THE CIRCLE Education Offices (CEOs) in the state seem to be on the verge of closure as the entire clerical staff is being transferred to District Education Offices (DEOs) and Block Primary Education Offices (BPEOs) on the pretext of staff shortage there. Also the department is of the opinion that there was no need for these circle offices now and all the work, which used to be done here earlier by these offices, was being done at the school and DEOs level now. Even the department officials called these offices just dak (official correspondence) collection centres only.
Three CEOs are there in Jalandhar, Nabha and Faridkot districts since Independence and earlier, when Punjab was undivided, a post of Inspector General of School Education used to be there which was converted to CEO later.
Every Circle Education Office has seven to eight districts under them. These offices used to keep the service records of all the lecturer cadre teachers and their ACRs, too, used to be signed from here. Similarly, the records of Assured Career Progression (ACPs) of the school principals were also kept at these offices.
At the Jalandhar CEO, all the nine clerks have been transferred to the DEO and BPEO.
So, the office is left with CEO Jaspal Singh, a stenographer, a superintendent and four senior superintendents now. Similarly, six clerks of Faridkot and seven of Nabha CEOs were transferred on Thursday on the orders of Director Public Institutions (DPI) secondary office.
“Several works were delegated to these offices, including the work pertaining to the counter sign on the ACRs of principals/ headmasters, work pertaining to the confirmations of the newly appointed teachers and Dak from DEOs used to be collected here but now a large number of powers have been delegated to the school principals and DEOs and it leads to no relevance of these offices now,” said a senior education department official, adding that 19 employees of ministerial staff of these three offices were transferred on Thursday.
Punjab Education Department Ministerial Staff Association took out rallies at the district level in protest on Friday. Pawanjit Singh Sidhu, general secretary of the Punjab Education Department Ministerial Staff Association, said the government cannot close these offices without taking the clerical staff into confidence. The clerks transferred from the circle offices are being overburdened as one clerk has to do the work of at least two BPEOs. “There are hundreds of teachers who come under one BPEO and maintaining each and every record of these teachers is not possible for a single clerk,” he said, adding that even the objectionable words are being used for the clerical staff by senior officials.
They also said that CEOs had been set up on the pattern of Divisional Commissioner offices in Punjab. Like three divisional commissioners, there are three CEOs across the state despite every district having deputy commissioners and DEOs.
If a CEO is not required after a DEO, then a divisional commissioner, too, is not required after a DC, argued the ministerial staff.
Jalandhar CEO Jaspal Singh said they have been getting feedback about the closure of circle offices from senior officials though nothing in writing has come. Repeated attempts to contact Education Minister Aruna Chaudhary failed.