Azad Hussain

Do away with ‘Non-teaching assignments’ for teachers!

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Any teaching staff with ‘non-teaching assignments’ looses focus on the primary job  

With the introduction of a volley of schemes that are meant for education sector, the government school teachers in Jammu and Kashmir, like in other states, now have to shoulder additional burden of non-teaching assignments which, in turn, hampers the smooth teaching learning process and thus affects the academic performance of students.

In addition to the main assignment of ‘teaching’ for a professional teacher, some incumbent  duties including maintaining the attendance registers, admission registers and results etc are pretty justifiable duties but various other extra assignments which are being assigned to the teaching community is unfair. Be it elections, census, house hold surveys for data collection, Mid Day Meals duty, execution of civil works etc,  everything is now being assigned to teachers who carry out these additional charges themselves or have to oversee them.

Even some teachers who have been assigned with BLO duty have to update the electoral rolls periodically besides being frequently  asked by the district election officers to attend important meetings in this regard and have been continuously carrying out  this duty over the years by the order of district election officers. However by the intervention of ex-education minister, Chief Secretary ran a few paper horses to exempt teachers from election duties- all in vain!

No one disagrees that developing infrastructure is a necessary part of all schools and most of the government schools are in need of upgradation. In view of this scenario, the  construction works for many elementary school buildings, additional class rooms, kitchen sheds, toilets and school walls taken up by SSA was a  good move to overcome the dearth of accommodation and to put in place necessary facilities, but responsibility to the teachers to oversee the whole construction process is absolutely out of context and a flawed strategy.

The elementary teachers in government schools, who should be busy with teaching, have to spend more time with contractors, engineers, masons and carpenters while they carry out the civil works and have to keep a watch on the entire construction process from the beginning till the end. It is the teachers who have to play experts and ensure that no substandard material is used, what an irony!

The construction work which  should not have been the responsibility of teachers and was supposed to be taken up by the Village Education Committees (VECs) as per the guidelines of SSA scheme, but the  ground reality is that the whole burden of such activities lies on the shoulders of a teacher.

In those elementary schools where there are only a few teacher’s and the non-teaching assignments are massive, such teachers hardly find any time to spent with students for the purpose of teaching learning process. Those teachers, due to their engagement with preparation of documents and statements  for onward submission to higher ups to ensure proper execution of responsibilities, frequently sought by the authorities have to  skip most of the classes.

The Mid Day Meals (MDM) scheme,  an intervention of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, now the  name has been changed to Samagra Shiksha , is another big load on the shoulders of teachers as all the arrangements including lifting of rice from rice depot , purchasing vegetables, pulses and spices, then getting  the meals prepared by the cook, serving the same to students and keeping a proper watch on the whole process is the responsibility of the teacher incharge of MDM. The teacher whose identification was the pen and  marker,  is however, nowadays identified easily  while you happen to see him carrying a bag of vegetables or standing outside a queue for rice.

Not only that, the MDM incharge teacher has to record the daily expenses on a register besides sending the information through SMS to the higher ups on daily basis. Towards the end of each month the teacher spends at least a few days on consolidation of daily based expenses to prepare total month’s MDM expenditure in the form of a statement on prescribed format, which needs to be submitted to Zonal Education Office as a hard copy in person.

One cannot deny the importance or significance of many schemes, nut the very execution is utterly flawed and needed to be reevaluated in order to ensure that a teacher has enough time to attend to his/her basic duty and students are benefitted.

Though the government claimed, several times till date, that MDM would be out sourced to some NGOs who would carry out all the arrangements for MDM in order to free teachers from this huge burden, but  so far no such arrangements are apparent and  all the claims have fallen flat.

You can’t believe that the roll statements- category based, gender based, Aadhar/ non Addhar based, are sought from the department often and for which teachers stay preparing for most of the time. Not only that, teachers are also asked to survey the localities to find out if there is any child with special needs, dropout children or children who are never enrolled.

One wonders if everything is digitalized in this modern age, why it happens only with education department that  if  the data is collected annually, through DISE ( District Information System Of Education) and through Shaalasiddi  (online format), to update  the  database for the portals,  then why they  ask the teachers to submit the same information again and again throughout the year, hence consuming most of the time of teachers.

In the department of education, the load of non-teaching assignments is so high that the Academic Monitors, the subject specific  teachers who have been deputed  to offer academic support to schools and update the higher ups with the progress in academics in the schools,  have been kept busy by ZEOs   concerned to carry out the non-teaching assignments due to heavy overburden of it. They are mostly seen doing the tasks concerned with establishment and accounts sections. Even some teachers have been deputed to zones for the same purpose, which is otherwise not their concern.

Till the huge burden of non-teaching assignments remains like this, progress in schools is very difficult.

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