ISLAMABAD - Non-payment of hiring grant for rented houses and discrimination over payments as compared to other government employees has sparked anxiety among public sector teaching community of the capital.

Teachers are recruited from across the country but very small number of government owned houses have been allotted to the teachers. Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) has the backlog to pay for the rental expenditures of its employees for the previous years. Due to this backlog, no owner is willing to rent out his/her building to any teacher. The tenants are being threatened and there are stories of neurotic diseases among teachers and their families who are in constant threat from the owners.

Teachers are provided a so-called hiring facility that is no less than a wet blanket, regretted a teacher. “Since majority of the teachers are residing in hired houses with the rental ceiling provided by the government but unfortunately they are deprived of this facility in the sense that the payment of rent to the owners of the houses is outstanding for the last one to two years. As a result the owners have been pressing very hard for the payments of the hiring otherwise they are threatened to throw out the household to get their houses vacated”.

The teachers believe that this wretched dilemma is just because of the lack of finance for the teaching community. “This is not the issue of other government departments. It is the height of discrimination with the builders of nation. As a result the house owners are reluctant to tender their houses for hiring to the teachers because other government departments make advance payments for the coming years but Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) has failed to make payments even of the previous year,” remarked another teacher.

Prof Tahir Mahmood, Secretary General of College Teachers Association, holding responsible the directorate for failure for getting the required amount said, “It seems that the officials controlling the education department are absolutely incompetent who could not seek the requisite budget in accordance with the number of their employees”.

In this era of dearness they are forced to borrow loans for the payment to the owner as well as for their daily expenses.

The fear of the owner of the house, the indifferent attitude of the department and financial worries has been adversely affecting the efficiency of the teachers in the classrooms. The teachers are compelled to reside in the far-flung areas of Islamabad and Rawalpindi due to higher rents. Moreover, they have to reside in small and substandard houses in odd places because of the same reason.

He reiterated that the teaching community should not be aggravated to take any extreme action such as strike and boycott again because examinations are coming closer and students’ career may not be put at risk.

Another dilemma associated with house requisition is that the teachers have to pay over and above the rental ceiling to the owner of the house. Deedar Ali Baloch, Assistant Professor of F.G College H-9, informed that he had been paying the Rs.15000 over and above the rental ceiling fixed by the government for the last one-year.

The new teachers are the worst affectees  as they are not allowed to get hiring facility as the FDE has put ban on the registration of new hiring cases . The new lecturers have to wait for many years to get the permission for hiring.

The teachers are of the opinion that the earlier Estate Office under the Ministry of Housing and works was far better than the FDE that dealt overall cases of hired houses of all departments, ministries and divisions smoothly up to 2004.

Since the decentralization of hiring cases in 2004, the directorate is in crisis. FDE is incompetent enough even to deal cases of its own employees, which are many times less than the estate office cases, they believed.

According to officials the number of government owned houses is only 16734 out of which a very small number of houses have been allotted to the teachers because of out of turn procedure of the ministers. It is the need of the day that more houses must be built in the government sector to overcome this serious problem.

An official of FDE requesting not to be named informed that the directorate had demanded Rs. 1061 million in terms of hiring allocations for the current fiscal year but only Rs. 200 million were committed by the Finance Ministry. Whereas only committed liabilities are of Rs. 400 million and the teachers have been waiting for their dues for the last one-and-a-half years. 

He said the directorate has been contemplating new ways to demand so that the Finance Ministry consider their budget proposals seriously. “Currently the ministry allocates a lump sum amount to the directorate under one head and the directorate further distribute it to schools and colleges. When we would demand budget for 55 colleges separately and other institutions, the ministry would spare additional budget for all the colleges separately and allocate some amount for schools and directorate that may increase the amount automatically and directorate would manage to secure extra budget to fulfil the needs “. 

The FDE DG Atif Kayani when contacted said ‘its big issue for us as the directorate has been facing Rs 1,000 million deficit in terms of hiring budget and every year the ministry imposed cuts on its budget due to financial constraints’. He informed that a summary has been moved to the Finance Ministry for the release of supplementary grant to meet the deficit.