Ban Ends Govt Teachers’ Dominance In Kashmir’s Thriving Tuition Market

Around 50 per cent government teachers are ruling the roost in some 550 private tuition centers packed with 60,000 students across the valley at the moment.

THE bar put on private practice of government teachers has triggered a new debate in Kashmir with jobless youth calling it a “much-needed window of opportunity”, even as the official teachers dismissed the move as “a dangerous trend”.

The directive came on Friday, when Alok Kumar, Principal Secretary to the Government, School Education Department, said that no government teaching faculty shall undertake any activity or assignment including teaching in a private educational institution or coaching center, “unless he or she obtains prior permission from the competent authority”.

Around 550 private tuition centers teach 60,000 students in the valley at present. Out of these coaching centers, 245 are registered.

“Over 50 percent faculty in these coaching centers are government teachers,” a member of the Coaching Centres Association Kashmir told Kashmir Observer. “Some of them are calling shots and setting agendas in the private education of the valley.”

Kashmir’s private tuition or coaching centre is a thriving enterprise and a competing war-turf between big education brands. These brands have multiplied over the years and have roped in some big names in Kashmir’s teaching circles for wooing students. Many of these coaching center educators are holding a government teacher’s post.

The administration has now invoked Rule 10 to prohibit government employees from private practice.

‘A Welcome Move’

Many educated-unemployed youth of Kashmir hailed the order as the need of the hour.

“It’s a welcome move,” said Amir Javeed, an unemployed youth from Bandipora.

“Most of us weren’t able to reach many opportunities because of these people [government teachers]. They occupied everything and barred us from coming forward in this field. I’m pretty sure that this decision will prove to be a new gig for many unemployed youths.”

As per the order, the government is providing toll-free numbers to register complaints against the banned teaching activity. “Any violation in this regard shall invite disciplinary action against the delinquent officer(s)/official(s), as warranted under rules,” it noted.

Meanwhile, as the debate raged on, many called the private practice by government teachers as unethical. “It’s equally inhumane because these people draw fat salaries from the government and then teach absolutely nothing in the schools,” said Seher Mushtaq, a government teacher.

“Many of these teachers would lure gullible students of government institutes to join their private tuition. Such teachers increasingly operate on the theory that private tuition centers are more efficient and more effective than government schools. It does not bode well for either the cost of education or a student’s mind. Government’s decision to ban such practice was the need of the hour.”

In fact, many argued that it’s pretty absurd that these teachers force poor students of government schools to join private tuition centers for their own benefits.

“Not just that,” said Nasir Ali, another jobless youth, “the previous elected government’s initiative of Super 50 Coaching was also ruined because of these teachers”.

‘A Dangerous Trend’

However, the order has also left many government teachers upset. The irked lot is dismissing the directive as ‘a dangerous trend’.

“How is it anyone’s business if I’m holding private classes after my office hours?” asked Lateef Khan, a government teacher running tuition centre in Srinagar.

“As long as I’m performing my duty ethically, it shouldn’t be a problem. As an educator, I’m only helping the society grow.”

Private tuition is a universal practice, argues Seher Misgar, another government teacher into private practice. “Most of us engage in it to help students in clearing concepts for various competitive exams,” Seher said.

“If normal classwork is meant to cover syllabus, then these private lessons are there to boost one’s aptitude level for qualifying some big exams. I don’t think it’s unethical on part of government teachers to be the part of this competitive teaching. It doesn’t make us offenders.”

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Zaid Bin Shabir

Zaid Bin Shabir is a special correspondent at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @Zaidbinshabir

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