Gujarat government teachers on Friday requested the education minister that they be disengaged from all other activities if the government wanted improvement in learning levels among government school students. The teachers also said their request should be granted not just for the month-long Mission Vidya, but be followed throughout the year.
The issue was raised at a meeting here to discuss Mission Vidya — a campaign that will be held from July 23 to August 31 for students of Classes VI to VIII who were found to be unable to read, write and do simple calculations during the recent Gunotsav evaluation exercise.
When the teachers reiterated their request, Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama said, “Deliberations are underway over discharging teachers from all other activities during the 31 days of Mission Vidya as well as throughout the year.”
He added, “We hope that all teachers are provided appreciation certificates after 31 days, when this campaign concludes, in a similar programme in the presence of everyone.”
The meeting was attended by more than 1,000 District Education Officers (DEOs), District Primary Education Officers (DPEOs), Cluster Resource Centre (CRC) and Block Resource Centre (BRC) coordinators, District Institute of Education and Training (DIET) principals and lecturers, and language teachers. It was chaired by Chudasama, who was accompanied by senior officials of the education department.
A BRC coordinator raised the issue, saying, “During the presentation it was said that teachers would not be given other activities during this campaign, but there are Shala Kosh meetings, training and other activities scheduled in July and August. How to ensure that the teachers will be able to reach and teach in the class?”
While this garnered loud applause, Director Primary Education M I Joshi warned, “If we follow what you have said, that you should not be given any other work during this month, then if after this month we are not provided with results, strict action will be taken against all those responsible.”
He continued, “We agree with what you say. So you should also agree to what we say. Despite this, if there is any request from BRC, CRC coordinators or even teachers, that they tried but did not get results, we will not take that.”
Undeterred, Gujarat Primary Teachers Association president Digvijaysinh Jadeja said, “We request that this ‘no other activity for government teachers’ should be not just for 31 days but through the year. Make this a regular rule. All teachers should be made free from other irrelevant work.”
Justifying this request, Jadeja told The Indian Express, “Be it any office other than education department, like mamlatdar office and collector office, they issue orders engaging teachers in all kinds of work. The latest is teachers being deputed in flood control rooms. Teachers can be roped in for rehabilitation work after a calamity like flood or earthquake, but deploying them at flood control rooms is not acceptable.”
When asked about other activities teachers are roped into, Jadeja mentioned election and census duties, arranging students for government programmes and audiences for political events, and organising programmes like Gunotsav, Shala Praveshotsav.
“There are a dozen campaigns in July-August, from Ori and Rubela vaccination, Shala Kosh online process, teacher training from Class III to V, scholarship online process, remedial teaching, preparation for science exhibition, entries for sports events (Shala Ramatotsav), social audit, school development plan among others,” he added.
A DEO from Saurashtra added, “All meetings pertaining to Mission Vidya should be held only on Saturdays from 3 to 6 pm, so that teaching work is not affected.”
As reported by The Indian Express, during a similar meeting on June 27 held in Gandhinagar by the education minister, it was decided that to achieve the objective of a government school student being able to read, write and perform simple calculations, a state-wide campaign would be undertaken by the Education Department. At the end of this period, teachers with non-performers would be penalised.
As part of this campaign, all DEOs and DPEOs have been directed to prepare a list of all such ‘weak’ students across the state. Help will be sought not only from school teachers but also retired faculty members and officials of other departments. These students will be taught after school hours.