ISLAMABAD: After facing severe criticism from students and their parents, the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) here on Thursday directed the schools and colleges not to collect transport charges until the ‘final decision’ in this regard.
“The matter regarding transport funds for buses is under consideration at the higher level and is likely to be decided shortly. All the heads of institutions and School Management Committees (SMCs) and College Management Committees (CMCs) may withhold the collection of transport charges from parents till the final decision which would be conveyed accordingly,” reads a statement issued by the FDE.
It stated that in the meanwhile the bus facility should remain operational for all institutions and area education officers should convey this to the all concerned.
Recently, the FDE had empowered the SMCs and CMCs to run the school bus service on cost-sharing basis in accordance with the decision of the federal cabinet made last year. In the light of this, the SMCs and CMCs had decided to charge the students from Rs1,500 to Rs2,500, a step that perturbed the students and their parents.
Besides, the parents had already deposited Rs5,000 as bus charges for a year in the start of this academic year and as such they had started opposing the new monthly charges.
They had also requested the FDE DG and federal education minster to withdraw the decision about collection of monthly transport charges.
The FDE through a notification on October 14 had empowered the SMCs and CMCs to run the buses on cost-sharing basis.
“In pursuance of the approval of the cabinet on 2-2-2021 regarding operationalisation policy for buses in FDE and in accordance with the Right to Free and Compulsory Education and School and College Management Committee Rule 2021, the buses will be operated by School/College Management Committees (SMCs/CMCs). The expenditure and revenue will be managed locally by SMCs/CMCs with notified monthly rates for students,” reads the earlier notification.
All the institutions were directed through this notification to constitute bus management committees and mobilise the resources through SMCs/CMCs by engaging the community and parents.
The bus management committee was also supposed to ensure maintenance of proper record.
An official of FDE said that in April this year the finance ministry had rejected the education directorate’s summary seeking creation of posts of 171 drivers and 214 conductors. He said that as such the SMCs and CMCs were also asked to hire drivers and conductors at their own.
During the PML-N government from 2013-18, the FDE had procured 200 buses for schools and colleges, but funds were not allocated for fuel and salaries of the drivers and conductors.
As a result, most buses remained parked as the educational institutions were unable to operate them. The matter remained in the news for a couple of years and was also discussed in several standing committee meetings.