The ‘missing’ attendance register : The Tribune India

The ‘missing’ attendance register

The ‘missing’ attendance register

Photo for representational purpose only. - File photo



Sanjeev Gandhi

AS a college teacher, I have always been reluctant to take the roll call in every period. The class strength is large in government colleges and it takes several minutes to complete this exercise. But I always try to keep the students’ attendance register up to date as an incident taught me an important lesson.

When I joined this profession, one of my senior colleagues advised me that paperwork must be completed in any government job, otherwise one might get into trouble. But some of my colleagues were casual about maintaining the attendance records. The presence or absence of students was generally marked in staff rooms. One of my seniors’ register usually remained blank. One day, the college principal asked all teachers to update the attendance registers and submit them in the office the next day, which was the last day of the session. That afternoon, everyone was busy in the staff room marking ‘P’ and ‘A’ in the columns. The senior, who had not bothered about the register, did not seem perturbed. He went to the principal and told him that his register was complete but it had gone ‘missing’. According to him, he had left it in the staff room the previous afternoon but could not find it now. What could the principal do except order the peon to help the teacher in searching for the register! The peon tried to find it, but in vain. And it was presumed that the register was lost.

A few days after the incident, a staff meeting was convened. Though the matter was not on the agenda, the principal started talking about attendance registers. He said some teachers were very careless and made excuses to evade their responsibility. When a teacher sought an elaboration, he looked at my senior and asked if he maintained a record of students’ attendance. The teacher answered in the affirmative. At this, the principal opened a drawer and pulled out a soggy register. Its pages were blank.

The truth came out. A villager had spotted something clinging to his buffalo’s back when it came out of the village pond. It turned out to a college register, which someone had tried to dispose of by throwing it into the pond. Performing his civic duty, the villager had visited the college and handed it over to the office. When it was checked, the clerk found that the register was that of my senior and the matter was brought to the principal’s notice.

The revelation was met with peals of laughter at the meeting. The teacher in question was embarrassed. I realised that one can’t escape one’s duties and responsibilities and it’s better to carry them out in time to avoid cutting a sorry figure.

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