Ban on private tuitions a challenge, opportunity for teachers
Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary
We grew up in a remote village going to a single-room building housing the Primary School later upgraded to middle standard where 2-3 teachers would deliver the task of nation building with classes run in open and a bad weather or little downpour would mean a holiday. The ecstasy of joining High School and Higher Secondary School was short-lived as it was marred by the pain of walking more than 8-10Km every day; some of us opted for moving to the town, some opted to work in fields and many dropped out for various reasons. The Higher Secondary School located at the base of mighty Pir-Panchal Ranges would be the hub of all activity – a dozen teachers, higher classes, aspiring students, small tea-stalls and shops coming up around. One thing kept us all going and motivated was a set of dedicated, committed, well-qualified and zealous teachers, many would were nightmares given the strictness and hard discipline.
Almost all the students were first generation literates, barring few wards of government employees, and the only stake was on teachers. Crossing flooded rivulets or wilder areas would also appear as a part of the game. Most of the teachers were non-locals. Some would teach the students in evening in turn of rent-free accommodation. Years later we were doctors, engineers, IAS, police officers, teachers, businessmen and in many other professions. When I look back, in 17 years after we passed out of Higher Secondary School things have changed — massive infrastructure under Sarva Shiksha Abhyan, Rashtrya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhyan, State Schemes, Model Schools, Modernisation of Laboratories and Libraries, IT Education and so on. The human resource viz-a-viz teaching faculty has also seen massive surge with State having nearly 1.25 lakh teachers i.e. more than 100 per cent increase. Right to Education and material support for education too have continued to improve over a period of time.
One thing has certainly deteriorated which needs to be explained by us all-administrators, teachers, students, parents and all stakeholder–is poor educational standards, bad results, weak teaching-learning process and visible lack of that commitment and zeal, with many exceptions though. During same period the commercialisation of education also ran parallel not only in State but entire country apart from expansion of educational institutions. J and K has more than 95 Govt colleges, 142 private colleges, 750 Govt and private higher secondary schools and around 25,000 schools. More than 2,250 small and medium coaching centres are running active in addition to two dozen odd competitive coaching centres. Mushrooming of BEd and ETT colleges on commercial lines nevertheless was an eye-opener.
Education system in State has evolved on many fronts but likewise many concerns and issues cropped up which are seen as ailing the nation building profession. Respect, honour, status, position of any profession cannot be granted by Govt orders or by statutes but it is earned through sweat and blood. There are still hundreds of teachers in villages and hinterland working with selfless dedication which makes it possible for us to see brighter students, professionals, experts and toppers in various fields emerging from places unheard of. Commercialisation of education and deteriorating educational standards have driven the recent policy changes and even prompting the Courts to intervene for streamlining the teaching-learning system at various levels.
The recent order prohibiting government teachers from taking any other assignment including tuitions and coaching without prior permission has been called into controversy in some quarters without much consideration. Such a directive has come after 12 years of executive process started with ban on tuition in 2005 and judicial scrutiny at the level of High Court followed by the matter landing up in Supreme Court. The matter has now been settled by Supreme Court. Private assignments can’t be taken up by government servants is a settled law.
Service rules are an agreement between the employer and employees which is a universal truth. All public servants are governed by notified Service Rules and Conduct Rules. Even an IAS or All India Service Officer is not allowed to take up any other assignment than such responsibilities entrusted upon him by the government. S/he has to seek prior permission for even being a member of trust or society to say the least. Every other thing remains under regulated scrutiny be it accepting a gift, earning some money, purchasing/disposing a property. One has the option of going on sabbatical or seeking leave for pursuing permitted job options. Likewise, no profession is expected to work in conflict of interest. A government teacher employed in a school running a coaching centre could be seen like an SDM dealing in real-estate by facilitating land sale-purchase or a cop mediating in crimes after duty hours.
(To be continued)