KL NEWS NETWORK
Calling upon the teachers to join hands for changing the system of education, Minister of Education, Naeem Akhtar, said Thursday the teacher fraternity should become guardians of over 17 lakh students enrolled in the government-run schools of J&K.
“We were the source of knowledge but we fell on bad times. At one level, we stopped growing; we stopped looking outwards. At another level, we stopped interacting with the world of knowledge around us. Time has come to catch up with the academic world around us,” Akhtar said.
“Now is a time not to mourn the loss, but to do something that helps us catch up and have our own tryst with destiny,” he added.
The Education Minister was speaking at the opening ceremony of ‘Lakhon Main Ek’ initiative started by the Directorate of School Education in collaboration with Pratham Educational Foundation at SP Higher Secondary School here.
Terming the initiative as a defining moment for the state, Akhtar said the erosion of competencies in the teacher fraternity due to political turmoil should be reversed. “This initiative should take the state to the next level of knowledge, learning and adopting teaching methods that are being practiced in other parts of the world,” he said.
Regretting the violent events of the last two decades, Akhtar said J&K has missed the exciting social and cultural processes, including economic liberalization that swept the country during that time. “We have to make a difference now. The only way of building a strong foundation of a vibrant society is by strengthening the quality of education. Nothing else can change unless we address the fundamental issues in the education system,” he said.
The Minister said the Department of Education has embarked on a mission to change the system. “But I can’t do it alone. It is the responsibility of teachers. We are running short of time and we should seek help from everyone around us,” he said.
Stressing the need to overhaul the system of education, the Minister called for introspection among the teacher fraternity. “Down the line there has been erosion of competencies which is reflecting on the students. Instead of taking ownership of our schools, we spend huge money on the education of our children and dissociate them from the society. This should change,” he said.
Recounting his career as a civil servant, Akhtar said that he has an “unrivalled record of not having suspended any officer during his active service”. “I have deep respect for teachers; I see my father in each one of them. We are not trying to overburden you. We want to put your talent and potential to optimal use,” he said.
Akhtar called upon the School Education Department to assess the progression of students based on their performance by building an internal system of assessment.
The Minister later visited the J&K Institute of Management, Public Administration and Rural Development where he interacted with a group of young, under-training KAS officers.
“If you are looking for progression, an officer has to be the jack of all trades. The generation I am addressing now is intellectually more honest than my own generation and I am sure you will do justice with your jobs,” he said.
Reflecting on the diverse culture of the state, Akhtar said there is no better service left in the entire country like the civil services, where hundreds of people from diverse cultures and religions interact and serve the society.
“If you come to think, no building is, not even the UN, is like our secretariat where people from all regions and religions come to serve their people. If there is any service that has to be proud of its texture, it’s the KAS and that’s why I wanted to keep this tag,” he said, pointing to his refusal to get inducted into the IAS before retiring from service.
Regretting the lack of aptitude among young officers in the state government to serve the far-flung areas of the state, the Minister said he has proposed to the cabinet that the new KAS officers should mandatorily serve outside their province for five years.
“No young officer is volunteering to work outside his home district. The lives of ordinary people are more important for a thriving society. If you can change one life, you have changed the fate of entire humanity,” he said.
“Be conscientious and you will find the world a lot more interesting and exciting that you will find in lobbying for a posting. You are tasked to bridge the gap between the people of the state and exploit the cultural divergences for the betterment of our society,” he said.