A number of government school principals in Punjab have suddenly found that they have been transferred, despite most of them claiming that they never sought any relocation, as was mandated by the state government. Most such transferred principals now claim that they are bearing the brunt of “political interference”.
To cut down the “political interference” and to make the whole process “transparent and fair”, the state education department this year sought online applications from teachers who were seeking transfer. Till last year, the department used to get hard copy of the applications, often with recommendation letters from political big wigs attached.
Under the new policy, the government recently transferred 4,700 teachers after receiving applications from them – both online as well as through a “simple letter” (read hard copy).
“But the question is about those who never applied but still got transferred,” said a principal, who has received marching orders. The principal, who didn’t wish to be named, had been heading a school in Pathankot district.
He is not the only one. Such “out-of-the-blue” transfer cases have also been reported from several other districts including Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur, Pthankot, Moga, Mansa Fatehgah Sahib, Sangrur, Ludhiana, Ferozpur, and Patiala. At least four such cases of principals’ transfer has come to fore in Pathankot, three each in Ludhiana, Mansa and Gurdaspur, and two each in Hoshiarpur, Fatehgarh Sahib, and Moga districts.
Sources said that the senior officials in the education department have prepared a list of such principals who have been transferred without applying for the same. Sources in the department said that most of these principals had been working hard to motivate community people to participate in the ‘Smart School’ project. The projects seeks community help uplift the infrastructure by including all the basic and modern facilities of education in the schools.
With such principals transferred, the political leader can install their men at the vacant posts in the schools which already have an established infrastructure. Also some private school owners, considered close to political leaders, were not too happy with the performance of some of the government school principals. Reason: by improving the infrastructure and launching the best practises, such government schools had been able to wean away students from private schools where the fee structure is often prohibitory.
Sources said even Secretary education Krishan Kumar is unhappy over the way the transfers have been carried out.
The principals are now questioning the motive and the criteria behind the transfers. They said that as per the government notification, an application from the teacher or the principal was a must for transferring her or him. “Only those who had completed the minimum period, as per policy, at a particular location or had a pending inquiry or complaint against them could be transferred by the government,” one of the principals said, adding that those who have complained of being shifted out without even applying had no complaint or inquiry pending against them.
“Some political leaders wanted the transfers so that their near and dear one could be accommodated due to which several dynamic teachers were transferred without any basis. Some teachers, who had joined just a year ago, too have been transferred,” a source in the education department said.
The source confirmed that most such transferred principals had totally transformed the ailing schools, by creating best infrastructure by motivating village panchayats, NRIs and the locals to contribute.
“We had collected lakhs in funds from the villagers and some NRIs and used it to bring our school at par with best of the private schools. We had several lined up several other plans, but the sudden transfer of the school principal is going to be huge roadblock,” said a teacher from Doaba region.
“Such political interference can create hindrance in the overall scheme of things,” said another teacher at a Jalandhar’s school.
Education Minister Vijay Inder Singla, meanwhile, claimed that they have adopted most transparent system of teachers transfer this time by making an ‘online’ policy. “Principals and schools heads were kept out of the online process because they are the head of an institution and come under administrative posts,” he said, adding that there are 1500 principals and school heads out of which only around 100-125 have been transferred on some vacant posts. About the principals’ allegation that they had not applied for the transfer, he said the transfers can be carried out even without receiving an application. “We have tried to transfer every one in fair manner,” he said.