Teachers’ Transfer Process alleged to be Mired in Corruption, Bias
GUWAHATI: Though the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claims to be successfully combating corruption in Assam, all is not well in the state’s education department as there are allegations of corruption and bias in the entire teachers’ transfer process.
A Guwahati-based private company employee, Mrigankar Das (name changed) paid Rs 80,000 to a relative of his who works in the Directorate of Elementary Education to get his wife transferred to Guwahati. Das said, “Only because my relative is working there I managed the transfer for Rs 80,000. Else, to get a transfer to Guwahati, the education department officials take at least Rs 1.5 lakhs to Rs 2 lakhs.
A female lower primary school teacher who holds a permanent job and works in a school in Barpeta is fed up of applying for her transfer to Guwahati since the last five years through the legal process. Her transfer remains pending.
Talking to G Plus under condition of anonymity she said, “My parents are not well and my sister is married. I badly need a transfer to any school in Guwahati but because I am not paying the bribe I am not being transferred.” She revealed that after Siddhartha Bhattacharya took charge as the education minister in April 2018, many of her colleagues are getting transferred and most of them by paying bribes.
She said, “The candidates go to Guwahati directorate of elementary education office, Kahilipara, where lower level employees deal with them.” There is a nexus of officials from directorate’s office to the high level bureaucrats who are sitting in the Assam Secretariat in Dispur.
She said, “I have also talked to one such agent in Guwahati who asked for Rs 1.5 lakhs for a transfer to Kamrup (Metro) and Rs 1 lakhs to Kamrup rural.” She is mulling paying the amount as she desperately requires a transfer to Guwahati to take care of her ailing parents.
Similarly, all other departments under the ministry of education are alleged to be involved in corruption.
A secondary school teacher in Barak Valley said that any transfer request in Barak Valley is processed only in Guwahati. After the request is made with the office of the Inspector of Schools, the request is sent to Guwahati and later the candidate has to pay a bribe in Guwahati to secure the transfer. “No one can get an opted transfer without paying bribes,” the teacher said.
An ACS level officer in the education department, talking to G Plus under condition of anonymity said, “It cannot be ruled out that there is no corruption in education department because recently many transfers were processed. Though the process was legal, there might be corruption involved as the transfers were random in nature.”
It seems the transfers are either processed if there is a strong ministerial level reference or if the candidate has bribed the officials. The modus operandi of corruption starts from the lower level as only the grade 4 level officials directly deal with the candidates. While taking money the officials even cover their faces, a teacher said.
The entire transfer process witnessed a change after Siddhartha Bhattacharya joined as the education minister in April 2018. Prior to that, the transfer process was stopped by the former education minister, Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma.
According to a teacher, Bhattacharya even announced to form a committee which would look into transfer matters, but nothing of that sort materialized.
No new initiative to improve education in last one year
Though the main election card which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is playing for 2019 elections is development, nothing is developing in the education department since the last one year.
Education department officials told G Plus that since the new education Siddhartha Bhattacharya took charge in May 2018, there have been no new initiatives or rules that have been introduced.
The Assam Budget for 2018-19 proposed new schemes for women, including scholarships for girl children belonging to minority communities and improving women health and safeguard.
Finance Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma had announced incentives for girl children but it has not started yet.
He had said that an annual scholarship of Rs 2,000, Rs 4,000, Rs 6,000 and Rs 10,000 was proposed for girl students belonging to minority communities studying in class 10, 11, 12, graduation and post-graduation, respectively. Many such students have not got any such incentives yet.
Other than this there is no new scheme that has been announced. And after Bhattacharya became the education minister, no initiative has been taken to improve the education system, a government teacher said in condition of anonymity.
There are more than 36,500 vacant posts of teachers in schools across Assam and 17,293 of these vacant posts are in primary schools. Because the vacancies remain, the quality of education is getting affected.
Bhattacharya had recently revealed that one of the reasons behind vacant posts not being filled on time is that school officials do not inform the elementary education department in advance about the teachers who are set to retire.
The schools have been asked to inform the education department 180 days before a teacher retires.
But it will hardly solve the issue as there is huge discrepancy in the student-teacher ratio in the government schools of Assam.