Teacher recruitment scam hits Chandigarh again

Chandigarh, Feb 24 (IANS) Irregularities in teacher recruitment for government schools have rocked Chandigarh for the second time in five months. The latest controversy is about last-minute changes in criteria for selecting over 500 teachers.

Sources in the administration say education department officials, particularly the office of the Director of Public Instruction (DPI, Schools), had ‘goofed up’ in the selection procedure.

It has surfaced that candidates who performed dismally in written tests were put on the selected list by the administration, leading to objections from those who had not been chosen.

Changes in selection criteria apparently helped a candidate with just 1.13 marks in the objective test to make it to the interview. Two others with zero marks in the interview were selected.

One of the candidates getting zero marks in the interview was actually absent but was put on the ‘selected’ list!

DPI (Schools) Sunil Bhatia, however, claimed there was no controversy in the selection process and changes in the selection criteria were transparent.

He attributed everything to ‘human error’ on the part of the government agency, Department of Electronics Accreditation for Computer Courses (DOEACC) to which the recruitment process was outsourced.

‘The entire process has been transparent and objective…but some vested interests are trying to vitiate the entire process. If any person has any information regarding extraneous considerations playing any role in the selection process, he can contact us with an affidavit and reasonable proof,’ Bhatia said.

The education department terminated the services of 10 teachers after it was found they had been wrongly selected in the other backward classes (OBC) category. The department brushed aside their recruitment as ‘human error’ again. Some of the terminated teachers drew salary for three months after joining.

Bhatia, putting the blame on the DOEACC, said: ‘We decided to take a re-look at the compiled results and found the errors. There is no mala fide, but compilation errors on the part of the DOEACC. We have written about this to the DOEACC authorities. It is nothing but human error.’

The selection of teachers for Chandigarh’s government schools, some of which are most sought after by students for Classes 10 and 12 and have a high cut-off percentage of 85-90 percent, had run into trouble in September last year as well after it became clear that the administration changed the criteria in a clandestine manner.

The scam surfaced putting former DPI (Schools) Samwartak Singh under the scanner. A criminal case was registered and two ‘touts’, Hardev Singh and Jolly, were arrested. The touts had made and received hundreds of calls from the mobile and office numbers of the DPI (Schools).

However, Singh, a Haryana cadre civil service officer, was let off in the inquiry with just a transfer to another post in Chandigarh. Instead of taking action against him, the administration chose not to even repatriate him to Haryana.

Chandigarh, a 114 sq km city – the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana – has 105 government schools. The education department claims that school education is available to all students in the city within one kilometre of their homes.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at jaideep.s@ians.in)

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