Deploy teachers only in main poll process: HRD ministry

The government teachers are deployed to serve as booth-level officers (BLOs). PTI file photo

With the government school teachers spending a major share of their time in election-related duties, the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry has stepped in to ensure that their poll-related responsibilities are significantly cut down so that their core work of teaching remains unaffected.

The ministry has asked district collectors across the country to consider deploying the government school teachers only in the main polling process, not in the collection of data on voters or for updating the electoral rolls.

The government teachers are deployed to serve as booth-level officers (BLOs). They collect actual field information with regard to the electoral rolls of the respective polling area assigned to them, conduct physical verification of the voters and update the electoral roll. They are deployed in the main polling process.

“Participation of teachers in the main election process is not an issue. Nobody is against it. The problem is that they have to spend three-four months while serving as the BLOs,” an HRD ministry official said.

All such deployments are done at the level of the district collectors.

“So, we are asking them (district collectors) to consider deploying government employees as BLOs from other departments. This can be done. Delhi government has shown the way by deploying people from other government departments to perform the task of the BLOs,” the official added.

Deployment of government school teachers in election duties and other non-teaching work in states have been a major concern as their involvement in performing dual-task hampers teaching in the schools.

Last year, the National Commission for Protection for Child Rights in a report had highlighted how the involvement of teachers in non-teaching activities was affecting the quality of education in government schools.

In its report titled Involvement of Teachers in Non-teaching Activities and its Effect on Education, the right body had noted that teachers, who were covered under the study, had spent 81% of their time while serving as the BLO in an election year.

“Since a considerable academic time was lost during the elections, the provision of minimum 220 academic days as per the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009 remained unfulfilled,” the right body had noted in its report.

The HRD ministry is collecting information from all the districts on the deployment of teachers as the BLOs.

“We are asking 20 different questions with regard to school education at district level which includes how many government school teachers were deployed as the BLOs,” a ministry official said.

Based on the information being collected, the ministry will decide the next course of action to reduce poll-related responsibilities of the teachers.

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