Why this contention over detachment of teachers from offices

Over the years, it has been observed that the detachment of teachers from offices has become a bone of contention between the department and the teachers. The teachers make hue and cry for getting relieved from offices. Given the resentment shown by the teachers (working in offices) who are otherwise recruited to teach students in schools it seems they feel humiliated for joining schools to impart education to their students.

In past years, the school education department has issued several orders for detachment of teachers manning non-teaching assignments in offices. But unlike other orders or circular instructions, the move to detach teachers from offices become a cause of contention and creates a debate within the department for unnecessary reasons.

I will not go back to discuss how and why the department started the practice of deputing teachers in offices and handle non-teaching assignments due to which these teachers never contributed in schools. The practice of deputation of teachers started after inception of schemes like erstwhile SSA, RMSA- now Samagra and Mid-Day Meals (MDM) in Jammu and Kashmir.

After their deputation in offices, these teachers were assigned clerical jobs under different schemes. I will not blame the whole teaching community for the mess but the blame goes to those political leaders who shifted some selected teachers from schools to offices for their political interests.

Already, after the applicability of the Right to Education (RTE) Act in J&K, no teacher is allowed to be deployed for taking up any non-teaching assignments.

Recently, the school education department issued a list of 196 teachers with the directions to shift them back to their schools and focus on community classes and other teaching assignments. Though the order was implemented in almost all the districts, there was resentment from teachers, masters and lecturers for being shifted back to schools. The height of resentment was such that the administrative department had to issue reminders to the directors for the implementation of the detachment order.

But I wonder why a teacher should hesitate to teach students in schools. Why he uses all his influence to manage his deputation in office and becomes more interested to handle clerical jobs than to teach students in a school. It is not the first time that such resentment is being shown by teachers. But it has happened in the past as well and the Chief Education Officers (CEOs) in several districts didn’t implement the orders of the directorate for detachment of the teachers from offices. Till last month, most of the teachers deputed in offices continued their stint and did not join their schools. The factual position is that the number of teachers working in offices is not only 196 but more than that. However, the administrative department has not started a massive exercise to shift all the teachers from offices.

Over the years, the department has remained busy in deputation and detachment of teachers from offices which has created a mess in schools as well in offices. No one from the department has been able to address the basic issue- to fill the vacant posts in CEO, ZEO offices.

The school education department has failed to undertake re-organisation of non-teaching, ministerial staff since 1989, forcing deputation of teachers for the non-teaching jobs.

The delay in filing non-teaching staff in offices leads to crises in the department. Over the years, the department has been deputing teachers for manning the non-teaching posts which continues to evoke widespread criticism. Though the CEOs and ZEOs have been time and again directed to relieve the teachers engaged in non-teaching assignments in their offices, the orders have never been implemented on the ground. Because there seems to be no option but to continue with the practice.

The sanctioned strength of the staff in the CEOs offices has not been filled till date owing to which the officers utilise services of teachers. Not only in the offices but the crises is prevalent in the schools as well wherein most of non-teaching posts are lying vacant. This problem is prevalent in all schools which were upgraded during the past few years. The middle and high schools were upgraded to high and higher secondary levels without filling non-teaching posts. In most of the cases, it has been observed that the department gives preference to only creation of teaching posts in upgraded schools and the same teachers are assigned non-teaching jobs.

Since the inception of various centrally sponsored schemes, the workload in CEOs offices has increased manifold but the dearth of staff in the office is believed to be the one of the basic reasons for poor implementation of the schemes. Instead of recruiting permanent staff, the department utilized services of teachers to do the non-teaching jobs in offices.

While the authorities have allowed the deputation of teachers for manning non-teaching jobs it has a direct impact on the academics in schools. Given the present situation, the department cannot overcome this problem unless the sanctioned strength in offices is filled.

So, instead of making tall claims of reformation under new initiatives, the authorities in the school education department should focus on these grave issues which hampers the day to day work in offices at zones and district level.

But till the department wakes up to the issue and fill the vacant posts in offices and in upgraded schools, let teaching be priority for teachers rather than showing their interest in manning non-teaching assignments in offices. The identity of the teacher lies with his student not in offices.