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Posted at: Jun 12, 2018, 12:29 AM; last updated: Jun 12, 2018, 12:29 AM (IST)

Row over deputing teaching staff as BLOs

Secretary, Education, asks DCs to spare teachers as it hinders studies

Balwant Garg

Tribune News Service

Faridkot, June 11

Deputing government school teachers as Block Level Officers (BLO) in election-related works has stirred a controversy.

Asking all Deputy Commissioners to depute only non-teaching staff on BLO duty, the Secretary, School Education Department, has demanded that only proportional number of employees from the Education Department be assigned the BLO duty.

Secretary Krishan Kumar wrote to the Deputy Commissioners after a number of teachers and unions gave their representation to the School Education Department, alleging that a large number of teachers have been put on BLO duty, depriving the students from studies.

In the letter to the DCs, the secretary said the teachers were put on BLO duties at the fag end of the academic year, which was a crucial time for the study of the students.

To ensure teachers’ maximum presence in the schools, the School Education Department has now prepared a list of non-teaching staff, including clerks, junior assistants, lab assistants, librarians, library attendants, library restorers, SLAs and workshop attendants, who can be put on BLO duty.

But their duty should also be proportional to other government departments, demanded the secretary.

As per the guidelines framed by the Government of India, 13 categories of employees, including teachers, can be appointed as BLOs to conduct surveys of election.

However, a majority of the persons appointed as BLOs, more than 90 per cent, in Punjab are from the Education Department, particularly teachers, it is alleged.

Though on March 15, the Secretary, School Education, had recommended all DCs to appoint minimum number of teachers as BLOs, there is no compliance of these directions, alleged a legal notice served by Gitish Bhardwaj, an advocate, on the Punjab Government.

Even there is discrimination in deputing teachers as BLOs, alleged Bhardwaj.

There is a “pick and choose”” policy while appointing government employees as BLOs, he added. While those close to the SDMs and DEOs have been exempted from the BLO duty, those lesser ‘connected’ are assigned the duty, he alleged.

There are many schools where not even a single teacher has been appointed as BLO while, on the other hand, there are many schools in which all teachers have been appointed as BLOs.

BLOs have been asked to collect the whole data on their personal mobile phones. Teachers not having smart phones are being forced to purchase these for collection and e-transfer of data about the voters.

BLOs don’t come under the duty relating to election rather it is the duty of data entry operators. Even as per Section 27 of the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, there is a prohibition on the assigning teachers non-educational duties, claimed Bhardwaj.

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