In 2016, the Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP government in Haryana brought about a significant governance reform. Instead of transfers of government school teachers being done the usual way – that is, teachers thronging the premises of Haryana Civil Secretariat in Chandigarh – the government devised an online system to allocate postings. Many in the state government claim that this system has almost eliminated the corruption and “sifarish” raj that has plagued the process of transferring teachers.
There are as many as 95,000 regular teachers and 15,000 guest teachers employed in the 14,000 government schools in Haryana; however, guest teachers are not eligible to take part in the transfer process.
The new system is expected to be showcased as a major achievement of the Khattar government in the upcoming elections for the state Assembly in October. In fact, the state Chief Minister has now decided to extend the scheme. “Buoyed by the success of the concept, the Haryana government has already decided to introduce the online transfer system in 14 other departments as well,” says Rajiv Jain, the Media Advisor to the CM.
Before the online transfer system was introduced, teachers (or their relatives) used to land up at the Chandigarh situated residences of Ministers and MLAs to seek postings at their favourite places. This process used to take place right through the year. It used to keep the entire departmental machinery engaged in the process of transfers.
What is online transfer system for teachers
The transfer process is voluntary for teachers who have completed one year of regular service in a zone and mandatory for teachers who have completed five years of service. Teachers with 12 months or less left before retirement are exempted. The eligible teachers can opt for schools of a zone of their choice across 22 districts in the state. In the absence of a preference, teachers can be posted anywhere in the state.
The decision to opt for online transfers was guided by the desire to adopt a system that was both efficient as well as transparent and fair. At the end of the first year, Chief Minister Khattar had said, “Transfer of about 42,000 teachers was done with the click of the mouse. Out of these, 93 per cent teachers got the posting of their choice… Under previous governments, transfers had become an industry as they were done only through recommendations or (in lieu of) money. But the teachers transfer policy implemented by the present government has not only drawn appreciation from different states, but also they have expressed the desire to follow this policy in their states”.
For instance, in 2017, showing keen interest in the online transfer policy, UP’s BJP government had urged the Haryana officials to explain the concept. Not willing to be quoted, a senior IAS officer who was instrumental in the introduction of online transfer system, claims, “Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Assam, Rajasthan, and Punjab have taken the idea from Haryana’s online transfer model. They have formulated or are in the process of doing so (after) making some changes in it as per local requirements”.
Of course, not everyone is happy with online system of postings. Haryana Vidyalaya Adhyapak Sangh spokesperson Wazir Singh points out that there are many discrepancies in the online transfers policy. “Instead of the education department’s information technology cell, the system is handled by a firm in Pune. In case of any grievance, it’s difficult to fix it. Further, despite the online system, many transfers have been executed manually, because of political reasons, which has disturbed the entire data as the system does not accept these changes,” he says. He is also not happy with the initiation of transfer process in the middle of the academic session this year. “The policy appears concerned just about the teachers, and not the students, as it leaves the schools situated in far flung areas with very few teachers. Teachers, students and parents should be heard to improve the policy,” says Singh.
Not satisfied with the policy, Congress MLA and former Education Minister Geeta Bhukkal says, “It’s not as transparent as is being claimed since there is scope of favouritism in it. If a teacher is offering good teaching skills to students then he or she should not be asked to participate in the transfer process after five years. In our government, we were empowered to give relief to the teachers concerned in any emergency, including medical reasons”.
The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), led by former Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, is also not impressed with the policy. “The teachers are very upset with this system but they can’t speak against it because of service rules. The decreasing number of students in government schools shows that it has failed to improve the level of studies in the schools,” says R S Chaudhry, Secretary General of the INLD and a retired IAS officer.
But even though many have pointed out loopholes in the online system some of them also admit its advantages. “At least now there is no corruption in transfers. Further, ‘chits’ (recommendation letters) from ministers and MLAs (members of legislative Assembly) are no longer required for this,” says Wazir Singh.