Legislators from all the three districts of central Kashmir on Tuesday pointed out the grey areas in the education department and asked the government to overcome the loopholes to improve the functioning of the department.
The lawmakers were speaking at an education meet convened by the Minister for Education, Syed Muhammadd Altaf Bukhari at Banquet hall here.
The legislators highlighted the lack of proper accommodation, teaching staff and other basic facilities in the educational institutions in all the three districts of central Kashmir.
Speaking at the occasion, Minsieter for Agriculture Ghulam Nabi Lone who represents Chrar-e-Shareef Assembly segment of Budgam district stressed on improving the infrastructural facilities besides streamlining the teacher student ratio in schools.
“I have some example wherein department has schools with 10 students and 12 teachers while some schools are teacher deficient,” he said.
He said the department should also implement the transfer policy in letter and spirit and avoid mid-session transfers of teachers in schools.
“The mid-session transfers mars the functioning of the schools and hampers the academics,” he said.
Another legislator, Hakeem Muhammad Yaseen said the teachers in government schools are engaged with construction of school buildings and maintenance of Mid-Day Meals records which has deviated their attention from academics.
“The practice should be stopped and department should have its own engineering wing for this purpose,” he said.
He said department should focus on providing proper accommodations in schools which will attract the student and enhance academic standards as well.
“In our area, we have some wherein students are forced to stay at home during rains. They have only three rooms in Middle schools and at times they take their classes in open,” he said.
Legislator Mian Altaf lambasted the government for “neglecting” the schools set up in remote areas saying that the educational institutions sans basic facilities.
“The government approach towards schools in remote areas in biased. Schools in my area sans basic facilities and don’t have requisite teaching staff,” he said.
He said the department has put the construction of school buildings sanctioned in previous years, at the back burner which has deprived the students in these schools of basic facilities.
“Schools are constructed haphazardly and in some cases construction work in halted because of land issues which later results in cost escalation of the building,” Altaf said.
MLA Batamaloo, MLC Saif-u-din Bhat, MLC Khurshid Alam also highlighted loopholes in the department and asked the government to take up measures to overcome the loopholes in order to make the department a better performer.
Later in the meeting, Syed Muhammad Altaf Bukhari said the lack of ownership of government run schools in society was a reason for poor performance of the schools and sought involvement of legislators for better performance of the department.
“I request you to give your three days to education sector in a month. I promise your suggestions and other recommendations will be entertained,” the minister said.
Expressing concern over declining enrollment in government schools the minister sought constitution of a committee to identify the reasons and suggest measures to overcome the problem.
“A committee should be framed which will do an exercise to point the reasons for declining number of students in schools and the committee will also suggest measures for improving the enrollment,” he said.
About the transfer policy, the minister said policies are framed in idealistic situation but in J&K’s education department transfers are done on health grounds, security, marriage and humanitarian grounds. “At times we use personal approach for transfers. But I believe that if my teachers are comfortable then only they will deliver. I hope teachers will also reciprocate the same way,” he said.
About the issue of up gradation of schools, the minister rued limited availability of resources and asked the legislators to submit their recommendations on basis of the requirement of Higher Secondary Schools in their respective areas.
“Will submit the same recommendations to GoI for its sanction,” he said.
He said the department will ensure that 40 percent of the schools will be equipped with sanitation facilities this year while as 25 percent of construction work on left out buildings will be started in every constituency.
“Teachers are engaged in construction of school buildings but the department we will soon have its own engineering wing which will be involved in execution of civil works in the department,” he said.
He asked the legislators to recommend Non-Government Organization (NGO) from their districts who will be engaged to run Mid-Day Meals (MDM) scheme in schools.
The minister also said the Chief Education Officers were not only accountable to the education ministry but to the legislators as well.
“You are not only accountable to the minister but also to the legislators. Cooperate with them, seek their advice and they will help in making the department to perform in a better way,” he said.
Secretary School education department, Farooq Ahmad Shah in his address said the department was concerned about providing quality education in schools.
“It is a fact that funds are unutilized under RMSA, SSA and State plan but efforts will be made to provide proper accommodations, requisite staff and other facilities to the students,” he said.
He asked the CEOs to conduct regular inspection of schools in their respective district. “You should at least inspect the schools three days in every week,” he said.