Kashmir is an amazing place where people play politics over education and teachers.The indifferent and irresponsible attitude of the authorities affects the passion and performance of the teachers, leaving their hard work unrewarded for them.
So amazing is the situation that the work culture has come to mean doing only those tasks which bring profit in kind or cash. In this culture of choosing just one’s priorities, one ignores the tasks which bring him no profit and which are useful to somebody else.
An example, thousands of elementary school teachers are without salaries from four months. But the timely release of their salaries is no priority.
During their tumultuous rule from March 2015 to June 2018 in J&K, the Peoples Democratic Party and BharatiyaJanata Party alliance government did something ambitious for JK school education: the coalition government provided for Winter Tutorial Programme called Chief Minister’s Super Fifty Programme for the government school children.
Accordingly the students of secondary and higher secondary schools were imparted tuition during winter vacations. So far three such programmes have been held during winter vacations.
To facilitate each winter tutorial programme, thousands of teachers- regardless of their postings and positions in the department- were directed to teach at different tuition centres established by a District administration at suitable places for the students.
Denying the order would incur official wrath for a teacher. Yet, most teachers with influence or affluence managed to avoid this important duty. These teachers enjoyed the winter vacations (which lasts for about three months here) at home.
Some of them did private tuitions comfortably at tuition centres while a majority of them went out of the valley for warmer climate.
Several teachers obeyed the order and took the responsibility of teaching at the winter tutorial centres. Point to note is that most of these teachers, taken from the elementary schools, were without salaries for months together. Still they responded positively.
To compensate for the winter teaching service, the authorities were required to record this service in the service records of the teachers concerned so that they get leave salary at the time of their retirement.
As per the Civil Service Rules (CSR) of the state, the employees, not availing winter vacation,are eligible for leave salary benefits at retirement. All the other employees get the benefits, besides their due salaries, for not availing winter vacations.
However, it is inconsistent with the principles of justice and the codal norms in vogue that no formal order has been issued to provide for the leave salary for the teaching personnel who have taught at the winter tutorials. They availed no winter vacation.
Agreed that the winter tutorial of year 2015- 2016 was formally recorded in the service books of the teaching personnel who attended the tutorials. This service period will hopefully be compensated with remuneration at the time of retirement of these teachers.
It is the winter teaching periods of year 2016- 2017 and 2017- 2018 which are hanging in the balance. No formal order has been issued till today to record the service period of these two winter sessions of the teachers in their service books.
If this duty goes unrecorded, the teachers will get no benefit at all at their retirement though they have performed the duty in the winter months, availing no winter vacation.
Granted that the authorities may not have forgotten this winter teaching of the teachers and the formal order may come immediately, it is a mystery to delay the order. Why delay what is due to the teachers who have performed the duty, bearing harsh winter days?
As a result, the victim teachers are very disappointed and shocked. They feel humiliated and cheated. They were hopeful that they would earn leave salary (by attending the winter tutorials) to be compensated at their retirement as per the CSR.
But that seems a distant dream because this service has not been recorded in their service books in the absence of any formal order in this regard from the higher authorities.
Many winter teachers would cover some ten kilometres daily during the winter chill to reach a winter tutorial centre. Some would come foodless after having spent their hard-earned money as the travel fare.
The only hope was to get this hard service period recorded in their service books.However, nothing such has happened. As a result, these teachers feel that their hard work has gone waste.
They too could have used the winter vacation to do some work to support their families. The elementary school teachers (who get no salaries for months together) could have earned some money during these winter months to keep away poverty.
But they could not because they remained busy with this winter teaching programme of the government only to get nothing but disappointment at the end.
It is about time the authorities issued an order to record the previous two winter tutorial sessions in the service books of the teachers who availed no winter vacations and instead taught at the tutorials.
No such order will add a bad chapter to the history of the Department of School Education and set a bad example of justice. Do not treat these teachers badly. They have done their duty which must be rewarded.