FDE reforms inevitable to reform education

Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) is an umbrella organization responsible for Islamabad’s 423 educational institutions, but it has been functioning without a regular Director General (DG) since its last one, Dr. Shahnaz A Riaz who retired in December 2016. The office has been run on an ad hoc basis since then, with one bureaucrat after another holding additional charge as DG, FDE. The affairs of FDE are really abysmal especially for female teachers serving under its administrative control.

A joint secretary from the education ministry is currently looking after the post and as per information confirmed by the scribe the incumbent DG, Syed Umair Javed is not even a civil servant. A little research of his professional background and his profile on the LinkedIn shows that before joining Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training as Joint Secretary in January 2019, he had been serving the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) in various positions for over a decade. The CCP is an independent quasi-regulatory, quasi-judicial body as the official website proclaims. The Supreme Court of Pakistan, in its previous, as well as, its most recent decision delivered by a 09 Judge Bench, has determined that employees belonging to autonomous bodies/independent corporations under the Federal Government will not attract the definition of civil servants.

Ministry officials also confirmed that at the time of his induction into ministry as JS, Establishment Division had made it clear that the move to appoint him would have legal implications but the advice was set aside.

Federal Government Teachers Association (FGTA), a body of teachers of schools under FDE, had also been demanding of the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training to appoint a permanent head of FDE for long. They said that the post of DG FDE was crucial because around 423 educational institutions, with more than 15,000 teaching and non-teaching staff and nearly 250,000 students were under the educational directorate.

Syed Umair Javed, was given temporary charge of acting DG FDE for 3 months in April 2019, while after completion of his term, he was again given the charge till further orders. However, the move of appointing ‘wrong man for the right job’ has started to show up its consequences. The DG with little experience of working in the civil service lacks decision power and has little knowledge of E&D rules governing civil servants which is the basic prerequisite for the officer holding such key post in the public sector.

Resultantly, he has to rely on the counsel of clerical staff of FDE, on whose proposals and briefings, decisions are being taken. Mr. Agha Nadeem, was one such example who was originally an employee of H-9 College, Islamabad and was serving on attachment basis as Admin Officer in the Female Section (Schools), FDE. Agha Nadeem had constantly, over a period of time, been accused by different female school teachers of sexual harassment, of taking bribes and maintaining an insulting behavior towards them. Despite multiple complaints submitted to FDE by the affected teachers along with irrefutable proofs (in the form of audio recordings in which he can be heard of using abusive language, and demanding bribes), he was protected by both Director HRD and the DG. The complaints also included changing teachers’ FR’s in case they resisted, and mentally torturing teachers on whims of their heads and taking favors from heads in return.

Finally, on repeated complaints of the affected teachers, Director Admin intervened for redressal of complaints against the Admin Officer proposing his posting out and requested a viable replacement. As a result, a formal order was issued replacing Mr. Agha Nadeem with another Admin Officer who joined the office only to face resistance by Mr. Nadeem who refused to comply with his official posting orders.

Mr. Nadeem, being on the verge of retirement, was given due courtesy by not repatriating him to his parent college and was made to sit decently in the same section and to work on his pension process. The only legal action he had to face was a warning issued by the DG two days before retirement which technically had no repercussion. In this way, he was given a safe exit.

On the other hand, a barrage of pressure tactics ensued on Director Admin, Maj. Abdul Waheed Khan who was pressurized from every side to trackback on his orders. He, however, refused to be bullied. When ultimately he excused to the DG, FDE from taking his orders back, Director Admin was transferred to Planning and Management Section, all this because of an admin officer of dubious attributes. Director HRD also played a negative role by supporting the mafia directly.

Director Admin FDE, Maj (R) Abdul Waheed Khan was unceremoniously removed from his seat. He too is up for retirement in a few months’ time but was refused the courtesy due for a senior officer. He was bullied by the system for refusing to protect the corrupt men who ought to be in jails and NAB custody. Who will dare to take stand against any harassment and corruption by staff of FDE leashed out against female teachers? The whole matter requires immediate high-level inquiry so that balance can be restored in FDE.

It is also hoped that with the winds of change gathering speed, the government will walk the talk by appointing a permanent Director General for FDE to resolve all outstanding issues faced by the teaching community. For this to materialize, ‘right man for the right job’ seems to be the only viable option.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt