The T-Haazaru app requires headmasters and principals in all government schools to upload attendance data every day before 10.30 am.

Telangana teachers express concerns over govts new app to stop staff absenteeismImage for representation
news Education Wednesday, September 04, 2019 - 15:30

Six Telangana State Model School teachers were sacked for long periods of absenteeism on August 31, just a day before the Haazaru Mahotsavam officially kick-started in Telangana government schools. The month of Haazaru (Hajaru, with translates to ‘attendance’ in English), is an effort by the Telangana government to put in place a proper attendance monitoring system to ensure that teachers do not remain absent from schools for a long period of time.

For the very same reason, the Telangana Education Department launched the T-Haazaru app last month, on which headmasters and principals have been mandated to upload the attendance of teachers and students by 10:30 am every day. The move, as the government puts it, is supposedly to act as a deterrent for teachers who are habituated to skip school on a regular basis, sometimes even for a year on unauthorised leaves.

It also helps the government to collate data and have at hand a complete record of the number of teachers and students in different mandals and districts around the state.

The T-Haazaru app, which is available on the Google Play store, is to be accessed by the headmasters and principals, who are expected to manually enter the attendance of different classes and teachers present in the school for the day.

What the teaching community says

The teaching community in the state, however, is not convinced about the effective implementation of this attendance monitoring system.

Firstly, while most of them agree on the fact that a long period of absenteeism affects quality of education and should not be tolerated, they have concerns about the manner of implementation. They point out that the app requires human intervention to record attendance data.

Secondly, what makes the app different from the manual form of registering attendance with pen and paper?

Speaking to TNM, Shobha Rani, Principal of Telangana State Model School, Bollaram, says that the six teachers who were sacked for long period of absenteeism were served notices in advance and that their dismissal was not related to the Haazaru Mahotsavam.

“This is how the model schools have functioned and will be functioning in the future as well. We have always dealt with cases of absenteeism very seriously and be it an app or a register, we are bound to take action against teachers who aren’t diligent in their jobs. In my opinion, the app wouldn’t bring much difference in the way we teachers perform at schools, apart from the fact that now government can have real-time data on attendance of teachers and students,” the principal says.

Shobha Rani also adds that the Telangana State Model Schools already have a website where class-wise attendance and attendance of teachers are available (with public access) on a daily basis.  

An additional burden?

Echoing similar ideas, Ravinder Mutyala, President of the Telangana Teachers’ Association, says that considering the already inadequate number of working staff in government schools, the app may not be too effective as it takes a considerable amount of time to upload the data.

“This is a job that should be done by clerks in schools. But in most schools in Telangana, clerical posts are vacant. It is an additional burden on the principals who are now required to send two reports, one to the DEO (District Education Officer) and the other to the Commissioner's Office along with uploading details on the app,” he adds.

Secondly, the app requires human intervention in entering data. As long as the work is done manually, there are equal chances of fudging data. “This could also lead to principals and headmasters commanding a higher authority of power unless there are proper checks by government officials to ensure that the data entered is not tampered with in any manner,” Ravinder says.

Teachers say surprise checks are necessary in schools on a regular basis so that the credibility of data is maintained. A model school teacher, who chose to be anonymous, further adds that the Haazaru app data is also supposed to provide details on the mid-day meal scheme (with the help of data of students present) so that food is not wasted or procured in excess.

“But since all of this requires human intervention, how can the government officials ensure that the data on the app is authentic unless there is a mechanism for verification?” the teacher asks.

Ravinder says that while responsibilities are increasing for teachers, the government should also understand how under-staffed the government schools are. He adds, “We have long-standing demands such as recruitment, service rules and health cards. There are almost 25,000 vacant teachers’ posts in Telangana. For any effective implementation of schemes, it is important that they do not turn a burden for teachers.”

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