ISLAMABAD-Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (PEIRA) is formulating a policy to counter harassment issues at private educational institutions, a statement said on Wednesday.

The statement issued by PEIRA said that an emergency meeting of the School Education Reforms Committee (SERC) was called in response to the recent harassment issues reported in educational institutions.

The 2nd meeting of SERC was held at the office of PEIRA that was attended by the Parliamentary Secretary for Federal Education and Professional Training Wajiha Akram and Chairperson PEIRA Zia Batool, wherein, other members including experts of the field and educationists.

The statement said that PEIRA has constituted a committee on school education reforms keeping in view the policy gaps and lack of implementation frameworks for already existing policies such as Harassment at Workplace Act of 2010 and HEC’s policy on addressing harassment issues in universities.

It also said the government is deliberating on introducing a new legislative framework after making a policy-gap analysis, by adopting an integrated approach and focused efforts.

The committee has also highlighted the need for addressing transforming trends in harassment cases such as cyber bullying etc., with special consideration to the online mode of teaching that has been adopted by educational institutions since the outbreak of COVID-19.

Chairperson PEIRA shared that the policy guidelines will be consulted for drafting the planned legislative framework that will also provide further cover for effective implementation of the policy. Since, a robust and feasible policy document is required with precise and implementable recommendations at all kinds of educational setups, be it a private or public entity. The SERC is mandated for finalising the “Policy for Counteracting Harassment Issues in Educational Institutions.”

The committee will complete the policy guidelines by July 31, 2020 and the recommendations will be forwarded to the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training for consolidation and introduction of a new robust legislative framework to attend to such issues in educational setups in Pakistan. This will be a significant milestone for addressing psychological and emotional issues that will improve mental health of teachers and students and ensure conducive teaching-learning environment.

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