Bhopal: Teachers in all government schools had been ordered to write their cellphone numbers on school walls for transparency and strengthening teacher-parent rapport. But in this exercise, troublemakers have found an opportunity to harass teachers.
One such teacher at a government school in a village in Ujjain was on the brink of leaving her job after receiving obscene calls from the sarpanch. Only after a friend suggested to her to change her cellphone number did the harassment stop. But female teachers elsewhere say the open display of phone numbers is a source of worry.
"Many a time father of a student called me up at odd hours in an inebriated state to make silly inquiries," said Anita Saraswat, teacher at Rashidia Middle School in Barkhedi, Bhopal.
"In such a state of mind, they do not listen to what we try to explain. If we cut the call midway, they dial again and start arguing," added Saraswat.
Another teacher, Sangeeta Bhatnagar too had suffered after her cellphone number was made public. She visited a student's home when he did not turn up to take his internal examination.
"I received a call as 1.40am. The father of the child was drunk. When I objected to his calling so late, he said he works in a printing press and this is the only time he could call. Then he argued with me for 30 minutes till my husband woke up and switched off my phone," said Sangeeta.
When Sangeeta complained to the principal, she said she could not help but to follow orders of the department.
Men too have suffered. Anil Hada, a teacher at a middle school in Kekadia near Bhopal, got a call when he was visiting his in-laws' house.
"A local leader said on phone 'master sahab, why haven't you come to the school for the past two days'. I told him I was on leave. I felt very embarrassed when he started insulting me," said Hada.
President of district Shikshak Congress Ashutosh Pandey said he had submitted a memorandum to the principal secretary advising against the practice. "No one should make my personal number public. This is also against the law. The cellphone numbers that are made public, like that of municipal corporation or police officials, are provided by the government. If the education department wants to make the mobile numbers of teachers and principals public, they should provide official SIM cards," said Pandey.
However, additional chief secretary and principal secretary school education SR Mohanty said, "The teachers themselves provided the numbers to us and we gave it to the parents. As far as harassment is concerned, it should be tackled by the teachers concerned."