COIMBATORE: In the past 10 days, at least four cases of cheating by government schoolteachers have come to light from the western regions of the state, and in all the cases, the teachers had submitted forged and fake degree certificates to the state government. None of these cases would have occurred, had the school education department followed the norms stringently, feel experts.
For more than two decades, there has been a system in place to verify the documents submitted by the candidates while joining the state government service as a teacher. Every candidate who is appointed as a teacher in a government school, is kept in probation for one year. The school head, confidentially, sends a copy of the candidates' certificates to the respective educational institution or the state government, in case of class 10 and 12 mark sheets, to obtain a genuineness certificate. The school head has to route every document through the district education officer.
"Only after the school head receives the genuineness certificates from the colleges and universities, the candidate's appointment is confirmed," a senior school education department official said. Experienced government schoolteachers and officials of the school education department said the verification system was introduced around the year 1992. The school education department, according to officials, however, imposed stringency only after 2006. "The system was introduced to prevent cheating. And, in the 90s we did not have that many teachers. So, the verification process was smooth, and seldom were cases of cheating reported," a senior school education department official, who was a higher secondary government schoolteacher said.
Former district education officer I P Kanagasundaram said, "It is the advent of computer-generated mark sheets and degree certificates that paved way for forgery. Improved access to computer made it easier for touts and agents to manipulate documents." Kanagasundaram, who has also held the post of a school headmaster, said there was a lobby behind the whole forgery issue. He said, "It is an organised crime. There are agents who create these fake documents, and then there are people within the system who allow such documents to be accepted. People pay to get these documents made, and people in the system accept bribe to accommodate fake documents as proof."
On the other hand, police point out the methods that the touts resort to while forging the certificates. "The accused, with the help of touts have used certificates of employed people, and have either replaced the name or have altered the initials. In one case, the accused used the documents of a serving government schoolteacher in a neighbouring district," said a senior officer of Dharmapuri police.
Another interesting fact that comes to light as officials of school education department reveal the modus operandi of the touts in old cases is that some had made forged degree certificates to get alliances for marriage.
Some officials of the school education department say that most cheating cases are seen in the elementary education department. "There have been issues in the last five to seven years, where teacher associations have pointed out delay in promotion of teachers due to the failure of the department in verifying the certificates," said a school education department official.
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