Amid COVID-19 scare, teachers in Odisha are reluctant to participate in house listing and updation of National Population Register (NPR), scheduled to be taken up between April and September.
During the 45-day survey, more than 1.5 lakh teachers will be deployed to collect data on 31 different questions regarding house-listing and housing census, a precursor to the population enumeration exercise of the main census in 2021.
Although schools are closed till April 15 and teachers are off the duty in the State, the fear of coming in contact with diverse sections of people during the survey has increased their anxiety.
“We have already seized of the matter. The issue is being discussed in our association. We cannot dishonour official direction if asked to participate in the survey. But question arises as to who will come forward to share information when we knock their door during survey,” said Rajendra Prasad Rout, senior zonal member of Lower Secondary Teachers’ Association of Kendrapara.
Many teachers on condition of anonymity said that when there was acute shortage of masks and sanitisers to take care of personal hygiene, it was difficult to risk one’s life during the survey in April and May when the coronavirus outbreak was expected to peak then.
Appeal to govt.
Prakash Chandra Jena, general secretary, All Odisha Lower Secondary Teachers’ Association, said, “Under the Right to Education Act, teachers cannot say no to their deployment in census and election duty. We are preparing a memorandum for requesting the government to postpone the survey. Teachers will have no problem in taking up the survey if the government announces that the society is safe from coronavirus.”
When asked, Premananda Khuntia, Director of Census Operations and Director of Citizen Registration, Odisha, said, “There are around 3.5 lakh teachers in Odisha. We are going to engage 1.5 lakh teachers, who are tech savvy, because the survey work will be done in mobile application. At this moment, we are not in a position to give any concrete assurance. The State government will come up with another notification for survey.”
“This is a national phenomenon. We are waiting for a direction from the Centre as we are in an evolving crisis,” Mr. Khuntia said. Meanwhile, three of 30 district administrations have stopped training for the house-listing and NPR updation in the light of coronavirus scare.