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Govt escape hatch for teachers far from home

Calcutta, Feb. 23: There is good news for secondary school teachers posted far from home.

With an eye on the panchayat elections, the government is considering a transfer policy for teachers. According to plan, teachers working in any of the nearly 7,500 state-aided secondary schools for three years at a stretch will get an opportunity to seek transfer to institutions at a place of their choice.

Never in the past were school teachers allowed an opportunity to seek transfers.

Officials said teachers seeking such near-to-home transfers will have to appear for an oral test. The posting of their choice will be granted only after they clear the test.

“We have sent a detailed report to the school education department. We will implement the decision as soon as we get a final clearance,” said Arun Kiran Chakraborty, chairman of the School Service Commission.

The commission is in charge of conducting the tests to recruit teachers for the state-aided secondary schools. It will also be responsible for holding the interviews for transfers.

The possibility of a policy decision on the issue triggered mixed reactions among teachers. While a CPM-affiliated teachers’ lobby welcomed the move, the Congress-controlled forum resented it.

The general secretary of the West Bengal Headmasters’ Association, Ashoke Maity, said the move would prompt teachers to seek transfers off and on, which will affect standards of teaching in the institutions. “This is a calculated attempt to rope in teachers for the panchayat elections,” he added.

Chakraborty said the scheme primarily aims at minimising long-standing vacancies in secondary schools.

A large number of teaching posts in state-funded secondary schools — particularly those in the districts — are lying vacant because a sizeable number of teachers recruited through the commission did not join. The absence of a transfer provision was cited as the prime reason for the new recruits not joining work.

An official said on an average, 10,000 teaching posts fall vacant every year due to retirement and other factors. The commission conducts an examination to fill up these vacancies and panels of teachers are drawn up.

However, officials said, a bulk of the posts remain vacant as many selected candidates do not take up the posts because of their location.

After the new policy is implemented, the number of refusals will go down as working for three years would entitle the teachers to seek a transfer, said Chakraborty. “Refusals by selected candidates need to be curbed because thy lead to a shortage of teachers. Moreover, this leads to a major loss of government funds. A large sum is spent to conduct the commission’s recruitment tests,” he added.

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