Cracking down on ‘errant’ teachers Surprise visits to schools

Education Minister S Rajen Singh appears to be a man on a mission and so far at least 19 school teachers have been placed under suspension for absenteeism. To be sure the swift action taken by the Education Minister will have an immediate effect and school teachers can certainly be expected to be more regular and punctual. The Minister has made it clear that he means business and the surprise visits paid by him and his team of officials should not be taken to mean that this is just another exercise aimed at playing to the gallery. Make them examples and remind others that the same fate will befall them if they continue to shirk their duties, is the message that the Education Minister seems to be ringing out. This is fine but the bigger question is whether such a move will have a lasting impact on the work culture of all those in the teaching profession. Look at the issue from a bigger dimension and it should be clear that it is not only teachers who go easy on the job, for which they are paid and for which they are known, but almost all Government employees. This is perhaps what has made anything to do with the Government seem so lethargic, where nothing moves until and unless the right string is pulled. The move initiated by the Education Minister should ideally have a cascading effect and other departments should take a leaf or two out of what has happened and is happening. The axe should fall not only on school teachers but on all employees who are found shirking their duties without batting an eye lid. The suspended teachers were found absent from their work place but how punctuality ? Will the surprise visits of the Minister and his team also study the punctuality of the teachers or will only those found absent be pulled up ?
That at least 19 teachers have been suspended in the last 48 hours (February 23 and February 24) should also serve as an indication of why Government schools continue to put up such pathetic shows in the HSLC examinations year after year. The surprise visits and the course of action taken up so far should also be supplemented by a  process of course correction. The idea behind such drives should be understood in its correct perspective. Look at the work culture of all Government employees and see what steps may be taken up. And it remains that the first step should start from the top. Set examples. Let those who come higher in the pecking order lead from the front. Taking the examples of the teaching community, let the head of each and every institution make it a point to be the first person to be in school or office and let him or her be the last to leave office. The reason why the Education Minister has launched the current drive should also be understood in its perspective. Education, this what should be understood in the inspection visits and the course of action that has been taken up against some erring teachers. Let the right lesson be learnt and that is no one should be allowed to take their job or profession for granted. Moreover it is time for all concerned, particularly the school teachers that educating the young school children is their primary duty.