Sunday, 8 November 2015

Regarding Retention and Attrition in Government and Government Aided Schools in India

The Indian Pension Act 1972 and the Indian Pension norms make it difficult for staff in Government and Government Aided Schools to shift to the Private Sector before a period of twenty years. Some how this is one of the strongest factors that forces staff to languish stagnate for years in spite of the efforts of the Educational Departments to provide them with some sort of an in-service programme. It is true that the promise of job security (irrespective of the quality of work) and the possibility of promotion through a common roster for  staff in the Government Sector means that once in, you might never leave! If retention levels are very high in Government and Government Aided schools, it is not because they provide a better environment, rather it is because of the  repressive, archaic and nepotistic acts and rules that govern a job in a Government School.
When a person joins a post as a teacher in Government or Government Aided school as a teacher  it is for keeps even in it ends up in stagnation and frustration on not being able to be innovative enough. often years of routine processes, lack of recognition for initiative, and lack of challenges mean that the employee soon becomes disillusioned and dissatisfied with plodding on and on. Why then don’t employees quit before they become disillusioned and fed up with a system that pays homage to an archaic system of rules and regulations that are more constricting than liberal? The answer is straight forward, you can’t quit before completing twenty years of service because then you will not get your pension, nor will you get your gratuity, and this is what I experienced when I decided to quit my job in a Government Aided School in Delhi after seventeen years of dedicated service. No, I was constricted by the archaic norms, I was fed up of the same routine year in and year out, and I wanted out! My regrets? Well, I was denied my pension and my gratuity. The reason given by the Directorate of Education at Lucknow Road? well they said I had quit before completing the mandatory twenty  years of service according to the Indian Pension Act 1972! The norms however are different for employees working in the Private Sector schools, as accordingly employees who serve for five years are eligible to get their gratuity!
Labour norms, including pension and gratuity norms that discriminate between Government and Private Sector employees are parochial, dictatorial, and favour forceful retention of Employees in the government sector even if it means employees want out! The question is, whether forceful retention of employees in Government and Government Aided Schools through unfair Pension and Gratuity Norms is ethical, and democratic in nature! I very strongly feel that the 1972 Pension norms need to be rationalised as in their existing form they infringe on the rights of employees to switch to the Private Sector. Ultimately, what matters is to have a fresh and dedicated workforce and not a disillusioned and fatigued workforce irrespective of where it works, Private or Government sectors. It is said that some amount of attrition is good for the organisation. It helps bring in new and fresh workforce, and it helps grant opportunities for those who want to opt out to grow professionally. The existing pension, gratuity, and education acts allow employees to move from one Government service to another Government Service but they don’t allow a Government Employee to move into a Private Sector job before the mandatory twenty years of  Service!
The fact of the matter is that forceful retention of workforce in Government Schools is causing more harm than good in the long run. It is very important that pension, gratuity and service rules are liberalised and rationalised so that they favour a healthy amount of attrition in government schools. Also, Central government pension rules need to cater to service in the private sector and accept that if an employee in a private sector school is eligible for gratuity after five years of service, then why not an employee in a government School? Research has show that while attrition up to 30 per cent  is healthy, forced retention is unhealthy is equally unhealthy. It is high time service rules, labour rules and Pension/ gratuity rules were rationalised so as to promote a healthy movement of employees from Government Schools to Private sector schools and vice versa, without the looming threat of the withholding of funds and perks that are the employee’s right!
In today’s world where outsourcing is the norm, and the Government is talking about Private, Public and Government partnership in the Education sector, it is important that there should be a free movement of workforce from one sector to the other. Forced retention by the government sector is affecting the quality of the workforce. Liberalisation of Government Service rules are the need of the hour.  

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