Strike: Angry teachers boycott schools in Islamabad

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Strike: Angry teachers boycott schools in Islamabad
ISLAMABAD: About 7,000 government teachers formally launched their strike and completely boycotted academic activities in Islamabad on Thursday. They are demanding the implementation of the upgraded teacher’s package announced by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani on November 8, 2010.
Teachers of around 400 federal government schools in Islamabad gathered outside their respective schools in the morning and stayed there till evening. A group of teachers also gathered in front of the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) chanting full-throated slogans against the government.
The strike remained peaceful and no incidents of violence were reported.
In some schools students joined their teachers and denounced the government’s “stubbornness” over the issue.
FDE and Ministry of Education officials held a series of meetings with the leaders of Federal Government Teachers’ Association (FGTA) but could not get them to call off the strike. Statements issued by the union said they will continue their protest till the education ministry issues an official notification adopting their six-point charter of demands.
Azhar Mehmood Awan, president of FGTA, said FDE and the ministry had been using delaying tactics for the last three months.
“We have decided not to get trapped by their tactics of giving us date after date for implementation of the promised package,” he added.
“We will change our future line of action after Saturday if they do not change the policy,” said Shahid Mehmood, another member of FGTA.
Students also gathered outside Federal Government High School in F-7/4. They said their studies were being badly affected by the teachers’ strike.
“What does the government expect from the new generation if teachers are on the roads protesting for their rights,” Waqas Ahmed, a class 10 student, said.
“We will also join our teachers if the authorities do not fulfil their demands,” he added.
Director General, FDE Shaheen Khan told The Express Tribune said that she has requested the protesting teachers to end the boycott as their demands will “hopefully” be resolved in two days.
Some of the key demands of the teachers include uniformity in syllabus, distribution of financial resources and administrative and academic structure of all public sector institutions.
PM Gillani on November 8 had said that all educational institutions of Islamabad Capital Territory would be administered as Islamabad Model Schools/Colleges. He had directed the Ministry of Education to consider the establishment of a Federation Public School in Islamabad as well as a Model University to cater to the affiliation needs of ICT Graduate and Postgraduate Colleges. These colleges are presently affiliated with the University of Punjab.
The prime minister had also announced the upgradation of posts of teachers working under FDE and the introduction of Time-Scale Promotion Formula which would replace the previously Four-Tier Promotion Formula.

(Published by The Express Tribune on February 18, 2011)

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