Strange but true! Jammu and Kashmir Government has requisitioned the services of Criminal Investigation Department of the Police Organisation to have details of the schools where the pass percentage has been either zero or below 50 in the just announced results of 10th and 12th class examinations.
Criminal Investigation Department and Education Department are not synonymous to each other. One could wish the former to deal with criminals alone rather than those, who are being seen as future of the nation. By bringing CID into the picture, the Education Minister has inadvertently contradicted his strong posturing against Army Chief General Bipin Rawat’s observations over the state-of-affairs of the J&K schools.
Anyways, the Education Minister has exposed the incompetence of the government that cannot trust its own limbs and arms in furnishing the facts. Normally, the minister should have by now been abreast with all related information through the officers in the Education Department. Has he lost the control over his own department or is there any credibility deficit with the officers reporting him. This is a grave scenario and signal of failing educational system in Jammu and Kashmir. The parents of lakhs of students have a reason to panic.
Entrusting the job of assessment about poor results to the CID is a crude way of abdicating responsibility. It is hilarious, as also ironical. The minister would have commanded some sort of respect and credibility by boldly accepting the responsibility. But since he has opted to divert the attention from failure of the department under his control, the betrayed parents of the failed students have a right to seek explanation.
Normally, in a situation like the one inflicted to J&K education sector, the issue of dwindling educational standards in the government schools should have been assigned to academicians, policy planners and reformers to achieve tangible transformation but since the government tends to be insensitive, let it put some basic facts in the public domain.
Inter-allia, the minister should, in the first instance, publish a white paper on attachments of teachers in the city and urban schools, with full particulars about their families and spouses, durations of attachment, names of schools with their rolls and arrangements made at the places of their original postings. In case of any hesitation on the part of the government or the minister concerned, the parents must explore all options, including legal recourse, to know the facts since these may turn out to be crucial in determining the failures. It is an ‘open secret’ that many schools in the twin capital cities are flooded with attachment of teachers, owing to their proximity with who’s who or kinship with those who matter in the State bureaucracy, judiciary, police set-up and above all the political class. In some of the schools, teachers outnumber the students, leaving rural educational institutions starving for want of teaching staff. In certain cases attached teachers (spouses of politicians and bureaucrats) are off their duties for 10 to 12 years, marking attendances on registers being sent through clerical staff at their homes. In some cases, the teachers posted in various schools have hired their own substitutes at meager daily wages to perform duties on their behalf. A thorough and impartial probe will unfold interesting stories but who will bell the cat.
The second crucial factor to educational failure is lack of accountability and management among teachers and administrators. They are in a state of inertia despite having highly qualified and highly paid teachers and professors. They know the status of institutions they work, which is why their own children keep pursing academics in private schools. Will it be too much for the government, to publish a fact-sheet regarding the schooling of wards of teachers, to ascertain how many of them had opted for private schools?
Of late, the education minister has been quite often in news; always for slightly controversial reasons. He may be giving a good copy to scribes but the costs are too high, considering the all important education of young people. Recently, he had stated that his department will be carrying out profiling of areas of the students and their parents to ascertain the reasons for their poor performance in the examinations. “Besides role of teacher, we want to know other problems so that a solution is found to this problem”, he had said.
Prior to his taking over, the predecessor of the present education minister had initiated Village Education Committees in 2015, to, what he had stated, encourage synergic government-community partnership to achieve the objective of univerlisation of elementary education. The initiative, he had boasted, was aimed at giving community ownership to educational institutions.
Instead of finding ‘owners’ to the failed education system, the government must learn from the managements of private educational institutions how to derive desired results. They must understand that the private educational institutions, both in Jammu and Srinagar, too have problems-not that of failures but why all their students could not achieve distinctions. This is the benchmark of private schools, which know no failures.
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© 2017 State Times Daily Newspaper