In a unique directive, the Nitish Kumar government has asked school teachers in Bihar to keep an eye on open defecation and also click photos of those found relieving themselves in open. It has been learnt that teachers have protested the notice issued by all Block Education Officers (BDOs), the teachers have been allotted one of the two shifts to discharge this duty – 5:00 am. and 4:00 pm. According to the order, the school principals, on the other hand, were entrusted with supervising the task. However, this is not the first time that teachers in the state have been asked to do a job outside their profession. In the past, teachers have been posted on census duty, election duty, and have had to compile voters’ list. Bihar Education Minister has said that the government just want teachers to exercise their influence in society and bring awareness. The minister, however, said, “Clicking selfies with defaulters is different matter, personally I didn’t like it.” This is part of the state’s Open Defecation Free (ODF) campaign.
According to reports, the Aurangabad district administration has decided to declare Pawai panchayat of Deo block ODF by December 31, 2017. To make sure the district administration got 61 primary and middle-school teachers enrolled in the campaign since November 18. The Kudni block administration in Muzaffarpur has engaged 144 teachers. Teachers’ associations, however, have said that while they support the ODF campaign, they find it “difficult” to comply with the instructions because it “insults teachers,” undermines “dignity” and could “endanger safety.”
However, the teachers were unwilling to perform the task. Bihar Madhyamik Sikshak Sangh (BMSS) general secretary and former MP Shatrughan Prasad Singh wrote to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today demanding withdrawal of the orders which ask them to visit villages in the morning and evening. In his November 18 order, Kudni BDO Harimohan Kumar said: “Teachers concerned are hereby ordered that they will create awareness about ODF among villagers and guardians in their panchayat. Alongside, they will post photographs (of open defecation). Morning follow-up is scheduled between 6 am and 7 am and evening follow-up between 5 pm and 6 pm.”
“Teachers are already overworked. They are used in a number of non-teaching works like census, preparation of voters’ list etc. This new order on open defecation is not only an addition, it is also an insult to their dignity,” general secretary of Bihar Secondary Teachers’ Association Shatrughan Prasad Singh said.
Achieving open defecation free (ODF) status has become a priority in Bihar in view of the Swachch Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Seven Resolves of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, both of which aim at providing every household with sanitation facility.