Madhya Pradesh: Education department says non-academic duty against SC order

BHOPAL: Pressing teachers into poll-related duty is again turning out to be a point of difference between the school education department and the district administration. The school education department contends that the 2007 Supreme Court (SC) order states the government school teachers cannot be asked to skip classes and undertake non-academic activities like election duty and census work.
Facing shortage of teachers, the education department wants a blanket ban on attaching teachers to other duties, the district administration, which faces shortage of booth-level officers, wants teachers to shoulder extra duties.
Sources in the department said directorate of public instructions (DPI) time and again urged district collector to relieve teachers of poll- bound duties, something which was hardly ever paid heed to.
“It is a major issue that needs to be addressed at the earliest. The teachers fail to complete prescribed school syllabus, which gets reflected in poor results of Class 10 and 12. It is extra work that teachers are assigned apart from teaching, impacting the quality of school education,” source said.

DPI commissioner Neeraj Dubey agreed teachers are assigned election-related duties in addition to teaching work. He said, “It is a clear violation of SC orders, which the district administration needs to understand. It is hampering teaching process to a large extent and, in the given situation, lowering quality of education is inevitable.”
He said the department has been asking that teachers be relieved of non-academic work, but in vain.
The DPI described the decision of assigning non-academic work to teachers as arbitrary and objected to Bhopal collector’s order of deploying government school teachers for election-related duty. In 2007, the SC had upheld teaching staff shall be put on roll revision and election duty only during holidays and non-teaching days. It held teachers should not ordinarily be given this duty on teaching days and during teaching hours. The SC order dated December 6, 2007 had stated only services of non-teaching school staff could be utilised for such duties. “Holding an election is no doubt of paramount importance. For this purpose, children’s education cannot be neglected. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain a balance between the two,” the court held. Speaking to TOI, newly-appointed collector Bhopal Sudam P Khade said “We have assigned the job of making IDs of new voters to employees of other departments as well, but we are still facing a shortage. Therefore, we were bound to attach teachers for this duty.” “It should be noted that we haven’t asked teachers to leave aside their primary job. We urged them to pay 100% attention to their academic work and then spare time for extra work during vacant hours,” the collector asserted.
He said the administration has to strike a balance between the two.

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