Let us unite for quality education !

Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat
These days the Rehbar e Taleem (ReT) teachers are on a warpath against the Government . They have come on roads protesting against the decision of the Government to conduct screening of their educational qualification certificates.  The ReT teachers forum supported by J&K Teachers Forum (JKTF) term the Government’s decision tyrannical , illegal and disgraceful and have demanded its withdrawal.  The academicians , civil society on the other hand are supporting  the Government’s move for streamlining education system.
Background :
The Government recently took the decision of conducting screening of degree certificates obtained Rehbar e Taleem teachers (ReT’s) . This decision has been  taken on the directions of J&K High Court. Pertinent to mention that in May this year J&K High Court directed the education department to undertake screening test of Rehbar-e-Taleem (ReT) teachers who have acquired qualification degrees through doubtful manner. The high court has ordered for constitution of a committee by the education department which shall be responsible to find out all the degrees certificates issued in favour of such candidates, who have been  selected as ReT teachers. It has been observed that many candidates have obtained degree certificates from various universities through illegal means. By producing these educational qualification certificates before competent authorities , many candidates are said to have been appointed as ReT teachers across state. A single bench of  Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar issued the said order while  hearing a petition, challenging empanelment of a candidate from Qazigund area of South Kashmir who figured in the list of selected candidates for being engaged as Rehba e Taleem (ReT) at Kurigam Qazigund. The petitioner challenging the said ReT’s appointment  had alleged before the High Court ,  that the  study centre, through which Mr X  obtained the degree of 10+2 was not recognized by J&K State Board of School Education . He alleged the degree was acquired without taking any examination. As Mr X was present in the court during the case hearing , the bench asked him to write an essay on cow in Urdu and English. Paper and pen was provided to him but after five minutes, he could not write a single word. He then urged that he may be allowed to write said essay outside the Court Room which the court conceded but he again failed to do it. Thereafter, he said he can solve any problem or question of mathematics. Court asked an advocate to frame some questions of 4th primary so that he could solve the same but  Mr X could not solve the basic mathematics sums as well.  “One does not know as to how many such candidates, with such degrees, stand appointed as teachers in the School Education Department. In this situation, what would be the fate of future of the State, has to be only visualized,” reads the order. The High Court subsequently, directed the Director School Education Department Kashmir to refer the matter to the concerned police for registration of a case and initiate action against the owner of the study centre as well as Mr X.
Minister implementing HC’s orders :
The Education sector in Jammu & Kashmir has suffered a lot from the last few decades. It became a direct casualty due to wrong policies of the Government .  Inefficient , irresponsible and corrupt people headed our school education department in past. The directorates of School education in Kashmir and Jammu used to be centers   for touts and corrupt elements until recently. We are now lucky enough to have a man like Naeem Akhtar who heads our Education Ministry and if he tries to implement the Hon’ble High Court orders for public good why are our Government school teachers unhappy with this  decision ? I myself had an interaction with  two Government school teachers in a remote area of Bandipora district few months back .  I swear they didn’t know how to write the roman alphabets. If the Government wants to screen the documents of all those ReT teachers, having  obtained degree certificates by illegal means without even appearing for an examination as in case of Mr X (mentioned above)  what is wrong in it ? When we fail to get justice from executive we knock the doors of judiciary and if there has been an judicial intervention vis a vis ReT teachers appointment , why are our Re T’s and other teachers unhappy with this decision ?  Education Minister has made it clear that in first phase only the qualification certificates would be screened and cross checked by a specially constituted  team .The decision of asking the ReT teachers to appear for written exams will be taken separately by the Government . Even if this  exam has to be conducted soon and the ReT’s are asked to appear for such test, what is wrong in it ? Why are our teachers scared to appear for an examination ?
Conclusion :
Education is not only the backbone of society but it is considered to be the food and soul of democracy as well. I have met scores of Government school children and it is so unfortunate that a class 9th boy could not write name of his own district neither in urdu nor in english . But certain initiatives taken on the direction of Education Minister is making a change at grass-root level. The New Leaf Initiative (NLI) in Bandipora district has brought a revolution in education sector. NLI lead by Deputy Commissioner Bandipora along with a group of young officers, civil society , NGO’s has shown us the way . I personally believe that a child is never in-efficient provided he gets good guidance and this I have  learnt with NLI team in Bandipora. The Government school children who could not even write their names until recently have picked up a lot after their school teachers were made accountable and answerable by the district administration. We can compromise if our roads are not good , or we can live without having a  better electricity supply  , but we cannot afford to compromise if our children are deprived of quality education as they happen to be our future.  So let us join this campaign to support Government’s move on educational reforms and get united for quality education.
Feedback:  muzaffar.rti@gmail.com

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