Non- performing teachers could lose their job – Alok Kumar
by Bashir Assad
Alok Kumar, Principal Secretary, Department of Education, discusses changes in policy to improve education in J&K.
“The department is busy creating jobs and subsequently managing the transfers, which, among other things, promotes the culture of corruption and favouritism, costing the children their future.” – Alok Kumar
The Department of Education’s misplaced priorities has had an adverse impact on the
education system in Jammu and Kashmir. The focus has to be on imparting quality education rather than on recruiting a large number of teachers. The education sector is perceived as a source of employment generation, which is detrimental to the overall quality of teaching.
In an exclusive interview with Kashmir Central, the department’s Principal Secretary Alok Kumar (IRS) gave a detailed account of his plans to overhaul the education system in the Union Territory. He admitted that the education system and the department had been distracted from the true path because of the misplaced priorities.
“Employability is very important. Absorbing unemployed educated in the education department has done a great deal in providing sustainable livelihood to a large number of educated persons across the union territory, which is good. But, at the same time, we need to have an honest evaluation of whether we have been able to provide quality education to our children, on par with other parts of the country,” Kumar told Kashmir Central.
The department, Kumar said, had not been as vibrant in providing quality education to our
children as it should have been. The government circulars and orders, which could have helped in fixing the problems that have persisted for a long time in the department, had been flouted frequently. The rules of conduct and responsibility are being compromised by vested interests on some pretext or the other. “The department is busy creating jobs and subsequently managing the transfers, which, among other things, promotes the culture of corruption and favouritism, costing the children their future,” Kumar said.
The spirit to serve had been subdued by the individual interests of the teaching fraternity, he alleged. What needs to be prioritized, among other things, is the quality of education in the government schools, he said. An environment of learning needs to be created in the schools, he added. The children in the Kashmir Valley are particularly sharp and they need to be guided properly, he said. They are intelligent enough to differentiate between evil and good, we cannot afford to communicate with them using preconceived notions. Kumar said that we need to give exposure to the children who have been cocooned by certain thought processes. “Let’s expose them to them to the outer world, make them capable of differentiating between good and bad,” he added.
Kumar said that radical changes were required to bring the education system on track, but the changes had to be gradual and incremental. “The drawbacks of 70 years can’t be addressed in one go but we need to act now.” Elaborating on his statement, Kumar said that he had decided that his office would not promote the transfer culture. “There has to be a transfer policy which should be adhered to in letter and spirit but I have left it to the directors of school education in both the divisions. Let them effect the transfers not at their will but strictly in accordance with the policy I have formulated. I have conveyed in unambiguous terms to both the directorates in Srinagar and Jammu that no case whatsoever regarding the transfers should come to my table. I would rather address the grievances, if any, related to the transfers effected by the directorates.” He also said that mid-session transfers will not be allowed. On no grounds whatsoever shall premature transfers be accepted, he added.
Teachers should focus on Imparting education to the students rather than have to deal with
transfers, he said. He reiterated that no excuses were acceptable. A teacher has to impart
education with conviction to the students wherever he or she is posted. Any carelessness will not be tolerated . One who is not ready to perform his duties where he or she is asked to serve should quit the job, Kumar said.
He was categorical that the education department should be absolutely free from politics. “I am here to execute the universal education policy which is in place in the entire country. I don’t know how long I will be holding this chair but as long as I do, I will see to it that the students of Jammu and Kashmir have access to the same quality education as in other parts of the country.
I am pained to see that our students though sharp and intelligent are deprived of the avenues and opportunities for better education. My focus is on the education of my students, I do not want to manage the transfers of the teachers,” Kumar said.
Spelling out his vision for quality education in Jammu and Kashmir, Kumar said that he would promote the culture of smart classes and would gradually move towards communication classes that will be conducted by experts. “Our objective is to enhance the ability to teach and the vigour to learn. My students should be able to communicate with experts in every subject,” he added.
Talking about the culture of personal aggrandizement in the region, he said that for
government servants, there was only one choice – to work with honesty and dedication or leave the job. The government, Kumar said, paid salaries to its employees in order to improve the services for its citizens. The employees are answerable to the government and will be held accountable for non-performance. Education is universally deemed as a solution to the problems of mankind, irrespective of whether the problems are political, social or economic in nature, he said.
If problems persist in our society that means those who have been tasked with the job of educating the people have failed and as such, they should be held responsible for their non-performance, he added.