Why Kashmir’s teachers are accusing state government of ‘disgracing’ the profession


Majid Jahangir, Srinagar
Major controversy has arisen involving the government and thousands of Rehbar e Taleem (ReT) teachers  in Jammu and Kashmir after the government ordered screening test for ReT teachers currently working at various state schools.
As per the order more than 60,000 teachers have to appear for screening test. The ReT teachers recruitment had started in 2000.
Anyone, who is being appointed as ReT teacher is bound to work on  pay scale of 1500 and 3,000 for the period f five years. It’s only after they complete five years, they are considered eligible for permanent job.
In May 2015, Jammu and Kashmir High Court had asked one ReT teacher to write  an essay on cow in which he failed. Taking strong cognisance, the court had then ordered scrutiny of degrees and screening test of all ReT teachers working at government schools.
Kashmir’s teachers took to streets in Srinagar on 5 August to protest against the government order. Police had to be called in to disperse the crowd using force.
Rafiq Ahmad Gujjar resident of Marhama working as ReT since 2003 strongly reacts to the government’s decision says that it is a mockery of the teachers .
Speaking to Jantakareporter.com, he said, ” I am not afraid of screening test. I am afraid the government’s senseless policy is being forced on us. I am still working on Rs 3,000 ever since I was got my appointment. I am class X pass and now I am  being asked to pass 12th class only then will I get a permanent job. I’ve just turned 45 and it’s almost my retirement age. Is it not a mockery of us teachers?”
Employment Joint Action Committee Kashmir chairman , Abdul Qayoom Wani warned the government of dire consequences if screening test proposal was not rolled back.
He told jantakareporter.com,”  The government’s decision of conducting screening test is beyond my comprehension. If anybody is having fake degrees let it be investigated. Making us all scapegoats is not acceptable. We are going to launch statewide agitation against this move.”
Former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah has also thrown his weight behind ReT’s.
While questioning education minister Nayeem Akhter’s reluctance over screening test Omar said, “Let education minister go through the test himself first and show his worth by winning elections so we can too feel if he is fit to become education minister or not.”
Kashmir’s prominent educationists have criticised the government’s proposal terming it futile.
Leading educationist Professor Abdul Gani told jantakareporter.com, ” The government lacks strategy of providing better education. I don’t think the screening test will lead our education system to chaos and confusion. Our education system now needs a long-term strategy.”
However, education minister Nayeem Akhter is adamant to conduct the screening test.
He said, “It is a wrong notion that the government wants to disgrace the teaching community. The ultimate aim is  to bring the education track on the right track. Protests and sloganeering are not going to scare me as I am merely following court order.”