ISLAMABAD-Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) is facing financial constraints in order to provide free education in public sector schools and colleges of the city, National Assembly committee was told on Saturday. A sub-committee of the National Assembly on Federal Education and Professional Training (FE&PT) met here to examine the issues being faced by FDE and to suggest proposals and remedies.

The meeting was chaired by convener Member National Assembly (MNA) Ali Nawaz Awan, while member MNAs including Mehnaz Akbar Aziz, Nafeesa Inayatullah Khan Khattak and Sdaqat Ali Khan Abbasi attended the meeting. FDE officials while briefing the committee said that the public sector educational institutions under FDE have only 9,000 teachers while it required 14,000 to meet the shortage.

The committee was informed that the free education funds were less than requirement and the department has to facilitate the students in providing free education and transport service.

FDE officials said that students are facing shortage of free books from FDE after government imposed cut on the operational budget of the department. The committee inquired about the demanded and received budget of the FDE, on which National Assembly body was informed that FDE received only Rs80 million, while it demanded Rs140 million for the fiscal year. Officials said that the cut in budget resulted in price hike of the books published for students. FDE officials said that the department has to pay Rs200 million to the publisher for printing of books. The committee was also told that students at primary level are being taught National Curriculum while after the primary level they are being taught National Books Foundation (NBF) course.

The committee was also told that ministry of finance had raised objection on releasing the supplementary grant for the salaries payment of daily wages staff. Meanwhile, FDE arranged Rs10 million from another fund to release the payments.

Officials said that FDE demanded Rs314 million grant from ministry of finance but it only released Rs100 million while 314 million are still pending.

FDE officials also briefed that there is serious shortage of teachers in educational institutions and FDE cannot hire more because of financial constraints. Officials said that currently 9,000 teachers are teaching while the 14,000 is required number. Number of daily wages staff is 2,200.

FDE officials also said that 150 laboratories were established with the support of universal fund, and department in future does not has funds to pay the daily wages staff of the labs.

Convener committee Ali Awan said that FDE is facing shortage of 5,000 teaching staff which is a major cause of declining education standards. He also said that despite of availability of daily wages teachers, the department is not regularising the teachers.

He said that federal minister of education in cabinet has said that ministry of law will consider this matter on highest level.

The committee was told that regularisation issue of staff from scale 1 to 15 will be settled at the level of ministry, while issues of above scale 16 will be resolved by Federal Public Service Commission.

The committee also summoned the officials of National Curriculum and National Books Foundation in next meeting.