Sheikh Gulzar Ahmad
An in-charge lecturer suffers from identity crisis, economic crisis, and existential crisis! It was a huge step that the department of education took when it provided higher secondary students with lecturers in all subjects, filling posts that were lying vacant for ages. The education department also met the long standing demand of teachers by promoting them from masters to lecturers. This gave a new lease of life to the system of education at higher secondary level and it reflected in a surge in enrolment of students. The distant places of Leh and Kargil saw for the first time their full quota of lecturers as a huge number of in-charge lecturers were transferred to the hard “zone three”. The freshly appointed lecturers started new assignments of teaching at plus-two level with energy and excitement.
The in-charge lecturers waited eagerly for confirmation after the completion of six months, but it didn’t happen. The six months changed to one year and then on and on. It is year 2020 now, though the promotion orders were issued in 2012-13. The in-charge system is still in place.
The in-charge lecturers have been assigned all sorts of duties as gazetted officers, whether as special officers in Back-to-Village initiatives, as Nodal Officers for government projects, or Superintendents in exams. They are tasked with preparing study material, video lessons, assignments, imparting trainings to teachers, appointing teachers in Leh and Kargil by evaluating their answer books (in 2015), in addition to their normal duties.
The in-charge lecturers feel excited to stand up to the challenges that come their way but their souls are hurt when they have to sign themselves as lecturers in-charge, as from junior assistants to senior officers in the department know and enjoy the reality that they are not what a confirmed or PSC appointed lecturer is. This reality has created psychological problems for them as they fail to convince society as well as their family that they are at par with other gazetted officers in the government.
This shoddy state of affairs is badly adding to the stress level in the community of in-charge lecturers. We are in a dilemma whether we are masters or lecturers even after years of performing our duties legitimately at higher secondary level along with all additional assignments.
The in-charge system is a big stigma from day one in the education department. It is irksome to see two types of gazetted officers working under the same DDO being treated differently. The work is equally shared, the challenges are equally accepted, the orders are equally followed, but the equity is missing when it comes to honour and dignity. In-charge lecturers are second-grade officials in their own offices.
The extremely painful story is that since the orders for confirmation were issued in 2012, hundreds of in-charge lecturers have retired, died, or neared the age of retirement but the confirmation is still a distant dream. This can be seen as a human rights violation as a retired officer has to run from pillar to post after his retirement for due benefits at the fag end of life. He has to hold his service records under his armpit and beg every official from top to bottom to fix his records. In the event he dies, his family (who are alien to the system) have to experience the disgusting situation of following up on the pension case and settlement of other financial matters while answering unexpected queries raised by officials.
It is pertinent to mention here that the State Administrative Council (SAC) gauged the seriousness of this sad saga in January 2019, and under one-time exemption the confirmation of these officers was considered. But it yielded no result. In fact, the meeting of the high-powered committee in July 2019 confirmed a handful of in-charge lecturers but left a huge number of them alternating between hope and despair since then.
There is now a ray of hope as the in-charge lecturers feel that their confirmation is imminent now. We have a doyen in the chair of the Principal Secretary Education who is an officer of national repute and dignity. It is expected that Dr Asgar Samoon sa’ab feels the trauma of the in-charge lecturers in the education department. The Issue demands urgent examination so that confirmation orders are issued soon in their favour. These are the officers of fallen fortune who burn their midnight oil to see the department moving to next level of excellence under the commanding authority of the Honourable Commissioner Secretary Education.
The writer is an in-charge English lecturer. [email protected].