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Punjab govt’s indecision keeps education dept, teachers on tenterhooks

The morcha – a group formed by various school teachers’ unions – has decided to hit the streets again and hold a protest march in Patiala on July 14 to press their demands.

punjab Updated: Jul 10, 2018 21:01 IST
Navneet Sharma
Navneet Sharma
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab,Punjab school education department,Teacher Transfer Policy
The schoolteachers have been up in arms against the policy clauses that put a seven-year cap on tenure at one place and mandate that no teacher will be allowed to seek transfer before completion of three years in a school. (HT File)

The Punjab school education department and thousands of its teachers are on tenterhooks due to the state government’s indecision on the Teacher Transfer Policy 2018.

The policy, approved by the state cabinet in a meeting held under the chairmanship of chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on March 7 this year for “greater transparency” in transfers, has been on hold following protests by the teachers’ unions due to their opposition to clauses related to deemed vacancy, cap on minimum stint in a school and criteria for transfer.

Though the state government gave an assurance to the agitating schoolteachers three months ago that their demands will be accommodated and the department officials agreed “in principle” to their demands in the policy in subsequent meetings, no final decision has been taken so far. As a result, the policy, which provided for online general transfers of teachers once a year and was to be applicable from April 1, 2018, has still not been implemented.

Sanjha Adhyapak Morcha convener Balkar Singh Valtoha said the chief minister has twice cancelled his meetings with the morcha representatives in the past six weeks and no fresh date has been given. “The department officials say that changes have been proposed and the matter is with the government, but nothing has been done on the teacher transfer policy or regularisation of contractual staff,” he said.

The morcha – a group formed by various school teachers’ unions – has decided to hit the streets again and hold a protest march in Patiala on July 14 to press their demands. It is also demanding regularisation of contractual teachers, full pay scale for teachers on equal work equal pay principle, changes in teacher-taught ratio for secondary and senior secondary classes and amendments in the rationalisation policy.

When contacted, director general of school education Prashant Kumar Goyal said the policy is under reconsideration. “We are hopeful that the policy will be cleared soon. Once a decision is taken, it will be implemented,” he said. School education minister OP Soni could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.

The schoolteachers have been up in arms against the policy clauses that put a seven-year cap on tenure at one place and mandate that no teacher will be allowed to seek transfer before completion of three years in a school. “The idea behind introducing these clauses was to provide a level playing field and end complacency among teachers, but the government is having a relook at them. We do not want these issues to affect the overall objective,” said a senior official.

The policy, which has a number of significant initiatives aimed at improving the quality of education, gives preference to teachers who have delivered good results and those who send their children to government-run schools in transfers and postings in the state. Teachers will be awarded points out of 200 on age, length of service, performance, special categories, among other criteria and get preference on the basis of their score. The state has about 19,000 schools with over 1 lakh teachers.

First Published: Jul 10, 2018 20:58 IST