he education and the department of human resource is always a hot topic in Kashmir valley but from last one month it has been more. It is being discussed at every nook and corner, from top to bottom and by every Tom, Dick and Harry. There has been three trending topics which were discussed by the people in the print media, electronic media and most importantly by the social media with regard to the education and the education department in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
The three topics were:
a) Why the teacher of the government school is the private school parent?
b) The enrollment drive by the department of school education and the hype related to it.
c) The rumour that the parents whose wards are in the private schools may lose the BPL ( Below Poverty Line) Ration card and associated benefits.
In a democratic setup every body is free to express his or her opinion as the ‘freedom of speech and expression’ is a fundamental right. But to force one’s thought and opinion over others is less tolerated in a vibrant democractic society.
Let us first talk about the topic, ‘ why the teacher of a government school is the parent in the private school’. There is a big brigade in valley who are of the opinion that the condition of the government schools are worsing day by day because the teachers are enrolling their wards in the private schools hence are not taking pains. This brigade is now propagating the thought that those government employees who are working as teachers in the government schools ought to admit their wards in the government schools, as it is their moral obligation hence must be compulsory for them. The strength of brigade is increasing day by day and are making their voice louder by each passing day.
Before making any judgement, this brigade must know that the teachers are in the department because they deserve to be there. They should first understand the process of recruitment of teachers and the degrees they have on the basis of which they are selected. Their job is not a favour which the government is bestowing to the teachers and in lieu of which the teachers have to enroll their wards in the government schools. It is not a give and take business.The teachers are just the employees like the employees of other departments, who are actually selling their services and against the services they are receiving the fixed salary.
The teachers in our part of the world are the underpaid workers. Teaching is the most difficult job in the entire world. To design the human resource one needs the craft, passion, courage, dedication and will. In the actual process the teachers are not workers but the artists who are designing and shaping the future of the country.
It is and always must be the free will of the teacher to enroll his or her child or ward the school of his/ her choice without any pressure and without associating his profession with the education of his/ her child/ward. But the teachers too must understand that, it is their fundamental to be concerned and faithful to his profession and work hard to promote the quality education of all those who are enrolled in their schools. There are enough example in the department which needs to be followed for the promotion of good and quality education. The education sector is very crucial and there is hardly any chance and choice for compromise.
The second topic which too was much discussed in the social media was the enrollment drive. Under this enrollment drive the directorate of school education Kashmir started a successful campaign by which a good number of new students were enrolled in the government schools. In the media there was a great hype with regard to this process.
In the social media the government school teachers made every attempt to support this process and some times even defamed the private schools too in their over enthusiasm. They left no stone unturned by making huge claims of the facilities available in the government schools and the dedication and qualifications of the staff working there.
It is the professional ethic of the teacher working in the government school to work and support the enrollment drive of those students who are not enrolled anywhere and are willing to educate themselves. Elementary education is a fundamental right and no child should be deprived from this fundamental right. We hope that all these new students along with all those who were already there may get the promised quality education from the highly qualified teachers with best degrees and all necessary trainings. But to discourage the private schools is nowhere a professional ethic. It is good to have both government as well as private schools working side by side. It encourages the competition and the competition is always good for a healthy society.
The third topic was regarding with those parents who’s wards are in the private schools but are BPL card holders. A few days back, the social media was abuzz with the news that ” All those parents whose wards are in the private schools may lose their BPL status”. A lot of people, many among them were government school teachers, shared this news without any confirmation hence created choas and confusion among many parents.
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I tried my best to get any authentic news or any official order from the UT administration about this buzz but all in vain. At last I got the information that it was village Panchayat decision taken in Himachal Pradesh in 2019 and is not related to the Jammu and Kashmir.
It was actually the, Sikander Rana, the Panchayat Pradhan of the Pander Panchayat in the Nurpur area of Himachal Pradesh who discussed the topic that” If you can afford to educate your child at a private school, should you be entitled to facilities extended by the government for those living below poverty line (BPL) and finally issued a warning in April 2019 that “Those parents whose children are in private schools could lose the status (BPL) and subsequent benefits”
The Panchayat decision was totally unrealistic, authoritarian, coercive, sadistic and biased. The government can not deny it’s citizens the fundamental rights by prioritising one over the other.
The constitution of India declares India a “Socialist” country and by socialist we mean that the government will try it’s best ‘ to uplift the below trodden and to minimise the gap between the rich and the poor. Under the philosophy of socialism, the rich are taxed so that the poor may get benefits under different social welfare schemes.
The government is bound to provide the basic and necessary services to its people like education, health and food security, so that they may have every opportunity available for their welfare and development.
The concept of basic necessities of human life has widened with the passage of time. In the traditional times, there used to be only three basic needs i.e. food, shelter and clothing ( Roti, Kapda our Makaan) but now more needs have been included in this category that is health, education, drinking water, roads and electricity ( Sehat, Taleem, Pani, Sadak our Bijlii). It is the prime responsibility of the government of the day to provide all these necessities so that the people may live the decent human life. It has been found that if one of the above mentioned need is denied the whole formula of life goes out of the track hence becomes useless.
It is not possible for a modern democratic government to issue a directive like this and, under which only one option is provided, that is, to choose one among the two basic needs that is the fundamental right of education or the basic need of bread or we can say food security.
It would be a total injustice to all those parents who work very hard to provide the education of their choice to their loved ones but are in the category of BPL.
A parent with a BPL ration card is always genuine in his/her claim and right when he or she is enrolling his or her child in the school of their choice. It is their individual freedom ensured, by the fundamental law of the land, and it must be respected at any cost.
By going through all these topics it becomes imperative for the government that if it is really concerned for the welfare of its less privileged people, students and the government schools, then more than the coercive measures, let the government initiate certain reforms which are more academic and administrative in nature like the change in syllabus, better infrastructure, modern laboratories, digital libraries, sufficient staff, indoor and outdoor playgrounds, accountability and strict academic calendar in the government schools. If followed with good faith, these things will shape the government schools in a better way and not only the BPL ration card holders we are sure the APL ration card holders too may enroll their wards in these schools.
Masood Ali Mir is a freelancer and a social activist and can be mailed at email@example.com