Conflicting orders put teachers in a fix - Mandi Gobindgarh News

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Monday, September 16, 2019

Conflicting orders put teachers in a fix

Conflicting orders put teachers in a fix

Ravi Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, September 15

The Secretary (Education) and subdivisional magistrates (SDMs) across the state are at variance with each other with both issuing conflicting sets of orders regarding preparation of electoral rolls, which has left government schoolteachers bewildered at the turn of events.

On September 9, Secretary (Education) Krishan Kumar asked all DCs to ensure that teachers were not put on duty for the ‘voter verification programme’ which, in any case, is a month-long process.

In his communication, he has made it clear that such an order will “adversely affect the study of students.” But 48 hours later, on September 11, the Gurdaspur SDM, citing orders of the Election Commission of India, asked heads of departments, including district education officers (DEOs), to deploy employees such as block-level officers to ensure the programme is implemented. The teaching community comprises 90 per cent of all the state government employees who are put on poll duty. This development has triggered strong reactions from unions. “Whom should the tutors follow? If we obey the diktats of the Secretary, we will be pulled up by our DCs. If we go by what our DCs and SDMs say, we will have to face the wrath of the Secretary. Either way, we are doomed. SDMs all over the state have made it clear that we will have to face disciplinary action if we refuse to join election duty. We have been caught between the devil and the deep blue sea,” said Davinder Singh Punia, general secretary of the powerful Punjab Democratic Teachers’ Front. Several SDMs had asked tutors to join duty but principals and school heads had refused to relieve these teachers, forcing the Secretary to come to their rescue.

The Secretary has also made it clear that instead of the teaching staff, non-teaching staff should be put on duty. This, too, has caused unrest among the unions which say that ever since the government decided not to fill up vacancies, schools were suffering from a shortage of non-teaching staff which includes clerks, senior laboratory attendants and library attendants.

An official said the Education Department was aware of the confusion prevailing among the teachers following the issuance of two orders. “We are looking into it. Hopefully, a solution will be found soon,” he said.

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