No foreign leave except in vacations baffles Punjab teachers

No foreign leave except in vacations baffles Punjab teachers

Picture for representational purpose only.

Tribune News Service

Aparna Banerji

Jalandhar, June 26

The Education Department’s decision to restrict leave or holidays of teachers wanting to go abroad has sent them in a tizzy. In a letter issued on June 21, teachers have been asked to avail foreign tour leave only during summer or winter vacation.

These leaves are applicable to those going for a holiday or tour abroad. If anyone needs a leave for a pressing emergency or any other exigency, that case is different. — Rajiv Joshi, Deputy DEO, Jalandhar

“You are requested to ensure that the teachers/employees working under you willing to meet their relatives and family members or availing leave for touring foreign countries, do so only during the summer/ winter vacation,” says the letter issued to all District Education Officers by the Education Department.

As per the letter, many teachers have already applied for foreign tour leaves in the coming months (after the summer holidays). The department states that due to focus on the studies of students in the coming months, such foreign visit leave availed by teachers will affect studies. Hence leave for such purposes have been restricted.

Karnail Phillaur, a Phillaur-based teacher of a primary school, said, “There are many teachers who, due to a personal emergency, want to tour foreign countries. Teachers have to go abroad to meet one’s parents, children and relatives who are settled abroad.

“In such a scenario, anyone has a valid reason to visit a foreign country, but they cannot do so now. In my block (Phillaur) alone, nearly 15 teachers must be on foreign tour leave right now. How can teachers be restricted only to summer or winter holidays.”

He added, “The decision to restrict the foreign tour leave of teachers by the Education Department must be withdrawn because the letter is a violation of the civil services rules. It is not a crime to visit kin abroad. Restriction of this sort of leave only to a mere 35 to 40 days in a year (30 days of summer holidays and 5 to 7 days of winter holidays) is not right. The decision to allocate leave must also be at the DDO (Drawing and Disbursing Officer) level.”

Teachers already had to submit an affidavit when touring foreign countries that they would be terminated if they fail to turn up even a day later than their designated leave.

Notably, in the past, with a lot of teachers heading abroad on long leave and overstaying, many teachers had also been terminated. Some of them who overstayed due to emergencies also lost their jobs due to the strict rules.

Kuldeep Daurka, a Nawanshahr-based teacher, said, “In the past, it was rare that teachers had relatives living abroad. But now a majority of teachers have kin, especially children, living abroad. We see the new rules as a means to prevent teachers from seeing their own kids. Many get sick abroad and need family members. Such teachers would not even be able to visit their child in need. Rather than filling empty posts in schools, the government is increasing restrictions on teachers already working for them. Our association condemns the new rules.”

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