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Manpreet Randhawa , Hindustan Times
Chandigarh, February 05, 2013
The Punjab government will kick out nearly 1,300 government schoolteachers who didn't report back for five or more years after moving abroad. In the preliminary inquiries, the state education department has found that the majority of the absentee teachers applied for prolonged sabbatical but failed to report back on duty even after their official of leave of absence was over.

The absentee teachers are from primary, middle, high, as well as secondary schools. The government even asked them to show cause but none replied to the notice. "We cannot afford to let the absentee teachers play with the future of thousands of students," said education minister Sikander Singh Maluka. "We gave them enough time to explain. Finally, we have decided to do away with their services."

Already, the government had sacked nearly 200 teachers who had been absent from duty without the formal consent of the education department, said Maluka. "There is a need to instill discipline among the teaching fraternity. I don't say that all teachers are alike. There are many who do their job with utmost sincerity and dedication but we have to get rid of those who probably joined the department for other considerations," the minister added.

The department will recruit another 5,000 teachers to overcome the staff shortage in all streams. "We will soon conduct a teaching eligibility test (TET) for fresh recruits," said Maluka. "The government has decided to outsource the job for free and fair selection." Requests for holding the TET was made to many universities but none has accepted the task, so far.

The government has also decided to extend the deadline for schools to get the mandatory affiliation from the Punjab school education board. "More than 1,600 application are pending. We will try to clear at least half by April 1," said Maluka. "In case we are unable to, we'll extend the deadline. After this, the non-affiliated schools will have to pay a heavy penalty."


Time table for harsh weather
The Punjab government has decided to have four school time tables, each for different extreme weather.

During harsh winter or scorching summer, the schools will switch to a new time table from the normal schedule, education minister Sikander Singh Maluka has said. "I will not let the schools open before 10 or 10.30 in the morning during extreme weather," he added. "We'd rather be practical than following the set rules blindly."