The Punjab government has asked the district education officers (DEOs) across the state to submit details of teachers at state-run schools participating in ‘political activities’ for ‘initiating disciplinary action’ against them.
In a letter, issued from the office of director, secondary education, and undersigned by assistant director (coordination), the DEOs have been ordered to immediately send the report.
“It has come to the notice of the department that some teachers in the state, while ignoring the studies of their students, are participating in political activities. It is not only the violation of The Government Employee (Conduct) Rules 1966, but also affecting studies of the students and creating a bad influence,” read the letter.
Multiple sources in the education department said that the government wants to identify those who have been actively participating in agitations and protests organized by teacher unions but remain absent from their duties in schools. Also, several complaints have reached the department regarding the teachers who have some political affiliation, and using their influence, are on deputation and ‘attached’ with that politician, even as they continue to draw salaries from the department.
“It has been noticed that even as the education minister and the officials have been open to hold meetings and discussions with teacher unions over their demands, some teachers still prefer to protest and raise slogans instead of participating in the discussions. Such teachers are also remaining absent from their official duties in schools. Recently some of them also reached Himachal Pradesh ahead of polls there to protest and raise slogans. We want to identify such teachers and disciplinary action will be taken against them,” said an official from the education department.
“Some others are attached to politicians and on fake deputation to evade duty. They will also be identified,” the official added.
Vikram Dev Singh, state president, Democratic Teachers Front (DTF), said that the government cannot stop teachers from protesting over their genuine demands and issues. “Protesting and holding agitations is our democratic right and no government can muzzle voice of teachers over their genuine issues. The letter does not clarify that what exactly is meant by ‘political activity’. The department needs to elaborate it,” he said.