Post Mortem

Communitization policy in Nagaland government schools

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 2/15/2020 1:11:50 PM IST

 Education is one of the basic essences for human development. Free and compulsory education to all children upto 14 years of age is a constitutional commitment. The objective of all educationists and education planners is to achieve this target. However, to achieve this objective, the role of service providers and delivery mechanism at the grassroots level is critical. Through the communitisation of the education sector, Nagaland has made quest for improving the delivery mechanism in the education sector. Partnership between Government and the community involving transfer of ownership of school facilities, control over service delivery, empowerment, decentralization, and delegation of responsibilities has led to the increase in enrollment at school, reduction in school drop-outs, better attendance of teachers and improved school facilities.  Communitization of education has given an opportunity to the community in the management, in investment and in owning the delivery of education. It calls for a high level of commitment, initiation and voluntarism.

The Nagaland Communitization of Public Institutions and Services Act, 2002 was implemented in the school sector with the Department of Education notifying the “Nagaland Communitization of Elementary Institutions and Services Rules 2002. Through these rules necessary legal and institutional provisions were made to bring all government managed primary and upper primary schools under the communitization process. Accordingly, a pilot project on communitization of elementary education was officially launched on 15th July 2002 by the then Chief Secretary of Nagaland, Shri. R.S. Pandey. In fact, Shi R. S. Pandey conceived the idea of communitization of elementary education and played a key role in developing and implementing the project in the initial years

Six years after “Communitisation” was introduced in 2002 in Nagaland, the state won the coveted United Nations Award for Public Service from Asia and the Pacific region for “fostering participation in policy making through innovative mechanism” in June 23,2008 in New York”.

When the Communitisation Act came into being, the State’s education system was completely centralized. The State Government oversaw all responsibilities for running the system, placing a disproportionate amount of burden on its overworked State-level machinery. Responsibility and accountability at the lower levels were virtually nil. Not surprisingly, the education administration was also a breeding ground for leakage, corruption and inertia. The need for reforms could not have been clearer. The transfer to a system of shared ownership with the community was a complete change; more so because it occurred at the most basic, village level through the VEC mechanism.

Under the communitization framework, a VEC constituted by the Village Council takes responsibility of the management and supervision of school(s) within its jurisdiction, including the implementation of a “No Work, No Pay” policy for errant teachers. The purpose and functions of the VEC range widely at the administrative, academic and financial levels. More specifically, in a human development context, ensuring universal enrolment and retention in schools of children up to age 14 or Class VIII is one of its key functions.

As per the Communitization of Education, “The Nagaland Experience-thematic report” 2009 research report prepared by the planning and coordination department in 2009, there was a steady increase in enrolment rates in the schools , decrease in dropout rates, there was a positives improvement in teachers’ attendance and corresponding improvement in attendance of students, timely disbursal of employee salaries, weeding out proxy employees and, in some cases, there was qualitative changes in school curriculum with active inputs from the community participation across the state. 

There are lots of positives changes in the education system after the introduction of communitization. However, today there are lots of primary sources with regards to negatives impact on communitization, in many Government schools VEC/SMC is using excessive authority towards Government teachers and department official. Some sources said that communalization is the key and main door of proxy teachers in government schools.

Some sources said  many  newly upgraded school have zero enrollment and when honest and sincere teachers report to higher authority, they were asked to bring NOC from VEC/SMC, but VEC suggested them to keep proxy when there is no enrollment. So for what purpose teachers have to go to school when department keep teachers  in the zero enrollment.

Some teachers replied that they have more than 17 staff in their school but less than 10 students but VEC/SMC forcing staff to report to the department as 55 students. One teacher said that he/she receives the salary only after 6 months and that the posting place is in different district. “It is very difficult to survive since we don’t get regular salary, thus we keep substitute from local people”, he/she said.

Some sources said the teachers received their regular salary but were appointed in 1999 and the new syllabus was new to them and that they don’t understand them, except their mother tongue so they keep a proxy to teach. There are many other stories from different sources.

Many times in different occasions, teachers are being pointed out by department official and different NGOS regarding the proxy, but many people fail to see the reason from the grassroots level. Government teachers are not slaves. Teachers are the builder of the nation. Due to the mistakes of a few people, we should not finger point the honest and dedicated teachers.

As reported from the sources, in many newly upgraded GHS/GMS school there is zero enrollment, but delivery authority don’t do action even though they know that school is zero enrollment. Moreover, many VEC/SMC are forcing teachers to keep proxy paying some amount and sending fake enrollment to the department, which is a great loss to the department and the deserving students. This is the reality of many schools in Nagaland at present.

It is learnt that when some honest teachers report to the condition of school, higher authority ignore them saying that the communitization policy come from VEC level. Many a time, honest and dedicated teachers are in the middle, and they have nowhere to go. They are being victimized and compelled to keep proxy. One side the department continues to keep many qualified teachers in less/zero enrollment school and on the other side, student bodies/VEC/Different society keep blaming teachers. Sometimes teachers want to teach but there are no students, and this is the real teacher condition in many schools in Nagaland. Besides this, the salaries are pending for more than 4-8 months side by side to some categories of teachers in the state. 

Today, there are lots of schools where enrollment is more but there is a lack of teachers. So, instead of sleeping and blaming in different function against teachers community, why don’t authority take the right action. It is high time, the mechanism authority to look into the matter seriously instead of speaking against proxy in the different occasion, blaming general teacher community. Dear respected people please stop blaming our honest teachers. Why don’t you transfer the teachers to right place if there is no enrollment?  Why don’t authority invite teachers to report officially or authority engage honest field work and do necessary action instead of blaming against general teachers community. Today, many honest, dedicated and sincere teachers are victimized and neglected by the term communitization policy in Nagaland. 

Few decades  ago, there was a thousand honest teachers in Nagaland  because of their handwork at present Nagaland has got many educated people, because of their prayer many Nagas became Government officers. But today because of what poison we are insulting and targeting government teachers? Being a Government teacher is not a joke. They have been appointed in the most rural places across Nagaland, where there are not adequate facilities except few lucky people who posted in the towns and home places but sometimes, I really think because of someone’s mistake, all the teachers’ community are being insulted by many from individuals to society level, from officers to farmers. Why don’t Naga society wake up and encourage dedicated teachers and place them with high respect and give them benefiting awards? Has anyone/any authority/NGOs fasted for Naga teachers for their health? 

I wonder why we Nagas/NGOs only check proxy teachers and talk about their salary halt up and deduction of salary. Did such students union, organizations and department official ever organize agendas or awareness to give award to the teachers for their hard work, regularity in the school, dedication in the school? Did anyone ever voice out about paying them regular salary when their salary is pending for more than 4-8 months. 

(To be concluded)

Thsazila, Teacher (Education) St. Paul Higher Secondary School, Dimapur

(zizirudy@gmail.com)

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