Monday, February 23, 2015

Prepped for school

Books and uniform supplies delivered to district offices, transfer confusion to resolve in another fortnight at most

A new academic session has begun, and even though things will still take some time to settle down, what with the teacher transfer confrontation and still awaited filling of substantial vacancies in teaching posts, at least the supply of the basics of text books and other educational aids like exercise copies and uniforms will not be delayed. The Human Resource Development Department, it is informed, has reached the supply of text books and exercise copies to its district offices. Heads of the respective schools in turn have been urged to pick up their required number of text books and copies from the respective stores, Jitendra Singh Raje, Director Higher Education, who is also in-charge of text-books section told Sikkim NOW! Completion of distribution onwards to the students should take, at the most, another ten days, the Director adds.
When asked about the continuing confusion in some sectors in connection with the teacher transfers, Mr. Raje states that even these should be sorted out within a fortnight.
Slightly over 1,000 [of the around 11,000 total teaching staff in government schools] were transferred ahead of the winter vacations. A section of these teachers had alleged “political victimization” and challenged the transfers. The government stood its ground and warned of strict disciplinary action against teachers who did not report to their new posts at the start of the new academic session – 16 Feb 2015. It appears that the teachers decided against disobedience and almost all of them were on duty on opening day.
The Director informs that only around 90 of the transferred teachers did not report to their new places of posting on the first day. The Department is looking into this and will initiate action against those who willfully disrespected their transfer orders it is informed. In many cases however, there could be genuine reasons behind the “truancy” since the 1,066 name long transfer list had several clerical errors. In fact, the Department recently issued a corrigendum involving around 200 names to the transfer list. Some teachers who had not reported to their new schools on opening day told Sikkim NOW! that they could not do so because they had not received their relieving orders. Most such teachers received these documents on the first day and are now in the process of shifting.
As for the situation at schools, there was initially some confusion over which students were entitled to free text-books and uniforms this session. These are provided free to Sikkimese students till class VIII by the government and there was talk that closer scrutiny of documents will be undertaken this year before students are handed over these items free. For families which might have been worried about stricter guidelines, there is good news, the free supply will continue for all wards of bonafide residents of the State and not exclusively to students from families with Certificate of Identification.
The HRDD has directed all school heads to examine domicile documents of students before issuing free uniforms, text books and copies. The same list is to be furnished to the office of the respective district Joint Directors of the HRDD.
The criteria for free supply has been kept compassionately wide. The State government has issued instruction that that students from families which posses Sikkim Subject Certificates or Certificates of Identification, or Trade License, or Voter Card or Residential Certificates issued by the concerned SDMs are entitled to free text-books, exercise copies, uniforms and shoes. Effectively then, everyone with bonafide credentials to be residing in Sikkim “legally” for a length of time and has wards in government school, is covered under this scheme.
Interestingly, the department does not have ready data at hand on this number and hopes to have a complete database on it after the school heads submit details from their respective schools to it.
Meanwhile, Mr. Raje further informs that the State Education, Research & Training [SERT] unit of the HRDD has developed text-books to reduced the book-load for students up to class V. Books for higher classes are published as per NCERT approved academic curriculum.

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