Odisha govt asks employees to take online courses on better governance
The finance department in a letter asked the government departments to order the Group-A, B and C employees to get themselves registered for the online courses as part of the holistic development of the skills of the employees.Updated: Nov 23, 2019 15:08 IST
Odisha government has asked its 3 lakh-odd employees to enrol into policy-oriented online courses offered by institutions like IMF, World Bank and Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab for a grounding on fiscal policy, financial markets and institutions and macroeconomic management among several other subjects.
The finance department in a letter asked all the departments to order the Group-A, B and C employees to get themselves registered for the online courses offered by these institutions as part of the holistic development of the skills of the employees.
“There are several online courses available in areas like poverty reduction and macroeconomics which the employees have to attend and get the certificates on successful completion, which would be entered into service books of employees. The employees have to pay up for the course fees from their pocket and when they get the certificate then we will reimburse the fees. However, no reimbursement will be done in case the employee fails to clear the exam conducted by the institution,” said finance secretary AKK Meena.
Meena said the employees have to choose a course which is relevant to the government work that they are doing. “If an engineer in RD or works department and wants to do a course in road technology, we would encourage it. If a health department staff wants to do a course on public health that are being offered by Harvard University, we would allow it. The idea is to ensure advanced learning without taking leave from office,” he said. The employees can also choose from courses offered by Indian institutes like IIM and IIT.
Institutions like IMF, World Bank and Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab provide these online courses through tie-ups with renowned institutions like Masachussets Institute of Technology. MIT is currently offering courses on challenges of global poverty, foundations of development policy, political economy and economic development and principles of microeconomics. This year’s Nobel laureate for Economics, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo are some of the teachers who will be imparting the online training.
The IMF’s online training program includes topics such as macroeconomic analysis, monetary and fiscal policy, macro-financial linkages, balance of payments issues, financial markets and institutions, as well as statistical and legal frameworks.
The state government has not made any separate budgetary allocations for reimbursement of the training costs to the employees for this year as enough funds are available in the capacity building heads of each department.
Officials said from next year, separate budgetary allocation may be made for the employees once large number of employees start enrolling in the programme.
The e-learning is part of chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s 5T initiative -- technology, transparency, teamwork, time and transformation -- to bring about radical change in governance system. After getting elected for 5th consecutive term in May this year, Patnaik has been busy sermonising his officials to be accountable to people while stressing on implementation of 5T. The government has already decided to accord 20 per cent weightage for the performance of government employees in the implementation of 5T components.
Government employees have welcomed the move saying anything that helps them do their job better is always welcome, but said government should look at manpower crunch affecting government departments. “As per the government’s own admission, more than 1.31 lakh sanctioned government posts are vacant in the state. When someone is getting retired, the posts are not being filled up. The employees are already overworked and an online course may not help much in optimising their potential at the workplace,” said Braja Nanda, a leader of the state government employees federation.
Former state finance minister and noted public policy analyst Panchanan Kanungo said such e-learning courses would not improve the governance. “The government can take all measures of modernising the administration through things like 5T. As on date, Odisha needs 2.7 lakh skilled teachers starting from primary school to university which we don’t have. There are not enough policemen to detect crimes. Similarly, the hospitals don’t have enough doctors and skilled technicians. Till the time these things are not taken care of, e-learning would be of little use,” said Kanungo.