The Punjab education department has woken up to the alleged misuse of mobile phones by school teachers during duty hours after a complaint in this connection received at a sangat darshan held by deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on December 10.
On Friday, the department shot off a letter to district education officers (DEOs) of the state to ensure no mobiles are used by teachers during teaching hours. The letter has been uploaded on the website of the department.
"It has come to be seen that some of the teachers keep busy on WhatsApp and Facebook on their mobiles during school hours, which affects studies. So, all the teachers are instructed not to use mobile phones during teaching hours. The school heads must ensure that no teacher uses mobile phones during duty hours and a strict disciplinary action would be taken against the erring teachers," reads the letter, written by the office of the director general school education (DGSE), Punjab.
"It is very difficult to stop use or misuse of mobiles as it is not possible to monitor all the individuals. If the government is sincere to curb the alleged misuse of mobiles, it should randomly check some of the numbers of teachers once in a month to trace whether they had used their mobiles during school hours. If someone is found to be using mobile or internet, he should be punished and it would send a strong signal to the others too. Otherwise, these instructions will not work," said a source.
The implementation of the instructions also seems difficult as most of the schools do not have regular heads. Only 18 government high schools have regular heads out of a total of 45 in Faridkot district, while most of the posts, about 27, are lying vacant.
"Against the vacant posts, some senior teachers function as school heads or in-charges, but they cannot afford to be strict against their colleagues in most of the cases. Only regular heads can take strict action against anyone," said a teacher wishing not to be named.
The teachers have also been receiving a mobile phone allowance since 2009 ranging from Rs 150 to Rs 500 as per their grades as per the fifth pay commission report, it has been learnt.
"We agree with the government that misuse of mobile phones must be stopped but, on the other hand, mobile has become an essential part of everybody's life. The department had itself decided to implement a decision asking the teachers to mark their presence through sending a text message, which has been withdrawn as we had strongly opposed it," said
Prem Chawla, senior vice-president of the state government teachers union, Punjab.
Sukhchain Singh Gill, district education officer (secondary), Faridkot, said that he would ensure to comply with the instructions to stop the misuse of mobiles on duty hours by the teachers."
"I shall try my best to strictly ensure implementation of the instructions," said Gill. On vacant posts of school heads, he said that in-charges would ensure the implementation of instructions.