Describing teachers as guardians who hold key to the bright future of our Generation Next, Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Saturday advocated granting greater financial autonomy to educational institutions and creation of a Teachers’ Welfare Fund, on pattern of the fund set up in the Police Department. He vowed to make J&K a ‘Knowledge Hub’ of South Asia and assigned teachers the onerous and challenging task of changing the destiny of our talented youth. “In the last two-and-a-half decades, we have fought battles on several fronts, but I want you to fight and win this one for making J&K an elite Knowledge Society,” he said, while congratulating the teaching community on the occasion of Teacher’s Day at a glittering function held at Kashmir University auditorium, here today. Deputy Chief Minister, Dr. Nirmal Singh and Minister for Education, Naeem Akhtar, were also present on the occasion. Expressing concern over falling standards in the quality of education, Mufti Sayeed said the political turbulence of the last more than two decades has taken a heavy toll on the education sector. “While the rich and affluent could afford to send their children out, the wards of common masses suffered because of turmoil in the state,” he lamented, while praising the swift corrective measures initiated by the Education Department to bring the system back on rails. The Chief Minister said it was not easy taking over the mantle from a previous regime which had reduced the education department to a farce and a ‘mere transfer industry’ where teachers were shuffled like a pack of cards. He said he was saddened when scams like the one that took place in BOPEE were unearthed which ruined future of many brilliant youth. “In my first tenure as Chief Minister between 2002 and 2005, I strongly resisted requests from the most ardent of my workers. I am what I am today because of my workers. But we detached all those teachers who had conveniently attached themselves to escape postings in remote and far-flung areas of the state,” he said, while indicating to the Education Department to provide security of tenure to the teachers so that they disseminate knowledge without a Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads. Asking the Education Department to trust its teachers to deliver at the College and School-levels, the Chief Minister favoured delegation of greater financial powers to avoid unnecessary delay in creating and upgrading educational facilities. “Education and Health are the two pillars of a sound society. Our college and school principals should not be seen as powerless administrators who cannot even take minor financial decisions at their own level,” he stated. Asking teachers to pick up the gauntlet and become guide and mentor to students, the Chief Minister became nostalgic while remembering the role teachers played in shaping his personality. “I studied in Oriental College, Rajouri Kadal, Madiniyat-ul-uloom, Hazrtabal, and SP College, Srinagar, before pursuing higher education at Aligharh Muslim University, where great teachers like Maulana Mohammad Yusuf Waterhaili, Maulana Abdul Kabir, Prof. Omkar Nath and Prof. Hajini opened my mind to the vast treasure of knowledge and virtues of leading a meaningful life,” he added, while paying rich tributes to all of those who had been teachers and guides to aspiring students all over the world. Promising to make merit the only yardstick to test the ability of students and teachers, Mufti Sayeed said both J&K PSC and SSB have been made fully functional which will make appointments in a fair, transparent and time-bound manner. He said the state’s new recruitment policy would also fast-track filling up of all vacant posts so that the issue of understaffing, particularly, in remote areas of the state is quickly addressed. Asking teachers to eye intelligence and skill early in a student’s career, the Chief Minister said the policy of consolidation and rationalization started by the Education Department will bear fruit shortly. “I went to a school in Dayalgam in Anantnag, where 20 teachers were teaching 50 students! We have streamlined the system to a large extent and achieved better results,” he said, while asking the department to vigorously pursue laying a sound network of model schools, with focus on teaching science and maths subjects to develop the mental faculties of our children. Calling upon teachers and parents to play their role in meeting global benchmarks in education sector, Mufti Sayeed highlighted the need to make education vibrant and research-oriented. “The teachers have to create a craving amongst students so that they think big. We have to first focus on primary education for developing a scientific temper amongst young minds,” he said and referred to the recognition that our doctors, technocrats, professors and businessmen have got in the West and Middle East by sheer dint of their hard work. However, he noted with alarm the shrinking of space of our craftsmen and asked the Education Department to start advance courses in handicraft and cuisine so that we are able to give our skilled youth a level-playing field, heralding them into the huge arena of entrepreneurship. “We have to dovetail handicraft with education sector so that we teach new skills in art and craft to our younger generation,” the Chief Minister said. Deputy Chief Minister, in his address, paid rich tributes to Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, the former President of India, on whose birthday the Teacher’s Day is celebrated across the country. He praised the efforts of the Education Minister in building a sound edifice for raising a talented human resource and bringing excellence in the field of education. Describing education as a unifying agenda that has brought the three regions of the state together, Naeem Akhtar said he will continue to strive in making J&K a repository of knowledge. He assured the Chief Minister that he will take all possible steps to overcome the challenges confronting the education sector. “I still remember what the Chief Minister said during the Special Convocation held in this very hall to felicitate Bharat Ratna and internationally-acclaimed scientific researcher, Prof. C. N. R. Rao – If we succeed in education, we will succeed on all fronts. This has since become my goal and vision statement,” he added. Minister for Youth Services & Sports, Imran Raza Ansari, Advisor to the Chief Minister, Prof. Amitabh Mattoo, and Vice Chancellor of University of Kashmir, Prof. Khurshid Iqbal Andrabi also addressed a huge gathering of noted academicians, scholars, professors, teachers and students. Also present were Minister of State for H&UDD and I&C, Mohammad Ashraf Mir, Minister of State for PHE, Forest, Ecology & Environment, Abdul Majeed Padder, Minister of State for Health & Social Welfare, Asiya Naqash, MLA Batmalloo, Noor Mohammad, Commissioner / Secretaries of School and Higher Education Departments, Director School & Higher Education, besides several other senior officers of the Education Department.
2015 Kashmir Despatch