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Put on poll duty, teachers allege RTE Act violation 

Gurdaspur: Teachers unions in the district are claiming that the administration is flouting the Right to Education (RTE) Act by deploying them on election duty. Gurdaspur is the home district of Education Minister Aruna Chaudhury.Nearly 2,000 teachers drawn from more than 1,100 primary schools have been appointed booth-level officers to prepare electoral rolls. Earlier, they had to perform this duty till November 30, but it has been extended till December 15. Teachers refusing to join have been allegedly threatened with police action.“Kuldeep Singh, a Hindi master posted at a high school in Panjgrahian, did not receive any orders regarding election duty. Despite this, the Returning Officer asked the Batala SSP to ensure Kuldeep’s presence. Teachers now fear that cops can come calling anytime,” said Amarjit Shastri, a leader of the Democratic Teachers Front.“Assigning poll duty to teachers is a clear violation of RTE Act which says apart from teaching, teachers cannot be put on any other duty. We have met the DEO and the DC, but to no avail. We also met the DPI (Schools) in this regard yesterday,” said Shastri.The teachers also claim that they are asked to go door-to-door to prepare electoral rolls for which they have been given no training at all.“Based on the RTE Act, the Maharashtra Government has banned assigning poll duty to teachers. The Delhi Government has also issued orders in this regard. Southern states keep education and elections separate. However in Punjab, teachers are often told to do non-teaching work,” said a union leader.DEO Rakesh Bala could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.

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