GUWAHATI: Nagaland has decided to crack the whip to break a ‘tradition’ in government schools –teachers paying dummies to do their job.
Yitachu, Nagaland’s minister of school education, has set June 30 as a deadline for teachers who outsource their jobs to substitutes to resign or be dismissed from service and face legal action.
The school education department, he said, has been detecting cases of ‘proxy teachers’ over the years, but “time to act tough has come”. The minister set the deadline while attending a conference of physical education teachers in state capital Kohima on Wednesday.
The state government has no data on the number of schools and school teachers in Nagaland. Officials estimate more than half of some 22,000 teachers ‘employ’ proxies. A government-appointed teacher pays 10-25% of his or her monthly salary to a substitute. This is usually the case with teachers based in urban centres but appointed in a village school or in a district far from home.
A substitute, students’ unions have found out, is invariably a local youth unqualified for the job. “Such teachers are error prone. Their pronunciation is faulty, understanding of subjects is weak. We need to check proxy teachers, but if they cannot be avoided the government should ensure they are at least undergraduates,” Semto L Sumi, a former Zunheboto district students’ union president had written some time ago.
Proxy teachers are a problem for the government in adjoining Manipur too. A departmental survey in that state’s Ukhrul district in 2013 showed 80% of the teachers were proxies. Each of the district’s 290 schools had such teachers.