ISLAMABAD - No doubt this was the first time in the history of Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) that a record amount of Rs 1,292 million was allocated to the education department in the head of rental allowance for teachers in the new fiscal year against Rs 361.746 million of the previous year.  However, at the same time an immediate cut of 30 per cent is imposed before its payment to the teachers, which has caused unrest among them. The net amount after deduction of 30 per cent cut will be 904.4 million. At present total accumulated rental liabilities of the previous two years has exceeded Rs 1 billion whereas the 'net' allocation in the head of "Occupancy cost/rent for residential building of FDE" is only Rs 904.4 million which is good for nothing.

According to officials, this may provide a temporary relief but will further lead the situation from bad to worse and this temporary relief will lose its existence within a very short period of time because the allocated amount is not sufficient to clear the pending rents of the hired houses of the teachers. There will be no amount for payment of current rents after clearing the backlog. Moreover, there is a ban on new hiring and more than 1,600 teachers, who have been inducted in education department for the last 5 years, are not allowed to hire houses for themselves. They are compelled to reside privately either in the far-flung areas or in the slums of the city.

Officials said it was considered a good sign that Finance Division allocated an amount which would cover the backlog of pending rents of previous two years. Teachers have been waiting impatiently for payment of the pending amounts for the last two years of their house rental ceiling.

"Payment of house rental ceiling to the teachers has been the most serious and pinching issue since the decentralisation of hiring cases in 2004. How can a teacher deliver appropriately in the classroom when he is burdened with such type of unnecessary tensions? The government should pay heed to this burning issue of the teachers and this cut of 30 per cent should be withdrawn. This would be a positive gesture on the part of the government in order to facilitate the teachers," said a teacher requesting anonymity.

The total amount of Rs 1,292 million is subdivided in the following way: FDE and model colleges Rs 759 million; primary schools Rs 245 million; middle schools Rs 35 million; high schools Rs 180 million; H-8 postgraduate college Rs.15 million; H-9 degree college Rs.12.5 million; F-7/2 postgraduate college Rs 12 million; F-7/4 Postgraduate college Rs 12 million; H-8/4 postgraduate commerce college Rs 3.4 million; G-10/4 postgraduate girls college Rs.6.5 million; F-10/4 degree college Rs 9 million; Humak girls degree college Rs 0.6 million; I-8/3 girls degree college nil; Sihala degree college nil; and I-14 girls college nil.

The data further shows deplorable situation of FG colleges that only Rs 71 million have been allocated to them. After deduction of 30 per cent cut, they will receive only Rs 49.7 million that is not sufficient to clear even the backlog of the pending rent of two years.

Professor Tahir Mahmood, President Federal Government College Teachers Association (FGCTA), demanded, "Allocation in the hiring head to FG colleges should be enhanced and the payment of house rental ceiling to the teachers should be made in accordance with their respective grades according to time scale. Furthermore the discrimination with the newly inducted teachers should be stopped and they may be allowed to get the houses hired."

Secretary Ministry of Capital Administration and Development (CAD), Shaigan Shareef Malik, said the government has imposed cuts on all the sectors under austerity measures 'but we have been negotiating with them to exempt a few areas like hospitals and hiring allowance for teachers or else we would demand supplementary grants.'