Chandigarh govt schools have one of the best infrastructure: Education Secretary

With another year left for his tenure to get over, Education Secretary B L Sharma talks to Indian Express to explain why teachers should be more responsible and how the system can be strengthened from the inside.

In a rare move, the UT education department has served show cause notices, suspension and even termination notices to teachers due to poor Class X CBSE results in government schools. Teachers retaliated by staging protests against the “unfair” action and criticised the no-detention policy under the Right to Education Act and the Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation system.

With another year left for his tenure to get over, Education Secretary B L Sharma talks to Indian Express to explain why teachers should be more responsible and how the system can be strengthened from the inside.

Teachers have been up in arms against the education department of late for serving show cause notice, suspension and termination notices. Do you think it is feasible for this dissatisfaction to breed? After all, teachers directly deal with students.

Instead of looking inward and resolving to perform better, teachers are spouting absurdities. Their stand is illegal, immoral and harmful for the future of the students. A large number of teachers have failed miserably and because we took a symbolic action against poor performance, they are ready to spoil students’ career.

This is a crucial year as the students who have been promoted to Class 9 have studied eight years under the Right to Education Act. They have never failed an exam before. What measures is the department going to take to improve the results in government schools?

We will be taking up a number of issues in the next 5 to 10 days, starting from rationalisation of manpower in schools. We have recently deployed 15 principals and heads where they were needed. We will put a full stop to the grace marks policy. Those teachers whose performance is not up to the mark are already holding remedial classes for students who have failed to clear the exam. I have strictly told principals and heads that they should perform and lead from the front. If a teacher is not performing well, then that should reflect in their ACR. We have also requested the State Council of Educational Research and Training to hold training sessions for subjects in which students have performed poorly.

Teachers have alleged that they were forced by the district education department to give grace marks to promote students to Class 10 as a “one-time” chance. Will there be any monitoring within the department to keep a check on the promotion of such practices?

If need be, we will transfer department officials who are not performing up to the mark. I have told my people too that they have to bear the responsibility as they are the link between the schools and the government. I will ensure performance-based action and keep officials on their toes.

Teachers have also blamed policies such as no-detention and CCE.

I agree that the no-detention policy is unhealthy and the government, I think, is making some amendments to that. But it cannot be an excuse for teachers who have performed poorly. There are those who have performed exceedingly well too, including teachers, in some periphery schools.

What are the landmark achievements in education policies that have benefited teachers and students in the last decade?

In my time, I sat on mats and walked 6 km to school daily. Our schools did not have free lunches or proper toilets. But our teachers were excellent. Things have changed for the better now. Policies such as the mid-day meal and free education have opened up new avenues. Focus on student-teacher ratio, scientific methods of teaching and holistic development have brought a revolutionary change even in areas where resources are limited.

You have another year to go. How has your experience been so far?
Teachers get handsome salaries compared to other states and UTs. The transport and civic facilities in school are excellent. We have some brilliant principals, heads and teachers too and a lot of talent among the students. But the only issue is of monitoring that we will take up to the best of our ability. Students will be tested internally and they will be trained to appear for the board examination. I also feel that students should work hard because nothing is insurmountable. With regular testing, they will be sensitised with how to appear for these exams. We will arrange for talks and seminars to motivate them

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