Abolish In-chargism in School Education

Showkat Ahmad Wani
In school education department various vacant posts are filled by placing officials at these vacancies as In-charge Lecturers, In-charge Headmasters, In-charge Principals, In-charge Zonal Education Officers, In-charge Chief Education Officers, In-charge Joint Directors on the basis of seniority of the respective cadre. The practice has been going on for decades. After getting placed on higher posts although in an in-charge capacity, the officers get new energy, vitality, gear up to serve the society and try to come to the expectations of the department. The in-charge promotees try to deliver to the best of their ability and judgment for smooth administrative and academic functioning of the department. At the time of placement as in- charge of any cadre, the beneficiary joyfully goes to far off places, hard zones including Leh and Kargil districts, because on one side there is sense of excitement for being granted higher responsibility and on the other side, in the heart of hearts there is due faith and conviction that he/she may get his/her services confirmed and will get the benefits of the placement as in- charge in due course of time. In such optimism an in-charge officer leaves his old aged parents, family behind at a time when they needed him/her the most. He does not care about his domestic issues and sets on the path to prove that he can deliver. The In-charges of various cadres keep the system functional as they handle different key positions and serve at various hierarchies in the department. Presently Education Department has approximately 10330 sanctioned posts of lecturers, and 50 percent of lecturer posts are occupied by in-charge lecturers, performing duties at every nook and corner of the erstwhile state. The department has a total of 1705 sanctioned posts of Headmasters and equivalent (1594 headmasters and 111 ZEPO’s,) and all the officers presently manning these posts are in-charge Headmasters. Similarly there are 941 sanctioned posts of Principals and equivalent (Principles 770, Dy.CEO’s 12, DEPO’s 12 , DIET HOD’s 147), and all the officers managing these positions are in-charge officers. Story does not end here, we have a total of 196 sanctioned posts of Zonal Educational Officers and equivalent (ZEO’s 188, Head Qtr Assistants 8) and all those performing duties on these posts are In-charge officers.
The above data clearly reveals that it is the In-charge Officers who are managing the major activities/ initiatives of the department and keep the system functioning smoothly.
From year 2008 onwards, no regularization /confirmation through DPC/PSC of In-charge Principals & Equivalent/In-charge Zonal Education Officers and Equivalent has been granted. Similarly from year 2012 onwards no confirmation by DPC/PSC took place for In-charge lecturers and In-charge Headmasters and equivalent cadres. The same resulted in accumulation of more than ten thousand in-charge officers during this period of more than a decade. This period witnessed a large number of in- charge Officers from all cadres retiring without confirmation of their in- charge promotions, a good numbers of them even expired without getting the benefits of the service they had rendered as an in-charge officer. Realizing the gravity of this human issue , the then State Cabinet in the year 2018 and then State Administrative Council in the year 2019, granted one time exemption to the education department for considering the cases of all in-charge officers (working /retired/ expired) for confirmation through an empowered committee on case to case basis, after fulfillment of certain parameters by each in-charge officer like APRs, work and conduct certificate, vigilance clearance, integrity certificate and other things. The process set into motion, the completion of formalities by in-charge officers of all cadres. Much of inconvenience was faced by retired ones and families of expired in-charge officers. Retired in their old age, abnormal health conditions, weak physique had to run from pillar to post to complete the formalities and somehow they completed. The families of expired in- charge officers had to face a tough time as they were naïve to the departmental norms but hoping enhancement in their family pension they made all efforts and completed the formalities also. The working class with much fanfare also completed the said official formalities. One DPC meeting was conducted by empowered committee in July 2019 and almost 350 In-charge officers were confirmed. Thereafter from the last one year more than 9000 in-charge officers of various cadres including retired and families of expired ones are eagerly waiting but nothing tangible is happening and their hopes are dying with each passing day. They are waiting impatiently for the day when their services rendered as in-charge officers to the department are recognized and they are granted their due and deserving right of confirmation and they get an enhancement in their pension or family pension. Of late a new era dawned, lost confidence of hopeless rejuvenated, pessimists turned optimists, because dynamic Dr Asgar Hassan Samoon Sahab took over the reins of the Education Department. Akin to his administrative abilities, in a short span of time he has taken some revolutionary measures for overhauling the system and many chronic issues lingering from decades have been addressed. The in-charge officers are hopeful that this time they may not be made to wait long .The services they have rendered, need to be recognized ,so that their dignity is restored , and this human issue needs to be settled and settled, once for all.
Since Dr Samoon has started reforming and overhauling the system through revolutionary measures, it would be a yeoman’s service, if in future the in-chargism in education department is abolished once for all. Instead of placing people as in-charges on various hierarchies, why cannot Department of Education beforehand initiate required steps for completion of formalities of the officials coming under consideration zone of promotion , put up their cases before DPC/PSC and thereafter grant the confirmed promotion to such eligible officials so that at the time of retirement they would not be forced to eat a humbles pie for realizing that their pensions are being settled in the grades prior to their in-charge promotion. They may not be put to inconvenience for running from office to office for collection of various papers in fragile health conditions and above all families of the expired in-charge officers may not curse the in- charge promotion of their beloveds who may have departed.
(The author is I/c Lecturer Political Science HSS D.H.Pora Kulgam)