Repatriation of ReTs-a boon or bane

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Sheikh Altaf Hussain & Altaf Hussain Janjua

G K Chesterton had said, “Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.” The Government of Jammu and Kashmir way back in the year 2000 launched the Rehbar-e-Taleem Scheme with great pump and show to meet the deficiency of staff and promoting education at grass root level.
As per said scheme, ‘teaching guides’ commonly known as Rehbar-e-Taleem which means ‘Guides of Education’ have been engaged in Primary and Middle Schools on monthly honorarium. It is provided in the said scheme that after the completion of five years satisfactory service a Rehbar-e-Taleem shall be eligible for appointment as General Line Teacher in the Department of Education if he/she fulfills the age and qualification criteria.
It is nowhere provided in the scheme that a General Line Teacher so appointed shall be treated differently or the Government shall frame a separate policy for them.
It is true that amongst a lot of controversies the Rehbar-e-Taleems form the bedrock of education in Jammu and Kashmir as no direct recruitment of teachers has taken place since.
With the passage of time the practical difficulties being faced by these RReTs surfaced. While some got shifted from their original place of postings either on marriage grounds, hundreds couldn’t not attend their duties owing to ill-health.
This paved the way for the government to make some arrangements till the transfer policy is finalized. Accordingly, a lot of RReTs were adjusted out of their villages in different schools.
Equally true is the fact that some blue eyed people who are close to the corridors of power also managed their transfers from hilly areas to the plains.
It is quite surprising that even after 22 years of launching the scheme, the government has not come up with any concrete transfer policy regarding the RReTs. The non-formation of the policy with promptitude increased the chaos and frustration of the teaching guides thereby hampering the studies of our wards and deprecating the lofty object of the scheme. It is trite that ‘a teacher who is not at peace cannot build a good nation’. The division bench of the High Court of J&K in a celebrated judgment titled ‘Majid Alyas & Ors. V/s State of J&K & Ors.’ has held that the services of RReTs cannot be treated differently and the same are governed under J&K Education Sub-ordinate Service Rules and J&K Civil Service (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules 1956.
The court treated the General Line Teachers appointed under Rehbar-e-Taleem Scheme at par with permanent government teachers of the department. This means the services of Teachers Grade-II, III, RReTs are governed under Rule 27 of the J&K Civil Service (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules 1956. The said Rule deals with transfer and postings of the government employees.
Under clause I of the said Rule an employee is required to serve in any part of Jammu and Kashmir State (now Union Territory) on the post borne on the cadre.
In short, the court has held that the RRETs are transferable from one school to another. Surprisingly, a fresh order bearing No.Edu.-RET/1/2022-01 dated 25-07-2022 calling for the repatriation of these teachers has left everyone agog, especially the female teachers. We believe that the n-mass repatriation of teachers to their initial place of postings is against the public interest. Neither any employee has a birth right to continue in one school nor he can be deprived of transfer on legitimate grounds.
Transfer is an exigency of service. It brings transparency and efficiency in the system. We have seen cases where a school teacher could not write an essay on cow in English or Urdu in a courtroom when asked by a judge. Infact, he returned blank pages to the judge compelling the court to blacklist him and direct the government to check the degrees of all teachers appointed under Rehbar-e-Taleem Scheme. The purpose of transfer is to bring a change and make the education system robust.
This could certainly repel the negativity and monopoly being played by some blacksheep in the department. Hope some wisdom would prevail upon those who are at the helm of affairs and our children would not suffer because of their autocracy!
(The authors are advocates in J&K High Court).