‘We are trying to clear the muck left behind by previous regime’
Srinagar: Hitting out at National Conference (NC) working president and former chief minister, Omar Abdullah for his ‘goosy’ remarks over the ReT issue, Minister for Education, Mr Naeem Akhtar today said having presided over the decimation of institutions during the previous NC-Congress coalition, Mr Omar is vainly trying to politicize an issue which is related to the academics of the state.
Mr Akhtar said it is a known fact how the previous regime had turned education department into transfer industry with Rs 10000 to Rs 2 lakh rate list for affecting transfer of teachers, lecturers, headmasters, principals, zonal education officers and others. “It is an irony that Mr Omar Abdullah is now trying to join chorus with the detractors of the pioneering reforms being initiated by the present regime in the education sector as he knows that many skeletons are going to tumble out of his cupboard,” he said.
The Minister accused National Conference (NC) of having a compact with disturbance and Omar Abdullah proved this by his objections to the process of setting the systems right which otherwise where destroyed by the regime presided over by him.
The Minister said that during the regime of previous government the schools were deserted and over 5000 teachers were huddled in Jammu city alone through attachments. He said our government is still trying to discover the extent of tort and fake schools which have been brought to our notice. Such schools have been found in the cities of Srinagar and Jammu, not to speak of far off and distant places, where rents were paid, salaries drawn, mid-day meals served, scholarships distributed, uniforms and books given without a single student actually studying there, he said and added that these schools were nonexistent where teachers draw salaries and located at a stone throw from the secretariat in Jammu and Srinagar where Omar and his Ministers used to preside over their offices.
The Minister said that Omar Abdullah’s government kept the salaries of ReTs withheld for over a year and also diverted those funds because of the fraud which he played to hoodwink the people on the eve of elections, adding that why did not his heart bleed for the teachers at that point of time.
Akhtar said Omar himself studied in Sanawar, Himachal Pradesh and also sent his children to high-end schools outside the State. “Omar Abdullah could have done well with the amount of money that he spends on himself and his children to build one good school,” Akhtar said and added that there is blood on his hands of innocent children that were killed during his regime and also entire education system suffered during his tenure when even teachers were taxed for transfers and promotions.
Akhtar said neither Omar as the then Chief Minister, nor his then Education Minister were aware of, or ever paid heed to these facts because they were themselves a part of that corrupt system. The Minister further added that Omar is first of all accountable to parents of the 16 lakh children studying in government schools and only after that to the people. He said people like Omar have denied basic educational facilities to the children of this State.
Akhtar said it is not the question of his being qualified to do a minister’s job but the larger question is of the masses being deprived of the benefit of Rs 6000 crore annual budget and 24,000 schools and 1.40 lakh teachers serving in these schools.
Reiterating the commitment of the Government to streamline the education system in the State, the Minister said that the present dispensation is making earnest efforts to achieve its aim of providing quality education which is a constitutional right of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, adding that teachers are the actual instrument to bring about this change.
Akhtar said that the Government is not against any section of teachers but is only focussed on providing better education as it forms the basis of success of a society, “education is fundamental to progress in other spheres and if the State wants to succeed on various fronts it has to excel in education” he said. The Minister said that the Government is only complying with the orders of the High Court which has directed the government to conduct the screening test and also act strictly against the issue of fake certificates. He added that though the High Court has asked the authorities to terminate all such teachers who are found to have fake certificates, however, the Government has kept its options open.
Quoting the high Court order Akhtar said, the High Court has made it clear that; “In order to arrest further deterioration in the education system, the Commissioner Secretary to the Government, Education Department, J&K is directed to constitute a committee to look into the hazards which such type of degrees must have caused to the society. The Committee shall be responsible to find out all such degrees/certificates issued in favour of such candidates, who stand selected as ReT/teachers and ask this class of teachers to sit in a screening test to ascertain as to whether they are in a position to teach the students. All such ReT/teachers, who fail in such screening test, their certificates would require to be seized, of course, after affording opportunity of hearing to them. The authorities shall consider termination of their services after following principles of natural justice as same will be in the larger interests of student community and society.”
Akhtar said he is proud to be a part of a team of teachers who are highly qualified, motivated and waiting to be a part of the right time to put in their energies to bring back education sector out of its lost glory. “A positive environment is being built and vested interests like Omar Abdullah and the people around him are getting disturbed,” he said and added it is the poor people around which the NC has traditionally held on to power on basis of ignorance.
The Minister said the present Government is giving focussed attention to the development of education sector in the State and in this regard various reforms have been brought including New Transfer Policy for the benefit of the teachers, establishment of Model Schools, over 7000 VECs established, KGBVs that were non functional have been now revived and made functional, special focus on vocational education, appointment of a full time JKBOSE Chairman, construction of girls hostels, upgradation of Middle Schools to High Schools. While as in Higher Education placement of more than 400 Assistant Professors pending since long cleared, Cluster Universities in Jammu / Srinagar taken up on priority, among various other initiatives.