“Our education sector is full with wives, daughters and acquaintances of bureaucrats.”

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Abdul Qayoom Wani, a resident of Wasun Baghi, Tangmarg, after completing B A, B Ed joined education department as a teacher. In 1991, along with some of his friends, he formed Jammu and Kashmir Teachers’ Association. In 2000, teachers’ forum got converted into EJAC and in 2011 joined hands with other trade unions and formed JCC. Presently the president of EJAC, he tells Syed Asma that absence of proper monitoring has created mess in education sector. 

Abdul Qayoom Wani

Abdul Qayoom Wani

Kashmir Life: As a school teacher are you satisfied with the results of government schools?

Abdul Qayoom Wani: Yes, I am satisfied because we teach the section of students which is different from the ones studying in private schools. My student’s parents are usually poor and illiterate who cannot guide them, nor can they hire afford tuitions. The best students are taken away by the private schools. Even coaching centres have entrance examinations. They select students who they think are capable. Our teachers work on the students who have no other back up like coaching and any other guidance. But there can be lacunae as well. We are 20,000 teachers in the state. There will be many who don’t work. I can’t ensure you that all of them work rigorously on students. Precisely I am satisfied with the results.

KL: What is the reason that government schools cannot compete with private school?

AQW: It is a conspiracy where a number of people are working to make government schools defunct. They want to privatize the entire education sector.

If government is interested to revive it they should bring an ordinance to make it compulsory for every government employee to admit his child in government schools.

This will include students of bureaucrats and administrators. Automatically, administrators will take personal interests in the running of these institutions. Accountability will increase among teachers and other staff members and the system will get improved on its own.  My child studying in a government school will not make much difference but a deputy commissioner’s son will make a huge difference.

KL: What do you think are the reasons why parents prefer private schools more than government?

AQW: Parents will always prefer a better place for their children. In our department, 19,000 posts of subject teachers are vacant for the past seven years, and hence the quality suffers. Secondly, each year the number of schools gets increased but there is no up gradation.  The same single-roomed school which last year was a middle school, this year becomes a high school and the next year becomes higher secondary without upgrading the infrastructure. The only thing that keeps on changing is the board of the institution. There are no laboratories, no up-gradation. All these are tantrums played by MLAs in their constituencies to gain votes. There are many institutions in the states where teachers, lectures, headmasters and principals are not appointed yet.

The basic problem is that our ministers have become constituency oriented rather than state oriented.  They only count the number of schools they have opened and hardly pay attention towards the quality of the education. It is unfortunate but it is true.

KL: What do you think are the reasons behinds the disturbing ratio of students and teachers in the valley?

AQW: Poor government policies. The basic reason for excess of government employees in Srinagar and lack of them in peripheries is HRA. Every government employee gets a 20% hike in his salary if he gets posted in Srinagar. This is the reason teachers prefer to be in Srinagar rather than moving to the peripheries. I think it should have been the other way round. Education sector has not been institutionalized yet, that is the biggest problem. Government should appoint a commission to monitor and reframe the new education policy. They should take suggestions from retired experienced teachers too. We know the budget of education sector has increased manifolds in past few years but mismanagement and lack of accountability has also increased. We should have independent monitoring authorities to monitor different schemes.

To open up a school you have to follow certain norms but in Kashmir it is opened up by the influence of an MLA where his own men will be accommodated. Department of Education is used by an MLA for generating his votes in a particular constituency. I know a guy in Bandipora who had done double M A, a particular MLA made it a point that no school was opened up till that guy turned overage. The MLA later adjusted sons of this worker in the school. Our department is a politically polluted department where even transfer of employees, allotment of schools etc. is highly influenced by the political corridors.  Until it is not distanced away from political control it won’t work decently. I suggest administrative control is a better option.

KL: Do you think government teachers work worth the salaries they get?

AQW: Yes they do. In the beginning of this interview I discussed the section of students whom we teach, so you can’t compare the results of a government school with a private school. Second reason for our poor results is that earlier a teacher or a Zonal Education Officer (ZEO) had to only look into the academic side of the department but now since these schemes have popped up he has to look into food and supplies department, R and B department and many other things which is making the quality of education to suffer. They got involved in mid-day meals and construction works, physically as well as financially. Quality of education deteriorated but corruption in the department increased in general. I had suggested the government that we should separate the financial section from academics but they paid no heed.

But still I am saying our teachers work very hard. For past few years government schools too are managing to secure positions in 10th and 12th classes. But encouragement lacks there, so to have better results accountability and encouragement should be increased in government schools.

KL: Don’t you feel the level of encouragement is high in government sector as compared to private sector taking into account the number of schemes they are enjoying?

AQW: Because of lack of proper monitoring education sector has become a mess.

KL: Why do you think the scenario of government schools is better in Jammu than in Kashmir?

AQW: The scenario is different because policies are different. The major difference is of academic session. In Jammu, a student studies for entire year but in Kashmir our academic session starts in March and ends in September. Our students get just six months to study. And interestingly most of the government teachers are related to bureaucrats in one way or other.  Our education sector is full with wives, daughters and acquaintances of bureaucrats. They have to take them along to Jammu after darbar move, so they shrink the academic sessions, and thus our results suffer.

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About Author

Syed Asma completed her masters in journalism from the Islamic University, Awantipore, in 2010. After working with Greater Kashmir and Kashmir Times, she joined Kashmir Life in February 2011. She covered politics, society, gender issues and the environment. In 2016, she left journalism to pursue her M Phil from the University of Kashmir. She is presently pursuing PhD.

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