IAS officer K.K. Pathak resigns after spearheading critical, but controversial reforms in Bihar Education Department

Mr. Pathak was at loggerheads with Education Minister Chandra Shekhar, the Opposition BJP and the Raj Bhavan; slammed for harsh decisions on teacher accountability, reduced festive holidays

Published - January 12, 2024 07:17 am IST - PATNA

K.K. Pathak, credited with beginning a positive transformation in Bihar’s government schools, has resigned as Additional Chief Secretary of the State Education Department, which he had headed since last year. The 1990 batch Bihar cadre IAS officer quit just before Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s scheduled distribution of job offers to 1.10 lakh teachers in the second phase of the department’s recruitment process, slated to be held in Patna on January 13.

Mr. Pathak’s resignation letter, which The Hindu has seen, is dated January 9 and clearly states that he resigned due to his own wish. However, it is believed that he resigned under political pressure, as he was not on good terms with Bihar Education Minister Chandra Shekhar. The Rashtriya Janata Dal leader has expressed disappointment with Mr. Pathak’s style of decision-making in the government and had previously met the CM to lodge a formal complaint against the Additional Chief Secretary (ACS).

Mr. Pathak could not be contacted for comment, despite several attempts.

‘Anti-Hindu’ move to reduce holidays

The ACS has taken steps to boost teacher recruitment and improve mid-day meals, but also to bring in accountability among government teachers and educational institutions.

Some of his decisions have been criticised by the Opposition BJP in the State; for instance, several BJP leaders, including Union Minister Giriraj Singh, slammed the move to reduce annual festive holidays from 23 to 11 days, terming it as “anti-Hindu”. Senior BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member Sushil Modi asked the CM to sack Mr. Pathak. However, the decision was taken to comply with the Right to Education (RTE) Act requirement of 220 teaching days per year.

BJP MLC Nawal Kishor Yadav also threatened to move privilege against Mr. Pathak in the Legislative Council, in response to his order to stop teachers’ salaries as a disciplinary measure. The Education department has also been at loggerheads with the Raj Bhavan for a few months. On December 26, Governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar wrote to Bihar Chief Secretary Amir Subhani, seeking action against Mr. Pathak for his harsh decisions relating to the operation of schools and universities.

‘No compromise’

Though many of his decisions were seen as harsh, their impact has been visible. Surprise inspections of government schools in remote areas of Bihar have put headmasters and principals on their toes all the time. While inspecting a government school in Bhagalpur district a few weeks ago, Mr. Pathak categorically said that there would be no compromise on the education front.

Mr. Pathak’s decision to serve good mid-day meals and boost children’s attendance has been appreciated by parents. After an order to remove the names of 20 lakh children who remained absent for more than 15 days, absenteeism among students has been reduced.

Teacher accountability

Maximum recruitment has taken place this year, with more than 1.2 lakh teachers being hired. The newly appointed teachers under the Bihar Public Service Commission (BPSC) were asked to prove their merit by teaching village children by going into the villages themselves.

In the latest order of the department, teachers have been asked to remain in school from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and keep a record of the work done each day. Teachers have started reaching work on time after the department issued an order to stop the salary of those teachers who remained absent without giving any information. The salaries of 13,000 school teachers were cut over the last six months, and 39 teachers suspended, for violating several teaching rules.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.