(Image for representation purpose)
Samnath Patel (name changed), working at government school number 23 in Ahmedabad’s Behrampura, was on Tuesday morning asked to report for duty at the Tagore Memorial Hall. A non-teaching official assignment is not unusual for Patel or government teachers, but this coincided with the State Government’s much-touted Shikshak Sajjata Survekshan or teacher preparedness survey.
So, Patel was assumed to have reported for the survey and considered on duty.
The teacher preparedness survey was actually a test of sorts that Gujarat Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama had claimed was voluntary and would not add or take away from the service records of the teachers.
But the nearly 2 lakh government teachers would not believe any of it and were on a day-long hunger strike along with their families on Tuesday – in effect some 10 lakh people may have gone without food for the entire day. The teachers claimed the government was almost putting them to a test in the name of a voluntary exercise since they had burnt their fingers earlier.
Samnath Patel’s case, the teacher leaders point out, only shows how casual the government is about its so-called survey on how well-equipped the teachers are for their job. “This is the perfect example of the two-faced government when it comes to the Education Department, which is making good strides, otherwise,” Rashtriya Shaikshik Mahasangh president Ghanshyambhai Patel asserted.
Reports from across the State suggested that the teachers gave a cold shoulder to the government’s survey efforts and almost boycotted it. At several places, almost no one showed up and the OMR sheets were distributed in the empty classrooms.
Pooh-poohing the Education Minister’s claims it was a voluntary survey, Ghanshyam Patel said, “If it was not an exam and only a survey the Gujarat Council of Educational Research and Training (GCERT) should have conducted it and not the State Examination Board.”
The distrust of teachers is linked to the CCE (Continuous & Comprehensive Evaluation) for computer introduction in schools, billed as a voluntary exercise, which was subsequently used as a marker for increment and other incentives over a decade ago.
“The CCE that was conducted to make the teachers aware about computers was later used as a marker for increment and many teachers are suffering till now,” says Ghanshyambhai.
“Such a survey has not been conducted by any other state. Why should we appear for the exam in the cloak of a survey that has created a lot of stress for teachers during the pandemic,” he added.
A good fat budget has been allotted to the survey by the education department while many teachers are suffering due to the pandemic without everyday essentials.
“The teachers who tragically died due to Covid’s families are granted the pension of just ₹ 2,000 and the money spent on the survey which could have been easily conducted at schools under the supervision of professors,” says Ghanshyambhai.
The teachers are made to work in different departments, even during Covid, they were given other duties which are not related to education. “The teachers’ duties should be limited to educational duties only,” he says.
Patel pointed out that it was because of their strike that the State Government was forced to call them on August 26 for a long-pending discussion about a litany of demands, including basic pay grades.