Wednesday, April 10, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

‘Teachers’ on hire in border areas
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur/Amritsar, April 9
Ever heard a class V student teaching in a government primary school on a meagre payment of Rs 300 per month?

This might sound strange, but the startling fact came to light during the two-day vigilance checking of government schools, which were in a pitiable condition. Many teachers posted in remote border areas had ‘hired’ sub-teachers to run the school on meagre ‘salaries’. A husband-wife duo who hardly visited their own school had opened a private school in the nearby village.

The checking of schools also revealed that many schools remained closed for months together owing to absenteeism prevailing among the government teachers. The raids also exposed the callous attitude of the district education officers concerned, who had never bothered to check the schools to ensure the attendance at schools.

The vigilance teams, headed by Mr Tajinder Paul Singh Sandhu Superintendent of Police, checked more than 100 schools in Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts in two days. The report compiled by the department showed that many public schools charging hefty amounts from the students had mushroomed in the border areas due to the increasing absenteeism of teachers. Other members of the vigilance team were Mr Swinder Singh Sandhu and Mr Ranbir Singh — both DSPs, and six inspectors, including Mr Ranbir Singh.

Mr Sandhu informed that during the checking at the primary school at Khusopur (Amritsar), the teacher, Mr Parmjit Singh, one of the partners of a hotel at Amritsar, was absent. Villagers told the team that Mr Parmjit Singh remained absent most of the time and he had ‘hired’ Gurbhej Singh, a resident of Miadi village on Rs 1000 per month.

Similarly, Rajwant Kaur (11), who had studied upto class V, was found teaching at the government primary school at Rattan under the Gharinda police station. She had been getting Rs 300 per month from her “employers” Harbhajan Kaur, Kanwal Kaur and Rohit Bedi, all teachers of the school who hardly visited the school. The SP (Vigilance) said during the checking at the primary school at Chakk Dogran, an aanganwadi worker was teaching the students while the teacher, Bajinder Kaur, was found absent.

When a vigilance team visited the high/primary school at Kakakar Kalan, not a single teacher was present. Students were seen playing in the ground. Asked about the insignificant attendance of the students, the villagers told the team that the students used to reach the roof-tops of their house and see passengers alighting from the buses. In case they sew that their teachers had alighted from the bus, they went to the school.

Another hired teacher, Swinder Kaur, who had passed class XII, was seen teaching students at the primary school at Manderanwali (Gurdaspur) while the teacher Mr Jagdish Singh was absent. In his report, Mr Kashmir Singh, an inspector, informed that the teacher hardly visited the school.

Another shocking fact came to light during the checking at the border village of Ghanie ke Bet across the Ravi in Gurdaspur district. The school had hardly been opened in the past six months. In the absence of the teacher, Army jawans had taken up the challenge to impart education to the students.

The villagers told the team that the teacher, Mr Baljinder Singh, had opened a public school at Shampur village in the memory of his father. His wife Harbhajan Kaur was posted as primary school teacher at Megha village, but she hardly went there.

The vigilance team went to Shampur village where the couple was present. Though Ms Harbhajan Kaur claimed that she was on medical leave, she was teaching at the private school. The couple had allegedly persuaded some students of the government school where Ms Harbhajan Kaur was posted to join the private school, where they charged exorbitant fees.

The inside picture of the primary schools in border areas was too grim to be described in words. The primary school at Bal village in Dera Baba Nanak (Gurdaspur) was worse than a shed for animals. Ms Shakuntla Devi was teaching only one student during the checking. She informed the raiding team that the strength of the school was 23.

Mr Sandhu said the “hired teachers” found during the raids was just the tip of the iceberg. The problem of absenteeism was much more grave in the border belt. He said during the raids, more than 100 schools had been checked and 62 teachers had been found absent.Back

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