As Kashmir’s education department has set on the path to reform, hundreds of teachers on Saturday took to streets protesting against what they called “humiliation of teaching community”.
The section of teachers is miffed over the “anti-teacher” policy of the department and “dictatorship of the bureaucrats”.
On Saturday, around 2500 teachers, from different parts of the valley and led by trade union leader Abdul Qayoom Wani, assembled in Srinagar and took to streets. The protesting teachers were raising slogans against former education minister Nayeem Akhtar, Commissioner Secretary Education and Director School Education Dr Shah Faesal.
“In the name of reform, in the name of transfer policy or screening test for ReT (Rehbar-e-Taleem) and the Super-50, they (government) have humiliated the teachers,” Wani, who is also the president of Employees Joint Action Committee, told The Indian Express. “We are not against reform, we are not against transfers but they (government) have brought a bad name to teachers by talking about exams and screening tests for the teachers”.
Wani said that the protest is aimed against Nayeem Akhtar, Commissioner Secretary Education Shaleen Kabra and Director School Education Dr Shah Faesal – the trio responsible for starting the “reform” in the department. Interestingly, Akhtar is not part of the government at this point of time as the state is reeling under the governor’s rule.
The tussle between the Teacher’s forum, led by Wani, and Faesal started when he issued a circular that no teacher, who is part of any teachers’ body, would be exempted from his teaching duties.
According to officials in the Education department, more than 300 teachers who are associated with different teachers’ unions are not attending duties and have transferred themselves to non-teaching posts. Wani, a senior teacher by designation, himself has been “transferred along with the post” to SSA and shifts to Jammu with Darbar move.
Last week, a video went viral on social networking sites in which Wani was using un-parliamentary language against Faesal calling him ‘uloo ka patha’ and ‘chocolate boy’ and warning him against taking on Wani and his union. Though Wani said that he feels “ashamed” for using these words, he blamed Faesal of instigation by calling “unions as mafia”. One of the Facebook posts, the School Education department, addressed to teachers, read: “We assure you that in pursuit against forum/union mafia we won’t make any compromise and all your concerns shall be addressed”.
The video created a buzz in social networking sites with people rallying in support of Faesal. In fact, it created a division within the teaching fraternity and some of the teacher unions decided not to be part of Wani’s protest march.
“We extend our support to Director School Education for taking steps for the betterment of the derailed education sector of the valley,” said Anwar Hussain Wani, chairman General Line Teachers Forum, a parallel teachers’ body.
Director School Education Faesal said that the leaders are miffed at the transfer of two trade union leaders. “We are planning transfer melas. There was a perception that education department has a transfer industry and with the use of teacher database and transfer mela we want to correct that and eliminate the scope for corruption,” Faesal told The Indian Express. “Transfer melais a good governance practice followed in many states for on-spot disposal of transfer requests in a transparent manner”.
There is a general perception in valley that the district and zonal-level officers in Education department are being pressurized by the union leaders for favourite postings.