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Mainstream, VOL 60 No 45 October 29, 2022

Messed Up Transfers of School Teachers in Haryana: Minister and Senior Officers Must Be Held Accountable | Rajinder Chaudhary

Saturday 29 October 2022

by Rajinder Chaudhary *

Appointments and transfers in government sector have a crucial role not only in the functioning of the government agency concerned but also in the quality of politics of the state too. As a major employer, appointment and transfer policy of a government has a major bearing on politics of the state. In 2016 new BJP government in Haryana had brought in transfer policy for teachers where in transfers were to be ‘carried out only through approved web based application’. It was celebrated by the state government to be a pathbreaking policy initiative. In 2020 state government announced a similar policy for all government departments with the sanctioned strength of 500 or above. Now, in 2022 for the fourth time online transfers of school teachers in Haryana are underway again. Six years and fourth time is a good enough period for any agency to overcome teething troubles. So, it is justified to review its functioning. Moreso as online transfer policy for other government departments is similar to one for school teachers.

As per official transfer policy timeframe for transfers of teachers has been set for April-May [1]. This is meant to ensure that transfers are affected right at the outset of new academic session and teaching is not unduly disturbed due to transfers. However, this year, even in the month of October, this process has not been completed. This is in spite of the fact that even as per belatedly announced schedule on 25th July, two rounds of first phase of transfers involving regular teachers of non-primary schools were to be completed by 19th August. However, by 2nd September only the first round of transfer of regular teachers (excluding primary school teachers) were issued (modifications have continued thereafter). As of this weekend (October 9, 2022) second phase involving transfers of “Guest Teachers” (teachers not appointed in regular mode but retained for normal full-length service) is yet to be completed. Completion of these two phases would still leave out primary school teachers, whose transfer process is yet to be initiated.

While this delay in transfer to almost mid of the academic session itself and extending transfer process into the third month, is itself a cause for concern, yet detailed analysis of delay reveals a much sorrier state of affairs going beyond delay. We do this analysis in two parts; first for two rounds of first phase involving regular teachers of non-primary school teachers and then for ‘Guest teachers’ for same set of schools. Till date 37 distinct notifications (excluding parallel notifications issued for different categories of regular teachers) have been issued pertaining to transfers of regular non-primary school teachers. Surprisingly, having initiated the transfer process on 25th July, detailed procedure to be followed and norms to be adopted for transfers were issued on 13th August only. After initiation of transfer process, vacancies were changed 5 times and timeline for choice filling by teachers extended 10 times. List of employees eligible for transfers, which was to be finalized by 4th August and was presumed to have been finalized on 12th August before choice filling by teachers began on 13th August, was revised as late as 23rd August. List of vacancies and teachers eligible to seek voluntary transfer and those who have to compulsorily seek transfer is a preliminary datum for initiating the transfer process but it was modified till as late as 24th August. This is for phase one of transfers. For “Guest Teachers” this process continued till much later.

None of these steps in the transfer process was unforeseen. In para 5(ii) of transfer policy issued in 2016 and revised in 2017, all these steps have been listed. But in actual implementation so much adhocism was there that timelines were changed even twice in a day. Late night orders were issued with very short deadlines of few hours. At least eleven orders are such that their computer-generated number indicates date next to the date specified in the order. Clearly at least these eleven orders were issued well into the night. In one of these orders extending timelines, timeline is extended by just 10 hours, up to 10 am the very next day. Unsurprisingly, this was again extended by full 2 hours, up to 12 noon. Does department expect teachers to sit awake through the night waiting for orders or to not teach classes but do administrative work during class hours as the timeline was extended up to 10 am only. Anyway, thereafter, the timeline was again extended, now for two days. Two-hour extension is followed by full 2-day extension! In another case, time window began at 3am and ended at 10am!

After all these twists and turns, first transfer lists were out on 28th August. Next day followed strict orders to ensure compliance and joining at the new station before request for review would be considered. However, lo and behold, the same day, transfers of some category of teachers were stayed till further order (which came on 2nd September). It was followed by cancelling the whole process for another category of teachers and starting it afresh de novo. Eventually, after modifying the transfer orders of more than one thousand teachers, on 2nd September first set of transfer orders of the first phase were finalized. Thereafter, 4 more transfer lists have come out for just one category of teachers- PGT (Post Graduate Teachers), one being as late as 30th September.

Expectedly, transfer of “Guest Teachers” that followed the first phase of transfers was no less messy. Fifteen general notices were issued in the month of September relevant for each category of “Guest Teachers” (PGT or TGT-Trained Graduate Teachers). As per initial notification, transfers of “Guest Teachers” were to be finalised by 9th September but eventually list of vacant posts as well as teachers eligible for transfers itself was announced on 10th September. However, thereafter acting fast, perhaps trying to make up for lost time, transfer orders were issued on 11th September itself. However, the very next day these orders were modified and further modified twice the day after. In all three modifications of original transfer list of each category of “Guest Teachers”, (PGT or TGT) affected more than half of the initial list of transfers (608 out of 1052 in case of PGT and 1369 out of 2508 in case of TGT). Moreover, the transfer process is not complete as yet. After a gap of a fortnight, on 28th September “Guest Teachers” were asked to select their preferred district over next three days, i.e., by 1st October. Thereafter, till date (as of October 9, 2022) there has been no further development.

A quick glance at the accompanying table, giving details of sanctioned posts and vacancies etc of different category of government school teachers placed in Haryana Legislative Assembly on 21st December, 2021, will show that over more than two months, till date transfer process for only about 60% teachers has been undertaken and it is yet to be initiated for the other 40%. What explains this mess in transfer policy of teachers even 6 years after it was laid out and in the fourth time this policy is being implemented?

Number of Teachers and Vacancy in Government Schools in Haryana as Per Statement Placed in The State Assembly On 21st December, 2021

Source: Confirmed Proceedings of Haryana Assembly for December 21, 2021 Volume 3, number 3 pp 6 available at https://haryanaassembly.gov.in/house-proceedings-confirmed/

At least three causes can be identified for the mess in transfer of school teachers in Haryana. Revision of more than 1000 transfers in the very first transfer list, clearly indicates problems with the software and the software managing agency. However, frequent revision of the basic data indicates two other reasons too. In the original transfer policy as well in letter dated 13th August, specifying the modalities of transfer process, it is recognized that large number of sanctioned posts in schools are lying vacant. Accompanying table indicates that about 39% posts in non-primary government schools are vacant. For TGT proportion of vacant posts goes up to 44%! To deal with this situation, a conceptual decision has been taken to keep certain number of vacancies out of transfer process. This implies that some specific posts in specific schools will continue to remain vacant. It was further decided to cap the number of ‘open’ vacancies from which choice had to be made by teachers at 5% more than the number of teachers eligible for transfers. But beyond this conceptual decision, no policy or methodology has been specified as to how vacancies will be classified as open or closed; posts of which subject in which school will be opened for transfer and which ones would be kept closed (‘kept’ in the teachers’ lingo) [2] Neither the shortage of teachers has been overcome nor this crucial gap in policy to determine the posts kept in abeyance has been filled up since transfer policy was first announced in 2016. This lacuna opens the space for irregularities, corruption or political interference. To illustrate, certain vacant posts, which were ‘kept’ i.e., not opened for transfer for regular teachers were made available to “Guest Teachers” on 11th September and then again ‘kept’ (vacant) [3] the very next day. The opaque process of selecting vacant posts for ‘non-filling’, is perhaps the main reason that list of vacancies and list of eligible teachers kept changing frequently and consequently transfer schedule had to be repeatedly deferred. This also explains why on the one hand number of schools were locked up by villagers, and on the other hand, there were street protests by teachers. Latter threat was so powerful, that a special notification had to be issued on 21st August to ensure that teachers did not participate in protests in large numbers.

However, recently, in response to court cases, and there have been dozens of such cases, some details about criterion for keeping some posts ‘vacant’ have filtered out partially. In CWP no 20559 of 2022, Dinesh Kumar & others V/S State of Haryana and others, it has been admitted that against requirement of 1164 teachers of PGT Physical Education only 155 are in place, i.e., only about 13% are in place. So, only vacant posts in schools with student strength of 22 or more (including those in class 11 and 12) have been filled up. In response to another court case, CWP No 19612, it has been pointed out that for schools with less than 262 students, posts of Principal Senior Secondary School, have not been filled and have been ‘kept’ (vacant). But these are post-facto revelations; there was no a priori policy in public domain.

But this — need to keep some posts vacant because there are not enough teachers, and opaque process of doing this - may be only one factor behind this mess; fundamental cause for this mess in the transfer process is the fact that timely and comprehensive preparatory work was not undertaken at the highest level. Whole process was started without due preparation. Clearly ‘web based application’ cannot be a substitute beyond a limit for human application of mind!

Why is this mess up significant or what have been the consequences of this ill-prepared transfer drive? Formally, on paper, there would have been no disturbance in the teaching-learning process since 25th July when this transfer drive started and till 2nd September when final orders of first round of first phase of transfers were issued, and there would be no disturbance till whole transfer process is completed. But anyone with modicum of familiarity with the ground realties can easily visualize that real ground situation would have been totally different. All other academic work, particularly class room teaching would have come to standstill and in fact would continue to be disturbed till transfers are completed. [4]. There was total confusion and uncertainty; practically there were daily new notifications, notifications came even late at night, and at times these had to be complied in few hours. In one case, offices were asked to be kept open on holiday too. Many teachers would not have slept for at least some nights. Now add to it the fact that many teachers are not adequately trained to do online choice filling themselves and have to rely on others to do this, and one can very clearly see teaching would be the last thing on their minds, or that of the officers of the education department, for about two months now.

The primary rationale behind publicly funded education is the fact that education is a matter of concern for the whole society and not just for concerned parents and their wards. Hence, this disturbance of teaching for so long clearly indicates that how transfers are done, or in fact functioning of education department as such, should be a cause of concern not only for teachers or parents whose wards are affected, but for everybody. While teacher dissatisfied with their new postings will definitely protest (or plead), will it be ensured that the senior officers, Secretary and Director, and more so the Minister are held accountable for this major disturbance of teaching-learning process. While we celebrate the recent resignation of Portuguese health minister for the death of single Indian tourist due to malfunctioning of hospitals under her watch, or the resignation of Lal Bahadur Shastri after a train accident under his watch, who will ensure that top heads roll for this mess in transfers in Haryana? Unless remedial action is forced on the government, in all likelihood the story would be repeated not only next year but it may be repeated in transfers in the other departments this year too as policy similar to teachers transfer policy has been adopted for other state government departments too. There is another issue that concerns day to day functioning of not only education department but every department and organisation. In this age of social media and mobile phones, norms should be specified setting limits for contacting employees outside the office hours as well as provision of adequate time for responding to official online directions; one should not make citizens into 24X7 employees and provide 3am to 10am time window!

PS: Table given above is a bit dated. An unstarred question (to which written answers are given) number 711 on the number vacancies and appointments in schools in Haryana was replied on 4th March 2022. While question is posted on the website of the Assembly [5], answer is not. There is backlog since December 2021. One can understand a certain time lag in putting oral proceedings in public domain, but why cannot written statements placed in the Assembly be placed online simultaneously is beyond comprehension.

(Author is former Professor of Economics, MD University, Rohtak)


[1While this policy document and amendments to same are available at https://schooleducationharyana.gov.in/teachers-transfer-policy-2/ , all data related to present transfer drive used in this article is available in public domain at the following links: https://schooleducationharyana.gov.in/category/news/ and https://schooleducationharyana.gov.in/daily-orders/ Documents used pertain to the period July 25, 2002 to October 9, 2022

[2However, now in response to court cases, some information has ‘leaked’ out. We discuss this later.

[3That out of 1164 posts of PGT Physical education, only 155 were in schools where on the average 11 or more students were there in each class of +2 level, raises serious questions about creation of posts; rest of the posts were in schools where number of students studying these subjects was less than this. On the other hand, schools with number of students up to 262 were kept without head of the institutions. This clearly indicates irrational decision-making process involving irrelevant considerations.

[4Even when post of ‘Guest Teacher’ is taken up by regular teacher on transfer, “Guest Teacher” was not transferred out till the transfer drive for “Guest Teachers” was undertaken. So, there were two teachers for one post in one school and none in the other.

[5https://haryanaassembly.gov.in/lists-of-questions/ (unstarred questions for 4th March 2022).

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