JAIPUR: In Rajasthan, the state education department and government teachers are entangled over De-worm, the world initiative' program based upon collecting stool samples of school students to assess the impact of DE-worming initiatives.
Teacher associations are protesting over a circular issued by department directing government teachers to support in the survey led by the NGO 'Evidence action'. However, the teachers are protesting saying that they will not help in the collection of stool samples from homes of kids as this work is of health department officials and not teachers.
State education minister Govind Singh Dotasra in his response on Monday said that the order has been misinterpreted by the teachers' association.
The Rajasthan Council of School Education (RCSE) issued an order on July 11 to all district education officers (DEOs) and district project coordinators of the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan regarding a survey of school children led by De-worm the World Initiative.
The survey is based to study worms found in children's stool. The government order is directed to 25 districts of the state in which stool samples of 50 children from each government school are to be collected. As per the order, the teachers were told to provide the necessary help to the NGO team.
But state teachers' association (Siyaram) is protesting the move, according to it the de-worm initiative for kids is great, but involving teachers in the survey process is not correct. "Teachers are meant to teach and not to collect stool samples of students from their homes along with NGO. It is below their dignity. The work is of health department employees and not teachers," the association said and demanded the chief minister to cancel the orders and take action against the officials responsible for it.
Rajasthan Teachers Association member Jogeshwar Sharma said that the government's order lacked clarity and it did not mention the specific details of the support that should be provided by teachers under the initiative. "Providing help does not mean that teachers will accompany the NGO team to children's homes and collect stool samples. This will impact our school's schedule and also it is below our dignity. We can help the NGO and health workers with the awareness of the initiative among children and also by providing children's addresses but any type of fieldwork in the survey will not be carried out by the teachers," said Jogeshwar Sharma.
But after the issue flared up state education minister clarified his stand. As per Dotasra's tweet on Monday, "No employee of the education department will have to carry out the survey process. The government's medical department and the NGO team 'Evidence Action' will do the survey work at its own level. Government teachers are required to explain to parents of the children about the campaign so that there is no hindrance in the process."
As the controversy intensified, the opposition too jumped in support of the teachers. Former education minister and Ajmer MLA Vasudev Devnani in a response to the issue on Monday said that it is an insult to teachers on the occasion of Guru Poornima. "Teachers are given the highest place in society and the government has attacked their dignity by directing them to collect stool samples from kids. The government's order is highly condemnable," said Devnani.
The teachers association in their protest letter has also demanded the government to mention the specific details related to the help which should be provided by teachers. Teachers say the protest against the order will continue until another circular in regards to this row is issued.
De-worm the world Initiative is a program led by non-profit group Evidence Action that works to support governments in developing school-based de-worming programmes in Kenya, India, Ethiopia, and Vietnam.