Improve conditions of schools first: Activists urge govt
DEHRADUN: Activists have flayed the government for introducing a compulsory dress code for teachers and education officials at a time when the schools are reeling under a shortage of infrastructure facilities.
The education department made it compulsory to wear light blue shirts and steel grey pants (men) and light blue saree or suit ( women) for teachers, officials and other employees from August 1.
Alleging skewed focus by giving preference to “issues of lesser importance”, activists demanded that the government shows an equal promptness in improving conditions of government schools.
Around 23% government schools lack drinking water facilities for children while no separate space is available for midday meals in around 36% schools studied , according to the Right To Education (RTE) Forum-Uttarakhand survey report in 2016. As many as 35% schools didn’t have toilets for girls while 40% lack facilities such as electricity and phone connections.
“By showing promptness in such non-serious matters (of fixing the dress code) that have little connection with improving quality of education, the government is revealing where its focus lies,” RTE fourm state convener Raghu Tiwari told Hindustan Times. “It (dress code) is nothing but an attempt to divert the public attention from real issues that actually affect the state-run schools, especially in remote, mountain areas.”
Activist Anoop Nautiyal asserted that the government should work on bringing in “systemic changes in the entire ecosystem” of education. “The focus should be on resolving the core issues faced by students as well as the problems faced by teachers.”
Notably, the Uttarakhand high court on June 30 warned the education officials to stay prepared for a salary cut, if they were unable to provide adequate infrastructure in government schools within six months. It also warned the government of recommending imposition of the Article 360 of the Constitution (that mandates declaration of a financial emergency) if the state lacked money to take care of schools. It directed officials to slash “unproductive expenses on luxurious items” and divert the necessary funds to the education system.
Education minister Arvind Pandey said the dress code would ensure teachers and officials remain present on duty full time. “As for other issues, we are working actively and taking steps to improve infrastructure and quality of education in our schools.”
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