Politically connected teachers amass in Budgam’s urban schools, bringing rural schools to the verge of closure
Budgam: Dozens of schools in urban areas of this central Kashmir’s district have been listed as “high tension schools for sub-ordinate officials” by the education department. Teachers in these schools, instead of going to their original postings in rural areas, have got themselves attached in urban schools, thus trouncing J&K government’s rationalisation policy.
Listing such schools as “high tension schools for sub ordinate officials” was prompted by the situation that the junior staff find themselves in. Most of these teachers are relatives of top bureaucrats and can intimidate the junior staff. “One who stands against them (on any issue) will be transferred to far off places,” sources claim.
J&K Government had taken the initiative of rationalising schools for improving the quality of education and to streamline teacher-pupil ratio. The guidelines insist that schools should have one teacher each for thirty students in a school.
But this initiative of rationalisation could shut down as many as 219 schools in the district as the number of students in these schools far exceeds the 1:30 teacher student ratio.
At Government High School Humhama, for example, which falls in an urban area of the district, the student-teacher ratio has almost reached 1:1, an official document reveals. Simalarly, the ratio at Primary School Sheikhpora is 1:3, and at Government high school B K Pora, the ratio is 1:4. Same is the case in several other urban schools where the ratio hovers between 1:2 and 1:4.
In contrast, primary schools at Meeripora of in rural Narbal zone exceeds 1:50. Middle School Alamnag, in education zone Khag, has only 8 teachers for 150 students of eight class.
“The education system is badly affected by nepotism,” said a senior teacher, Gulzar Ahmad, posted in a rural school. He says that the education system has been turned into a better employment industry by bureaucrats.
“It is a safe place for relatives of politically connected people who keep them posted at far flung schools where they draw handsome salaries but never bother to visit,” he said. He claimed that almost 80 percent of the employees have escaped their original postings.
“However, this has dire consequences for the academic career of rural students, and contributes to the widening gap in results and pathways for students born in rural areas compared to their urban counterparts,” says ZEO Hardapanzu, Ghulam Ahmad Bhat.
Another high official said that in the length and breadth of J&K, education department has become “a mafia where political dons call shots”.
“There has no means of accountability, neither to such teachers nor the officials. NGOs come and go, just minting money here and there, and waste human resources,” he said.
Chief education officer Budgam, Abdul Rouf, and Education minister, Altaf Bukhari, did not respond to repeated calls and texts.