending me to another academic institution," he said.

According to information collected, the Government Shimla Islamia Boys High School was established in 1957. In 2002, there were 1,019 students in the school. However now there are only 200 students because the majority of them have left the school due to dilapidated condition of its building. The news

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