Assam Education Minister Ranoj Pegu is definitely right in saying that monitoring the attendance of school teachers and students was not a punitive measure but a corrective step.
Assam Education Minister Ranoj Pegu is definitely right in saying that monitoring the attendance of school teachers and students was not a punitive measure but a corrective step. It is a fact that a section of teachers, though very small in size, has been opposing the introduction of the Shiksha Setu portal, through which the government has endeavoured to keep a watch on the attendance of both teachers and students. While efforts have been made to ensure regular attendance of school students, what has become a major deterrent is the tendency among a section of teachers to remain absent by taking advantage of a non-existent monitoring system. Assam’s education system has been plagued with several problems for the past several decades. There was a time when there was no system for recruiting teachers. Because of this, hundreds of people with poor academic records were selected as teachers. Moreover, successive governments in the state had not bothered to frame a proper teacher recruitment policy. Likewise, successive regimes had also failed to strengthen the teacher training facilities, which in turn led to a large number of teachers remaining untrained and therefore misfit for the teaching job. Lack of monitoring on the part of the government has also led to the deterioration of the environment in educational institutions. Every district and sub-division in Assam has an inspector or sub-inspector of schools, whose primary task is to carry out inspection in the schools so that the students are assured of the best possible education by way of providing qualified and trained teachers, as well as the best of facilities like desks and benches, toilets, drinking water, and playgrounds, to name a few. Any random check will show that inspectors have not seen many of the schools lying within their jurisdiction. Instead, the officer is ‘busy’ running his office. No wonder the offices of the Inspector of Schools across the state have earned the notoriety of being dens of corruption. While the Education Minister has done well by taking steps to ensure regular attendance of teachers, there is also a need for the education minister to find time out from his “busy schedule” and make sudden and unannounced visits to different schools so that he can find out for himself how exactly the schools are running. Many schools, even within a two- or three-kilometre radius of Dispur, do not have good drinking water and toilet facilities. Moreover, many schools do not have enough desks and benches in the classrooms, not to mention blackboards, fans, and adequate lights. A surprise visit by the minister to such schools will definitely make a huge difference.