Islamabad - Over 90 female teachers of a girls’ college have refused to perform duties assigned in far-off rural areas for the local government polls in Islamabad Capital Territory.

About 97 teachers of Islamabad Model Postgraduate College for Girls, F-7/2, citing mobility and security issues have asked the concerned officials to replace their duties from far-off rural polling stations to urban areas. They said the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) and Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) have shown utter mismanagement while assigning duties and dubbed the duties ‘discriminatory.’

The ECP has engaged around 12,000 officials from various government departments for the local government polls in the federal capital scheduled for November 30, with most of them teaching and non-teaching staffers from schools and colleges and the remaining from International Islamic University and Capital Development Authority.

The teachers largely believe that the officials have not considered the seniority and age of the senior teachers for calling them for the election duties.

They also expressed shock that nearly all the female teachers of F-7/2 college have been asked to perform the election duties in the remote areas like Kirpa, Loi Bher Awan, Bhimber Tarar of UC-10, UC-15, UC-16, and UC-17.

Female teachers who go to work leaving their children behind home have reservations in performing duties in far-off areas. They say their duties may end at midnight; thus it would be unsafe for them to perform the assigned tasks that include vote count and then transport ballot boxes to the returning officers.

A lecturer who has been asked to perform the election duty in the remote area of Bhimbher Tarar said, “I find it hard to locate the area what to speak of reaching there. It should have been considered to place me in nearby sectors of my workplace for making it easier for me to perform duty.”

One of the lecturers complained that all other teaching and non-teaching staffers including males have been assigned duties in their nearby institutions but only female lecturers of F-7/2 college have been asked to work in remote areas.

“We are not refusing to perform duties because it is our national obligation,” remarked another teacher adding: “We just want the officials to facilitate women by assigning them duties in urban areas. She said the teachers working in educational institutions of the respective union councils in rural areas could have been appointed in the said polling stations.

An officer of FDE, on condition of anonymity, said, “I was surprised to see the duties of the F-7/2 teachers in remote areas whereas it was an understanding that they would be given election duties in UC-25, UC-26, UC-27, UC-28 in the urban sectors of Islamabad.”

President of Federal Government College Teachers’ Association, Prof Manzar Zafar Kazmi said, “We as nation builders never step back from performing such national duties but if such duties seem to be a victimisation and discrimination against the teachers and particularly the senior teachers, then the representative body of teachers will stand by the teaching community and request the concerned quarters to revisit their decision.”

“The duties to the female teachers should be given in the urban sectors or in the areas where they teach so that their mobility and efficiency is not compromised,” suggested general secretary of the association Prof Muhammad Akram.

FDE Director General Moin Uddin Wani, when contacted, said the duties have been assigned by returning officers. “The FDE only cooperated with them unconditionally and it would be wrong on our part to involve in micromanagement,” he added.

According to information, the teachers have also negotiated with Deputy Commissioner Capt Mushtaq Hussain who has assured them to take up the issue with concerned officials to address their concerns.