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July 12, 2019

‘Centralisation of power’ at FDE provokes strong criticism


July 12, 2019

Islamabad : The regulator for Islamabad’s government schools and colleges has come in for heavy criticism from decentralisation advocates for creating a new director’s post before concentrating the decision-making authority on key matters in it.

Merging the offices of director (model colleges), director (FG colleges), director (schools) and director (training) completely and that of director (administration) partly, the Federal Directorate of Education has assigned them all to the director (human resource development), a post that didn’t exist earlier.

Ironically, the ‘centralised management model’ has been introduced in the FDE by an ‘outsider’, who is acting as a stand-in for the permanent director general.

A joint secretary in the education ministry, Syed Umair Javed has provisionally held the top FDE office for around seven months showing the ministry’s ad hoc approach towards the management of the directorate’s affairs.

The top bosses of the education ministry and FDE have come in for heavy criticism over the ‘concentration of powers in the hands of a few’ with the officials insisting the centralised management won’t work in the directorate.

“Managing the affairs of model colleges, FG colleges, schools, training and administration at the same time and that, too, efficiently and effectively, will be a tall order for one director. While he/she will struggle to deliver on these too many responsibilities, the other senior officers will be very demotivated to see no role for themselves in decision-making,” an official of the directorate told ‘The News’.

He said not only did the centralised management in government organisations go against the ruling PTI’s commitment to devolution of power for effective governance, but it had caused resentment among FDE staff members as well.

Another FDE official also questioned the move wondering how the director (human resource development) will handle the cases of transfer, posting, recruitment, promotion, training, and retirement of employees of (the erstwhile) five departments singlehandedly.

“It is humanly impossible for one person to do all these tasks in an efficient way,” he said.

Complaining about a lack of clear rules about authority and responsibility in the FDE, the official said after the abrupt move, responsibility didn’t match authority, while hierarchy didn’t maintain order.

“The decision-making process will slow down as a director (human resource development) dealing with five major offices will be overburdened,” he said calling for the immediate reversal of the concentration of authority to increase the organisation's efficiency.

The teachers of government schools and colleges also objected to the handing over of key FDE offices to a junior officer and claimed that the director (human resource development) had less than three years service in the directorate and he'd landed the prized slot for being a blue-eyed officer of the education ministry’s top bosses.

They said the director’s appointment had already been challenged in the Islamabad High Court.

A college principal feared that heavy workloads would undermine the ability of the director (human resource development) to do justice to the quality of his work, so the 423 educational institutions supervised by him would certainly suffer.

“I foresee long delays in the disposal of our (college) files about staff transfer, posting, recruitment, and training at the FDE,” he said.

The principal said speedy decisions and their effective enforcement were imperative for good governance but that was unlikely to happen due to the concentration of authority in the hands of a few.

A college teacher said the regulating of schools, FG colleges and model colleges by a single department would mess up things.

“The FDE used to have separate directors for FG colleges, model colleges, and schools, while there’re directors to deal with teacher training and affairs of non-teaching staff members separately. That setup produced speedy decisions. However, the recent concentration of all those responsibilities in one person will do more harm than good,” he said.

A girls college teacher suspected that the sudden centralisation of authority at the FDE was meant to misappropriate resources by those at the helm.

Insisting autocratic decisions cause a creeping sense of unfairness, she called for an immediate end to the persistent ad hocism at the directorate for its strengthening as an institution to further the cause of education in Islamabad.

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