ISLAMABAD-The Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) on Tuesday decided to form counter-harassment and anti-bullying committees for the educational institutions under the FDE.

Director General FDE following the directions of the Federal Ministry of Education has taken the initiative and issued a notification to all educational institutions working under FDE in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

The notification issued said that pursuant to prevention and counteraction of any form of harassment, bullying and physical abuse and in order to develop conducive teaching-learning environment in all educational institutions that are working under the Federal Directorate of Education, a counter-harassment and anti-bullying (committee) is hereby constituted with the following composition at each FDE’s institution. 

The committee will include head of institution, respective area education officer, and deputy head of institution.

The letter issued said that the committee at each institution’s level shall ensure adoption and implementation of a prevention and response strategy while broadening its scope of transforming trends including cyber harassment, bullying or abuse, to and from the students. It said that the terms of reference (ToRs) of the committee for preventive strategy shall be to conduct staff orientation and training on code of harassment, sexual misconduct, bullying of abuse etc., for the purpose of inculcating the understanding of forms of harassment/bullying etc., and responsibilities of students, academic and administrative staff at each institution proactively.

It further added to create on-campus awareness and sensitisation of students and teachers on the gender-neutral and all-inclusive reporting mechanism for issues related to harassment, sexual misconduct, bullying or abuse etc, through information-dissemination and other appropriate means. To take practical steps for ensuring mental comfort and physical safety of students including covering of unsupervised spaces through installing 24/7 cameras (inside and outside campus premises), covering of blind spots and restriction of unnecessary movement in laboratories, libraries and private spaces such as toilets etc., it added.

For the response strategy, the letter said to establish a five-member reporting council at each institution’s level (with deputy HoI as its patron, three most senior faculty members, and the school prefect, to be nominated by the HoI concerned, after a mutual consensus of the committee, at each institution level). 

It further said that the council shall be required to develop liaison with class representatives/prefects/monitors at each level, respectively. The council shall encourage the students for reporting of any harassment/bullying-related incidents.

The council shall maintain confidentiality of the contents of the complaint and shall be responsible for communicating/forwarding any related complaint/case to the committee, in a transparent and objective manner, along with supporting evidence.

The committee shall be responsible to convene its meeting within five working days of reporting of any case. The committee shall adopt an objective approach by formally recording counter-narrative from both parties (the complainant and the accused) and to make recommendations in the light of relevant provisions, state laws and supporting evidence.

The committee may recommend disciplinarily action including imposition of fine/expulsion (in case of students) suspension/termination of services in case of FDE employees, or any other provisions as per state law. It said that in case of involvement of any outsider in the case i.e. parent/guardian etc., the committee may recommend an appropriate action. In case any action is recommended by the committee, the same to be forwarded to the office of the Directorate General FDE, along with all records available. Upon receipt of the case, the Directorate General FDE shall nominate/assign the case to any Director of the FDE.