One year of Uttarakhand school education minister: Dress code non-starter, fee regulation move on course
From humiliating a government schoolteacher on a basic mathematics question before students to a failed attempt at making a dress code mandatory for teachers, one year of school education minister Arvind Pandey in Uttarakhand has been a tale of twists and turns.dehradun Updated: Mar 08, 2018 21:57 IST
From humiliating a government schoolteacher on a basic mathematics question before students to a failed attempt at making a dress code mandatory for teachers, one year of school education minister Arvind Pandey in Uttarakhand has been a tale of twists and turns.
A loquacious but dynamic minister in chief minister TS Rawat’s cabinet, Pandey took several decisions -- some worked, some boomeranged.
The minister ordered a dress code for government schoolteachers -- pant and shirt for men, and suits or sarees for women – effective from July 1, 2017. Even the CM backed his decision. But Pandey failed to enforce the order.
“The government cannot go on dictating us. It was decided that if the dress code gets a majority support from teachers, then it will be made compulsory. Not even 20% of the government teachers extended support to his decision,” said Sohan Singh, a member of the government teachers’ association.
Biometric and selfie attendance
The minister introduced biometric attendance for government teachers, but all schools could not be provided with the machines. He then decided that teachers would upload selfies on the education department portal to mark their attendance.
The decision drew flak, especially from those teachers who didn’t have smartphones; female teachers didn’t wish to get clicked every day and upload their pictures.
“Biometric attendance was fine only if machines are provided to every school. But selfie attendance is ridiculous. Instead of minimising workload on teachers, this decision came as a burden,” said Virendra Krishali, a member of the government teachers’ association.
One of the most promising decisions of Pandey was to ensure publishing of NCERT books locally for government and CBSE schools. The purpose was to sideline private publishers and provide competitive books to students at cheaper prices.
The minister took permission from NCERT officials and started publishing the books in Uttarakhand with the help of an agency. The books were made compulsory not only for all government schools under the Uttarakhand Board of School Education (UBSE), but also for private CBSE schools that had included books of private publishers in their syllabus.
“We had started publishing the books as per NCERT pattern and over 60% of the books are already supplied to the market,” said Alok Shekhar Tiwari, director general (DG), school education.
Private school fee Act
Pandey is working on a law to ensure a uniform fee in private schools and transparency in the fee structure. Officials have started preparing the draft, and the minister is hopeful of introducing the legislation by next year.
The previous Congress government had drafted the Fee Control and Disposal of Complaint Bill in 2015 too. Pandey has taken a cue from the bill.
“We are in the process of preparing the draft,” said Bhupinder Kaur, secretary, school education.
Pandey voiced concern over hidden charges in the fee structure of private schools. He had received complaints about private school fees from individuals and the Parents Teachers Association (PTA).
SIT probe into fake degrees
Pandey ordered a special investigation team (SIT) probe -- for the first time since the state formation -- to crosscheck the degrees of government teachers. The SIT has probed 27 cases of teachers working on fake degrees and documents.
“We are taking the cases on complaint basis. Eleven teachers have already faced legal action,” said Shweta Chaubey, SIT in-charge.
First Published: Mar 08, 2018 21:57 IST