Despite instructions issued by education department that cancelled the deputation of teachers to make them available for teaching in their respective schools, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan authorities in Punjab asked district education officers to forward names of teachers to be taken on deputation as SSA functionaries.
Interestingly, both instructions of education department and SSA authorities were issued on June 18 last.
Vide an office memo SSA/Admin/2012/81080-81 dated June 18, secretary school education had ordered DEOs to send back all teachers working on deputation to their parent cadre. The communiqué had ordered the DEOs to assure that teachers in their districts were not used for any non-teaching work.
A letter signed by Additional State Project Director on June 18 asked all DEOs to send a list of teachers by June 25 who were willing to work on deputation as SSA functionaries. For different categories of 2,635 posts under SSA, district authorities were directed to shortlist teachers three times the number.
"It is not only a mockery of the letter issued by the education department but also a sheer violation of Punjab and Haryana high court instructions to the State not to use teachers for non-teaching works so as to ensure proper teaching in government schools," revealed an SSA official on anonymity.
"When the SSA has appointed 1,470 non-teaching employees, including assistant block coordinators, block office assistants and accountants for every 50 schools, MIS coordinators and many other non-teaching functionaries to meet routine works, what is the need for sending teachers on deputation; that too, by putting their teaching work at stake," he remarked.
"Moreover, the Punjab government is going to receive a grant of Rs 18,000 per month for every official; then why teachers are being sent on deputation for all the posts, and that too when there is shortage of teaching staff in schools and lots of vacancies of teachers are lying vacant due to one reason or another," he further added.
The 2635 posts, for which new names have been called, include block resource persons (subject-specific training), resource persons for children with special needs, MIS coordinators, data entry operators and cluster coordinators.
Punjab education minister Sikandar Singh Maluka, when contacted, said, "Both the letters should not be treated as contradictory. We have ordered cancellation of all deputations of teachers, specially working as SSA functionaries, as the system was not functioning well because no planned appointments were made earlier."
"To check principal cadre staff, persons very juniors to them were deputed as resource persons. So, several adverse reports were received from across the state. So we decided to revamp the whole system by sending back all teachers and appointing new staff on the basis of seniority and subject-specific knowledge to work as resource persons," he added.
"We cannot refuse to send teachers on deputation to SSA, which is a government of India's flagship programme for universalisation of elementary education under Union ministry of human resource and development," Maluka further added.
"What I can assure is that for non-teaching works, teachers will not be used except when there is no other option. But the whole system is so complex that we cannot expect a Midas touch to simplify it. We have taken the initiative; let us hope for better results," the minister said.