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Panchayat control of primary education has teachers up in arms

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The Pioneer
Feb 18, 2013

The Government’s efforts to provide powers to rural elected bodies and give control of primary education to panchayati raj institutions may face a serious hurdle. Teachers have expressed their unhappiness with the decision and decided to lodge a protest.

“We oppose the circular in its entirety. But there are some sections on which we have serious reservations,” said president of All Jharkhand Primary Teachers’ Association (AJPTA) Arvind Kumar Singh.

The human resource development (HRD) department issued a circular comprising three sections and 19 subsections on Saturday, transferring power to PRIs in matters of controlling “funds, function and functionaries” of primary schools, teachers and education.

Teachers have serious issues with section B of the circular. “Subsections IV, IV and XI come under section B,” said Rammurti Thakur, general secretary of AJPTA. Subsection IV makes the village panchayat the “controlling authority of primary teachers” and says “they will work under the panchayats”.

Subsection IX notes that the mukhia of the panchayat will have authority to “certify the presence of teachers” in schools and also “sanction leaves to teachers” and “attest their official trips”. Subsection XI says village panchayats will have the authority to recommend “small punishments” for erring teachers.

The AJPTA general secretary says these provisions are in conflict with the existing service codes and finance rules. “How can somebody have controlling authority over a Government employee if they themselves are not Government office-bearers? And how can a non-Government person like a mukhia recommend punishment for us?”

Thakur asked, “A mukhia will have to sit in school for the entire day if he/she has to see whether we are in school or just make attendance and leave. Is it possible?” He feared mukhias would misuse this power in personal grudges against any teacher.

Thkur feels PRIs in the State are still not mature enough. “Don’t office-bearers know that mukhias can be made to write anything about us just by a bribe of Rs 100 or even less? PRIs are not aware of what their powers and rights are or how they should utilise them for positive purposes,” he said.

The general secretary added that these kinds of provisions would make bribes rampant in primary education. “To ensure that mukhias do not get angry with us, we will have to bribe them and their family because 50 per cent of mukhias are women and their work is done by their husband or sons. We will have to keep them happy as well,” he pointed out.

Para-teachers are also against the provisions. “It is not good if mukhias decide the matter of our leaves and recommend punishment for us,” said a para-teacher from Bundu.

AJPTA has decided to write a letter to the Governor’s advisors, requesting them to take a relook at the circular. “PRI can be a monitoring body but how can it be controlling body?” Thakur sought to know.

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