Altaf Bukhari rolls out fresh initiatives to minimize disruption of academic activities

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Teachers relieved of non-teaching assignments; Engineering Wing in Deptt, outsourcing MDM to NGOs proposed; Regulation of SSA salaries assured; Remedial classes to start soon; Better sanitation facilities in schools to be ensured; Only ReTs with degrees from study centers to undergo screening test

JAMMU, MARCH 24: Rolling out fresh initiatives to bring school education back on track, the Minister for Education Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari today said   the government has decided to relieve teachers from all non-teaching assignments including elections, census and other off-beat responsibilities within the department to minimize the interruption of academic activities.

“We want to provide teachers congenial atmosphere and minimize disruption of academic activities. After brainstorming and thorough deliberations it has been felt that the teachers should be allowed to concentrate on primary goal of imparting education and for that they should be relieved of all other duties,” the Education Minister told reporters at a well-attended press conference here this morning.   Minister of State for Education, Priya Sethi was also present on the occasion.

Mr Bukhari said this would also provide teachers enough time to compensate the loss of studies due to certain situations – like the one Kashmir was embroiled in last year. “I am of the opinion that teachers are the custodian of our future. Need of the hour is to restore their dignity and honor by relieving them of all duties other than academic activities,” the Minister asserted. He said the objective of these reforms is to reinforce a sense of accountability and ownership of the schools among the teaching fraternity.

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“For this teachers would be exempted of election, census and other like duties. To begin with, about 80% teachers deployed for BLO duties have been exempted for the bye-polls being held in Kashmir,” the Minister informed. He said the decision would be conveyed to the Divisional Commissioner of Jammu as well to end the practice here also.

“The involvement of teachers with construction works under different educational schemes is a continuous drain on their time and energies. The department is examining the proposal for creation of a separate works division,” he said and added; “We are also exploring the possibility to execute the Mid Day Meal Scheme through NGOs.”  He said schools would also be provided some alternative to deal with accountancy and relieve the teachers engaged with this task. He said focused attention would be laid on orientation training  held from time to time for teachers and  remedial teaching for the elementary  students who may get detained with the introduction of combined examination for class 5  and class 8  as the government has done away with the ‘No detention policy’.

He said government, particularly Chief Minister, Mehbooba  Mufti is very particular about  better amenities including sanitation, toilets, safe drinking water and power in government schools . Mr. Bukhari said strict instructions have been issued to complete all required works in this regard at the earliest.

Asserting that the government has full faith in the ability of the teachers, the Minister said that the screening test would be restricted to only 1 percent of the ReTs, who have secured degrees from study centers. “Out of 41000 ReTs only around 500 ReTs have to undergo screening test as directed by the Honb’le High Court. The test will be based on eighth standard syllabus and they will be given two chances,” he said. The Minister further said that implementation of SRO-66 regarding assessment of the quality of degrees got through distance mode for promotions in education department has been kept in abeyance. He said this order was passed pursuant to cabinet decision of 2012 which required every department to notify the mechanism. The Minister also assured the release of pending salaries under SSA, describing it as a chronic problem confronting the department and a genuine grievance of teaching community.

He said the problem faced by the teachers working under SSA due to non-payment of salaries is a serious concern for one and all. “Since 2015-16, the State succeeded in convincing the GoI for 90:10 pattern in SSA funding. This year, due to substantial cut in the allocations of the MHRD, the Ministry could not provide adequate funds to JK.”

The Minister informed that against the approved Central allocation of Rs 1750 crore during the current fiscal (2016-17), an amount of Rs 1024.00 crore has been released by the GoI.  He said the Central Govt has already been requested to release the balance amount of Rs 726.00 crore to meet out the requirement of pending salary of the teachers since September 2016.

“I accompanied by Principal Secretary, School Education Mr Shaleen Kabra had a detailed interaction with the Union HRD Minister at New Delhi recently regarding the release of pending salary SSA teachers. The Union Minister agreed in principle to release the balance of Rs 726.00 crore out of which some funds are expected to be released shortly.”

The Minister also touched upon a range of other issues related to consolidation of infrastructure, issues and related to private schools including free regulation, Transfer policy, better sanitation in government schools with provision for safe drinking water, power supply and other related facilities, transfer policy, pay anomaly of masters regularization incharge officers of education department including Joint Directors and CEOs. He said confirmation and pay anomaly of masters and regularization of in-charge officers of Education Department are very genuine and justified demands which will be redressed on priority.

The Minister said the regularization of CEOs and Joint Directors was pending since 2007 and 2009 respectively. “In the first instance, department has prepared regularization proposal for JDs and CEOs clearing all vacancies which have became available till date. Remaining regularization proposals are also being finalized shortly,” he informed.

He said government is working on the modalities to resolve the demand of ReTs transfers and other issues.     He said some funds out of the Savings from Capital Budget will be utilized for meeting out the requirement of providing toilet facilities preferably in girls’ schools across the state.