Unity Village, Dimapur
It is nothing new that the Government teachers are crucified every year after the declaration of the HSLC result and the Department of School Education is butchered and buried alive. The Department officers are cursed by every human that breathes and has a mouth. Do we even realize that we have more bodies who should be shouldering more responsibility? Do we ever analyze the factors responsible for the undesirable result? Whose fault do you think it is? Are we being one sided in our judgment? Observing rather than judging will definitely reflect the real image.
We have seen the recently declared HSLC & HSSLC result for both the Government and private schools. Communitization Act was introduced in 2002 with the primary aim to improve academic result in Nagaland, if we understand the concept of the Act. With due respect to the former Chief Secretary RS Pandey, IAS the brain child behind this Act, the SMCs (formerly VECs) were empowered to act in partnership with the Department. He firmly believed that community-based ownership of schools would bring changes in the academic result of Government schools since Nagas have a strong social life with powerful Hohos, associations, unions etc… Sadly, this is the 15th year of communitization and now we have proved him wrong. The SMCs (School Management Committes) thought their role was only for school construction purpose and only few SMCs played the academic role by arranging private Teachers through community sponsorship, controlling proxy practice and undertook academic interventions. These handful of SMCs deserve the highest respect for exemplary community ownership.
Do we know that the Department spends crores of Rupees for Teachers’ training every year? Lately, the decade old practices have been replaced by introducing new system following national standard interventions through SSA. Due to frequent modifications and changes in the system, Teachers are being oriented prior to introduction of anything in the schools. But what happens in the implementation process? The fact remains that no school has proxy system without the permission of SMCs. Who is responsible when the Department’s effort for academic improvement is thrown into the dustbin? The SSA sponsors In-service Teachers’ training, training for newly recruited teachers and conducts even professional training. The Department has conducted CCE training earlier and enough of phase-wise New Pedagogy trainings. Besides the above mentioned training programs, PINDICS and Shaala Siddhi have been conducted in the month of December 2016. This was followed by Maths kit training for teachers of primary section in all the 11 districts wef 15th to 31st May 2017. The next in the chart would be the conduct of ACL training (Activity Competency Learning) for which fund has been released by the State Mission Authority, SSA Nagaland. Thereafter, training for subject teachers of GMS section is anticipated. The crux of the matter is that original teachers attend training and untrained proxy teachers teach in the schools. Isn’t this a serious threat towards achieving quality education? Do we understand that the students are the ultimate losers when teachers stay away from schools after attending all the trainings?
Why do we maintain balanced diet for children and offer different doses of vaccine? We all know what happens to a child in later part of life due to lack of vaccination. A mal-nourished person’s immune system is prone to disease attack. We do fight back but it becomes a last fight for many and diseases take its toll. School is a place where we prepare a child for the future. Without nurturing children’s foundation appropriately in the primary and elementary levels, the public expect teachers to perform miracle after reaching HSLC level. Teachers are no Jesus and no student is a magician. State VIPs and Government officers may please take note that people develop vomiting sensation in your public speech when you talk about HSLC result without digesting the ground situation.
Encouraging the dedicated teacher is one important aspect of developing quality education therefore, teacher’s award should strictly go to deserving teachers only. After SIS posts were abolished under department restructuring few years back, overall academic activities are manned by ToTs alone (teacher trainers). ToTs have respective jurisdiction and observe classroom teaching with monitoring format. It will be a big lie should anyone claim to know teachers better than ToTs when it comes to assessment of teacher’s performance. Therefore it is strongly felt that some representatives be included in District Selection Committee so that nomination of awardee is practically appropriate and deserving.
Education department has a good collection of professionals under the sun. We talk about mandatory B.Ed because all teachers should be professionally trained as per RTE Act. Whereas if someone doesn’t get employed in one’s own department/profession, they end up becoming teachers. For instance, even the ToTs who did not have requisite qualification were sent back to schools during 2015-16. In fact, they were earlier appointed on the recommendation of SCERT following successful completion of intensive training conducted by academic authority. Besides, the department had invested lakhs of rupees on them for continuous workshop and orientation programs for decade plus years. Despite having adequate training experience, they were directly redeployed back to school from where they were drawn earlier. We can say they were not as fortunate as newly appointed teachers who were given a chance to pursue professional degree within a time frame. If so, it’s high time the department should come to a sense not to randomly accommodate everyone irrespective of one’s qualification such as BBA, MBA, engineers, theologians etc because we are talking about methodology, content-based and professional teaching. They are professionals but not professionally qualified for classroom teaching. Why should the recruitment standard be like issueless couples going for adoption?
Another category of appointment is the cost-high appointment which only some can afford, that is called backdoor appointment. I am saying this because it is not free of cost and many people I know have done that already. This kind of appointment is highly channelized and appointment order is received without even moving a single finger and without any inquiry on the professional qualification.
As per the RTE Act, the number of untrained teachers should rapidly decrease. Now the talk of literacy rate is not as hot as those days. The talk is shifted more towards professional qualification. Many states in India have drastically improved the number of trained teachers but Nagaland submits teachers’ data to Delhi with increasing number of untrained teachers every year. It is a matter of shame to be progressing backward despite SSA pumping funds for teachers professional course for decade plus years. It is too selfish on the part of the public to protest or fight against Government’s decision to recruit pre-trained candidates. Can we hear the voices of student bodies strongly coming out in support of Government for recruitment of professional teachers?
The talk of quota/provision/relaxation tops the chart for everything in Nagaland but Right to Education is an Act passed by Parliament and it is not a state subject. So there shouldn’t be any variation in teacher recruitment policy. How can quality education become the victim of RESERVATION and RELAXATION? Number of professionally untrained teachers shot up to thousands when Nagaland was faced with bogus appointment scam and subsequent re-appointment after SIT clearance. Untrained data were further enhanced due to backdoor appointment, recruitment of teachers from other professions and appointment with relaxation policy. The next category is the appointment against vacancies resulting due to death or retirement. Why enhance untrained problem when the department is already battling against the high number of untrained teachers’ data? What gain is there to appoint every Tom, Dick and Harry under the banner of relaxation and they later respond to the Government with proxies? If restriction is imposed on proxy keeping, either their undercover guards or political masters would come to their rescue. This is how the proxy system survives as timeless beauty in Nagaland.
The worst is mixing politics with education. Professionally, pre-trained candidates continue to remain jobless as backdoor appointments continue to hijack the system. Many keep proxy after appointment, apparently their joining of Education Department is not more than bread and butter purpose. Teaching is a noble profession and not only about earning a livelihood. One has to have a CALLING and passion. The department had a lot of expectations from student leaders. Nagas are to dwell in the same old ground for another 10-20 years should we remain as we are. Our local students’ union, area students’ union, respective tribal students’ bodies and the NSF should practically join hands with SMCs by taking lead role and not just a side back-up or verbal support on social media.
If schools have only proxy teachers teaching the children with original teacher out of sight, the Government may like to downgrade it to the NO GOVERNMENT TEACHER SCHOOLS but it would affect children’s right of free and compulsory education. What is stopping the SMCs and Government to act on legal document as a base for proxy control? All teachers have signed a statement in an affidavit few years back as directed by Government. That was actually a good strategy of the department and therefore it would be an important tool to streamline the system if affidavit exercise was done for a purpose. Secondly, introduction of biometric attendance of teachers may be considered another option to keep proxy at bay. Thirdly, we have a good number of proxy keeping teachers that is either the wives or children of influential people. I would say that they should be grateful to God that they have everything in life and not that their survival is dependent on the teacher’s salary shared with proxy. Our most respected state VIPs, Government officers, UGs and leaders could set an outstanding example by opting for voluntary retirement for their loved ones and pave the way for pre-trained unemployed youths lying in stagnation who are ready to teach on war footing. Fourthly, we are assured of better academic result if SMCs and student bodies cooperate with department and stand as a pillar of strength.
Should we say Communitization Act is a total failure because communitizing the schools didn’t bear fruit in the last 15 years? If all SMCs were faithful partners of the Education department, solution to proxy tradition should have been much better and we would be getting better result today. A child of Class I in 2002 (Communitized year) passed his/her matriculation in 2013. Students of Class I in 2006 appeared HSLC this year and we have seen the results just few weeks back. If Community Empowerment doesn’t work, what is it do we think could bring about salvation? Government on its part should also own responsibility for those schools with shortages of teachers especially for subjects like Science and Mathematics in High Schools. Delayed distribution of text books for elementary and primary sections seriously hampers academic exercise because students’ performances are evaluated strictly according to 3 quarters as per the CCE pattern. The department should stop relaxation policy and recruit only those professional diploma/degree holders in education at least by now. If someone is pre-trained, it should be understood that he/she is definitely interested and ready to teach hence, a double edged sword. I saw a beautiful quote somewhere that says “India is not developed because it employs the RESERVED ONES whereas, America is developed because it offers job to DESERVED ONES”. On the other hand, no one can take the place of students if they don’t invest hard work and the role of parents is no exception. Everyone should own responsibility without shifting responsibility. Quality education and quality result is a joint responsibility of teachers, learners, parents, Education Department, SMCs and students’ unions. Success or failure of a student should be viewed from all the angles.