More than 50% of teachers in several government schools in Madhya Pradesh have been found to be absent from duty on any given day despite drawing full salaries, a top government official said on Thursday.
Some of the absent teachers were also found to have let imposters appear for duty in their place for monthly payments ranging up to Rs 5,000 each, said SR Mohanty, additional chief secretary in charge of education.
The massive misconduct was noticed during an extensive inspection drive conducted over the past few months across the state, with authorities warning of strict action, including pay cut, as they feel this has affected the attendance and performance of children.
“In our surprise inspections over the past few months, we found that 55% teachers do not come to schools at all, but they collect their salaries at the end of every month. This will not be tolerated at any cost,” warned additional chief secretary, education, SR Mohanty.
He has asked concerned authorities to take strict measures to curb absenteeism amongst teachers. Madhya Pradesh has more than 20,000 schools with about 4.5 lakh teachers in its rolls.
As per the instructions, extensive inspections will be carried out from state level to the block level. Officers at the district level will be required to travel for two days while state level officers will have to travel as often as possible.
These inspections would be random and surprise ones. If any teacher is found absent without sanctioned leave or prior information, immediate deduction in salary or in the leave account will be done.
Every school will have photographs and mobile phone numbers of all officially appointed teachers on display, for inspecting officials to check whether they are at work or not.
“Teachers sometimes install someone to teach on their behalf for a mere Rs 5,000. In such cases, we will file a first information report (FIR) against both the teacher and the impersonator,” Mohanty warned.
According to Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), only 50% students attend school every day in the state.
“The reason children are not coming to school is because quality education is not being imparted to them and teachers do not come to school,” Mohanty said.
The ASER report also sheds light on the falling standard of education, noting that in 2014, less than 30% children in Class 5 in the state can read English and Hindi properly and only about 30% could solve simple arithmetic sums, down from about 60-80% in 2009.
Mohanty said teachers will have to compulsorily mark their attendance on m-Shiksha Mitra, an app made for the government school teachers for attendance, grievance and redressal.
Currently, only 30% staff use the app as most are against the introduction of new technology and have asked for training.
Dismissing the complaints, Mohanty said, “I fail to understand why they can’t use this app when they can use WhatsApp with ease constantly.”
“Their claim of not being able to buy a smartphone is also baseless. The salary government teachers get now is equivalent to that of an IT professional, yet every second day, a group of teachers protest for a better pay,” he said.
The education department has also decided that surplus teaching staff in cities would be shifted to village schools. The teachers will no longer be allowed to travel frequently to Bhopal for their personal work and will have to take prior permission if they wish to do so.