Amidst all buzz over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Chandigarh on the International Yoga Day on June 21, teachers of the city’s government schools are unhappy as they would have to sacrifice their summer vacations to ensure a good show on the grand day.
Although, it is being described as ‘voluntary’ practice, teachers are being sent reminders about attendance on WhatsApp on a daily basis by the department officials. With as many as 6,400 school students, who are being trained for the final show, 5,800 will be doing yoga with the PM at the Capital Complex. While private schools have refused to be a part of the event, the UT Administration is doing everything possible to ensure full strength from government schools, be it in the form of teachers or students. However, the teachers who had been earlier protesting over the issue, feel as though this has taken away their right to spend their summer vacations as per their plans.
Although, as per orders of education secretary Sarvjit Singh of April 29, the teachers, who have been imparted training by representatives of the Isha Foundation, were asked to come on ‘voluntary basis’. However, teachers say that isn’t the case. “We have been time and again told verbally that lecturers would be required to monitor the situation during the training camp till June 21,” said president, UT Cadre Educational Employees Union, Swarn Singh Kamboj.
Even though teachers have been given duty on a rotational basis, various teachers feel it doesn’t leave them with the option to travel or plan their vacations till the Yoga Day. Commerce lecturer from Government Model High School, Dhanas, Swarn Singh Kamboj, said, “Since there is no head in our school, there is complete confusion. On one day, there are some instructions given to us, on another, we are told to do something else. While there are no written orders, we cannot say no to such duties which means we have to be in the city till June 21.” Another teacher from the same school said, “It is an honour to have the PM visiting the city, but teachers should be spared from being put on duty during holidays.”
On the other hand, a teacher from a government school, Ram Darbar, told the HT, “It is easy to say that we are being put on duty on a rotational basis, but then most of us have also been assigned duties on June 5 for the examination for clerks and stenographers, implying we cannot plan our holidays.”
However, NCC in-charge at Government Model School, Sector 37, Pardeep Kumar, has a different story to tell. “I was assigned duty at Government School, Sector 40, where there were no participants. Whom do I train? It is ironical that those who want to do duty cannot, while those who don’t wish, are being forced to do it! The department should look into this.” An NSS programming officer from a local government school, requesting anonymity, said, “We are regularly sent reminders on WhatsAap by our NSS head and even cluster heads regarding attendance and to send photographs of yoga training sessions. So, while it is being called voluntary on the one hand, there is pressure to ensure attendance on the other.”
Education secretary Sarvjit Singh said, “We have been reiterating that the practice sessions is voluntary. I don’t think being put on duty for one day can hamper holiday plans.”