Being selective about the staff for DIET, SCERT: Why was the initiative shelved?

Logo of District Institutes of Education and Training [Source: Twitter]

More than two years ago, the school education department had ordered to post only “promising human resource” in the District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs) and erstwhile State Institute of Education (SIE) Kashmir now SCERT.

The initiative was widely appreciated as it was seen as one of the major decisions to bring reforms in these premier institutes. But from the last two years, there was no headway in the process as the vested interest in the department tried to sabotage the initiative.

The decision to post promising staff in DIET and SIE was taken after the massive outcry over the selective postings of some teachers, masters and lecturers by the department in these premier institutes for prolonged periods, all in violation of the norms.

Notably the school education department has made these premier institutes as resting places and a particular lot of so called teaching staff has been posted there for years together in violation of set norms. The people posted in these institutes are designated as teacher educators but have never been posted in schools to have a firsthand experience of teaching students and assessing their learning levels.

The same category of the teaching staff sabotages such reformative decisions to enjoy their prolonged stint in DIETs and SCERT.

In February 2019, an order was issued by the Director School Education Kashmir (DSEK) wherein the teachers, masters and lecturers were instructed to submit applications in a given format to the directorate for their posting in the DIETs and the erstwhile SIE.

It is a fact that the erstwhile SIE and the DIETs are the premier institutes for continuous  professional development which directly or indirectly impacts school improvement programmes. Also, the effectiveness of the erstwhile SIE and the DIETs had a bearing on the achievement levels of the children and performances of teachers as well.

Keeping in view the importance of these institutes, the department had decided to make SIE and the DIETs strong and post the promising human resource there.

Barring some vested interest who want to stay away from their postings in schools, the government initiative was appreciated by one and all.

The department had chalked out a proper strategy and decided that posting in the DIETs and the SIE will be made on the basis of merit and experience so as to ensure that the right teachers and the teacher educators are posted in these academic institutes.

But the efforts remained confined to only papers due to internal lobbying which was done only to favour influential lot to continue their stint in these institutes without any scrutiny.

Over the past many years, it has been apparent that the influential teaching staff who are supposed to be posted in schools to teach students try to hijack every reformative decision for their personal gains-which is only to avoid being posted in schools- which is their primary job.

Ironically, the officials at the helm of affairs also succumb to the pressure and all the reformative decisions take a back seat which tells upon the performance of the department.

The major reformative decision was sabotaged as the department had decided to post the teaching staff in DIETs and SIE only after scrutinizing the qualification of teachers and assessing their ability in conducting research workshops and teacher training. On the basis of this the faculty was supposed to be deputed to these institutes for a fixed tenure of two to three years.

The DIET is a nodal agency of the school education department for providing academic resources and research support at district level for success of various programs undertaken at elementary education level by the school education department.

However, the failure of the department to bring accountability in these institutes has turned these institutes into resting places. The department should on priority shuffle the staff from these institutes and only promising staff should be posted in these institutes which will bring some sense of accountability and transparency in the system. The department should discourage a sort of ‘lobbyism’ created to hamper the functioning of these institutes.

The deputation of the teaching staff in these institutes should be purely done on merit, and  in the interest of the students and overall betterment of the department.

There are hundreds and thousands of dedicated and hardworking teachers who have always taken a lead. From the past two years it was really heartening to see the way our government school teachers played their role in the prevailing situation. The efforts of these teachers have really given recognition to the teaching community as well as the government-run schools.

But at the same time, the government has failed to bring accountability in DIETs and erstwhile SIE which obviously has brought a bad name to the department. The staff which claims to have contributed to the academics of the students during their stay in these institutes should not hesitate if they are sent back to the schools to directly teach the students instead of training teachers about how to teach students. This will also be a contribution from their side.

The department should strictly limit the tenure of the teaching staff in these institutes to two to three years and also an assessment of each teaching faculty should be done half yearly before continuing their stint in these institutes.

These institutes should be purely used for academic purposes which is the only way out to clear the wrong perception about these institutes. The officials at the helm of affairs often claim to strengthen DIETs through implementation of various roadmaps but all claims fall flat at the end of the day.

Besides other routine transfers, the school education department should make the shuffling of the teaching staff in DIETs and SIE as a regular exercise. The staff in these institutes should be changed as per norms because no teacher should hesitate to teach students in a school. It is finally a classroom and the students there that make a  teacher.