Monday, 2 October, 2023

DSHE’s Initiative to Stop Teachers’ Unapproved Leave

Masum Billah

The tendency of enjoying leave without prior permission or due approval has increased among teachers, particularly in rural and hard-to-reach areas educational institutions hampering the implementation of new curricula and creating further learning loss for the students. In response to this situation, Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE) have started conducting sudden visits to the educational institutions with the objective of stopping the malpractice of some teachers. When teachers remain absent from schools, it exerts a negative impression on the students and the entire education atmosphere. It discourages students’ studies. Students of rural areas usually remain weak in language, mathematics and science subjects. They need special support from the teachers and schools. But unfortunately, the teachers of rural institutions show little interest in redressing students’ weaknesses instead. They rather remain absent from school without any valid reason and without submitting any valid application. It is tantamount to committing unethical work. Under these circumstances, the initiative of DHSE to bring back regulations and a sound atmosphere in our educational institutions deserves appreciation.

When teachers’ going on leave without having any permission from the authorities concerned came to the notice of DSHE, they started ‘sudden and unexpected visits’ to the educational institutions. The report says that after the coronovirus pandemic, this tendency has increased further. And this picture prevails more in rural and hard-to-reach areas than urban ones. Usually, the guardians and school authorities show more concern about the progress of the students and education authorities can easily get closer to the schools and colleges both physically and through devices in urban areas, which is not possible in rural and hard-to-reach areas. Some rural teachers capitalise on this situation showing utter disregard towards the system and thus developing a culture of non-accountability. Rural schools usually suffer from the lack of qualified teachers to teach harder subjects. On top of that, the existing teachers’ non-accountability aggravates the situation. The continuity of the teaching-learning process gets hampered due to it. DSHE looks after more than twenty thousand secondary-level educational institutions. Last January DSHE sent its local education officials to the areas of Chandpur, Khulna, Dinajpur, Rajshahi and Sylhet who found 15 teachers absent in 10 schools. In February, they visited 55 schools across the country and found 95 teachers and staff absent without any legal leave application. Two of them are staying abroad without producing any valid documents before the authorities which sounds quite strange and proves the irresponsibility of teachers.

DSHE report says that most rural teachers show serious reluctance to come to school on time and follow the rules and regulations. Many teachers go to and come from school in their own sweet time/way. One DSHE official mentions that he saw only five teachers out of 22 present in a school when he visited the school at 10am. He also found that some teachers were on leave without any approval. Here the chain of commands at the field level seems to be weak. DSHE has decided to take stern action against the teachers who remain or remained absent without the proper approval of the school authorities. Already they have been called to DSHE to explain the reason for their absence. Similarly, the head teachers of the schools whose teachers have gone abroad without any valid leave are asked to come to DSHE to explain the reason.

DSHE basically introduced sudden school visits in 2019 that brought some good results. Unapproved leave was still then prevailing which came down to almost zero. After the pandemic, the same tendency has resumed among teachers. But teachers should not neglect their duties. Just to make them careful, DSHE has started this practice again. Teachers’ remaining absent from class and school without any approval is not only an act of breaking law but also an unethical practice, as commented by some educationists. Teachers’ job is obviously different from any other job. Maybe, it cannot be compared to the facilities other jobs offer, still it is the fact that teachers’ job is far different from an ethical point of view. When lacking is discovered here, they will lose their acceptability as teachers in society. And the teachers who have gone abroad without obtaining any permission from the authorities can be sued as per the law of the department. The lowest punishment is ‘leave without pay’ and the hardest punishment is ‘firing them from the job’. Already their head teachers have been called to DSHE which will incur financial loss and it is one kind of harassment for the head teachers. Despite this fact, they have been called at DSHE. How teachers can go abroad without obtaining any legal permission from head teachers and school committees sounds strange! It must not be entertained. It speaks volumes about the poor command of the head teachers. It also tells the insincerity of the head teachers. 

Teachers who have been employed beyond their honest desire to be teachers cannot concentrate their attention on teaching. They dare to remain absent from the workplace. When teachers come to this profession as ‘by chance’ not ‘by choice’, they show this kind of insincerity and dishonesty. When this social institution gets corrupt, all other institutions are bound to be corrupt. It is true that the teaching profession still does not prove lucrative compared to the professions existing around us. Many teachers have come to this profession without any commitment, just to manage a job for earning bread. We have miserably failed to establish the fact that this is really different from other usual jobs. So, we cannot afford to show the same behaviours other professionals show in their professions. People who are essential for this noble profession rarely join the profession. That is our collective failure. The strategic and administrative move is a must to attract meritorious people to this profession. Policymakers must look into the matter with utmost sincerity and a liberal and neutral attitude for the greater interest of the nation. Side by side, honest and true professional monitoring and evaluation must be further strengthened. Field officers of DSHE must prove their honesty and sincerity in the gamut of education. Employing teachers on political grounds must be stopped at any cost. Even bribe still plays a big role in many cases to employ teachers. Politics play here a big role in the authorities’ failure to introduce a culture of accountability. Nobody is singly responsible for that. Our collective failure has brought the teaching-learning situation to the verge of ruin. But it must be saved and DSHE has started doing this task. We salute DSHE and its noble efforts.


The writer is the President of English

Teachers’ Association of Bangladesh (ETAB).

Email: [email protected]