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September 24, 2020

Educational institutes given seven days to form anti-harassment committees

Karachi

September 24, 2020

The Directorate of Inspection and Registration of Private Institution (Dirpis) on Wednesday issued a notice to the administrators of the private educational intuitions to furnish a progress report on the formation of anti-committees in their respective intuitions.

The notice reads that the private educational institutions were directed to constitute anti-harassment committees as per the Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2010 within seven days.

“The directorate has once again reminded the administrators of the private intuitions to take the notice seriously and form anti-harassment committees at the earliest,” said Dirpis registrar Rafia Javed.

She said the provincial ombudsman had asked Dirpis officials to implement the aforementioned Act at private schools and colleges. “Therefore, a circular was issued to the owners and administrators to form three-member committees as per rules.”

She said the directorate had not received any complaint from the teachers, nonteaching staffers and students of private schools and colleges so far. The reason, according to her, is that a majority of them have no knowledge about the relevant Act.

“However, after the implantation of the Act, it is expected that teachers and students would report harassment cases. In this regards, Dirpis has formed a strategy under which each and every complaint will be immediately responded.”

It is pertinent to mention here that the Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010 was passed some ten years ago, but the provincial government, the College Education Department and the School Education and Literacy Department made no arrangement to implement the said law and raise awareness among the working women associated with the private and public sector of education. This is why, in most cases women do not wish to file complaints against their harassers to avoid intimidation and vilification, fearing that taking such an action could result in their families forcing them to quit working.

Also, there is not a single anti-harassment committee functioning at any of the public girls’ secondary schools or women’s colleges across Sindh where male faculties and staffers are employed. However, back in 2010 the education department had issued a circular ordering the transfer of all male staffers from government girls’ schools and women’s colleges across the province. The decision was taken after increased reports of sexual harassment at female educational institutions.

At present, there is no organisation that could represent thousands of female college teachers and students. According to the available data, more than 4,000 female teachers are employed at public secondary schools and colleges across the province.

However, these women are forced to approach male-dominated organisations if they wish for someone to address their issues, even though it is next to impossible for these bodies to properly represent them.

According to the data available on the college education department’s website, Sindh has 239 degree colleges and 290 higher secondary schools for male and female students. At these institutions, the number of enrolled students stands at 123,446.

The percentage of female students enrolled at women’s colleges is 42.6 per cent, those enrolled at girls’ secondary schools is 31 per cent and those enrolled at co-educational institutes is 36.6 per cent.