The education department of Punjab has finally initiated action against hundreds of government school teachers who have gone missing in the last several years.
The reason for this long and unaccounted-for absenteeism? The lure of the West and the sweet rustle of the dollar,sources said.
According to the list prepared by the Education department,1,186 employees have been absent from duty for long. Some for over a decade. These include principals,headmasters,lecturers,masters and mistresses,vocational masters and ETT teachers in all districts of Punjab.
Krishan Kumar,Director General,Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan,Punjab,said: We have sent the detailed chargsheets of all these absentees to the officers concerned for further action. I had a meeting today with senior officers of the department who told me that public notices have been issued against defaulters before taking action. Some District Education Officers (DEOs) have already initiated action against such teachers.
Talking to The Indian Express ,Sadhu Singh Randhawa,Director Public Instructions (Elementary),Punjab said,We have already dismissed 213 employees from the primary wing. These men and women went abroad on long leave and did not report back to duty. Another officer said,More than 100 employees of the secondary department have also been dismissed by now.
Randhawa added the department now makes teachers sign an affidavit before proceeding on long leave to a foreign country. The teacher has to mention that he will not extend his leave. If he does,the affidavit is automatically considered as his resignation for one who has served ten years,District Education Officer (Secondary),Ludhiana,Vachitar Singh said. Those with 20 years of service will be automatically retired and not allowed to join back. They will,however,get pension benefits.
Meanwhile,Satnam Singh Dhaliwal,president of the NGO,Universal Human Rights Organisation,claimed: The Education department became active only when we sought information under the RTI on October 9 last year about absentee teachers. We also wanted to know if appointments had been made in their places. Our aim is to help schoolchildren. Moreover,these teachers are a burden on the government since they avail of all benefits after retiring.