The J&K administrative council in the last week of August accorded sanction to the establishment of the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) in J&K by merging existing two State Institute of Education (SIE) in J&K.
It was a long pending demand to have SCERT in J&K as it was the only erstwhile state without this premier institute. The establishment of SCERT was awaited from 2017 after it was approved by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).
As per the government order, the J&K SCERT will have a Central move office with divisional offices of SCERT at Jammu and Srinagar with distribution of academic branches in the two divisional offices.
While the government has made it functional in J&K with distribution of various components at its offices in Jammu and Srinagar, concerns have been raised from different quarters over the distribution of the academic branches of this premier institute. It seems that the government has ignored the Kashmir division and the major branches have been assigned to the SCERT office in Jammu division.
The government has not equally distributed the academic branches in the two offices. The curriculum development which was earlier done at Srinagar has been shifted to Jammu. All the subjects such as social sciences, humanities and other subjects given to Jammu while as only Mathematics and Science given to Kashmir.
All other important components like teacher education, early childhood care and development have also been shifted to Jammu as well. The government seems to be unfair in division of components and the Srinagar office of SCERT has been assigned framing of curriculum of only a few subjects- Science and Mathematics, which are universally taught to the students.
By doing this, the government has created a regional divide and also created a sense of negativity among the academicians over the functioning of this institution. The establishment of this institute was seen to give an impetus to the teaching community including teachers, lecturers and masters giving their efforts to bring positive changes in the education scenario. But the biased approach of the government has played a spoilsport. The move is completely disheartening and disappointing. Politicization of this academic institute is uncalled-for. It will not only create a regional divide among masses but will also tell upon the functioning of this institute.
SCERT, being the apex academic authority of the J&K UT is mandated to assist and advise the government in implementation of policies and programmes for human resource development in the field of education, human and child development and national integration on the analogy of NCERT.
The role of SCERT is to prescribe curricula and textbooks for the school and teacher training institutions besides producing instructional materials for the use of teacher-educators. But to make things happen, the government should have equally distributed the branches and other components in the two divisions-Jammu and Kashmir.
It would have helped the authorities engage the teaching community to work in their relevant fields, but the biased approach of the government has marred the enthusiasm of the teaching community that has been left disheartened and disappointed with the biased distribution of academic branches. It seems, as is alleged, that the government has some hidden agenda behind the unfair distribution of academic branches.
The establishment of SCERT was a remarkable decision, so the government should come out of this prejudice and fulfill the interests of both the divisions. That will pave the way for the success of this institution.
The government should not play with the emotions of the people, rather should make this institution a key factor in improving the otherwise ailing academic scenario in J&K.
If things are not streamlined early, this premier institute will become victim of dirty politics played over the distribution of academic branches. Let this institution be spared of dirty politics and let this institutions not be used to create a sense of discrimination.
The SCERT has the mandate to look after various aspects of curriculum development, health and physical education, guidance and counselling and inclusive and special education.
The SCERT is an autonomous body, recognized by National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE), for admission, curriculum construction, course conduct, guidance, examination and certification of pre-service training program in the area of pre-primary teacher education and elementary education.
The basic objective of SCERT is to match the quality of education and academic standards with private schools. It will also be prescribing curricula and textbooks for the school and teacher training institutions besides producing instructional materials for the use of teacher-educators.
It has taken almost three years for the J&K government to make this institution functional in J&K since it was approved by the MHRD in 2017.
So given the importance of this institution, the government should revisit its decision on allocation of academic branches to the two divisions and make use of this institution for welfare of the students as well as the teaching community. Let this institution be used to improve the academics rather than creating hatred and the sense of insecurity among the teaching community of the education department.