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Srinagar: Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a well-known school in Srinagar has fired at least 20 teachers who refused to use ‘Zoom’ video conferencing application following the reports that it was prone to hackers.

The authorities at Green Valley Educational Institute in Ellahi Bagh Srinagar Thursday served termination notices to at least 20 teachers, mostly females, who were hired just two months back after the latter expressed their apprehension about the privacy and security issues flagged by users regarding ‘Zoom’.

 

The Kashmir Monitor got hold of the termination letters handed over digitally to the teachers.

 “You have explicitly expressed your non availability to join e-classes which is the need of the hour…Your letter of dissent to take the e-classes is enclosed herewith…Consequent upon your dissent, which tantamount the blatant disregard and disrespect of the school rules and regulations, the Management has decided not to extent your probation…your services are dispensed off with immediate effect (sic),” reads one of the orders issued to a teacher on Thursday.

One of the many termination orders issued by the school on Thursday

In rest of the orders too, the school has cited the same reason to fire the teachers.

The school has also withheld the salaries of these teachers during these tough times.

“Whatever is due to you in terms of salary for the period you worked, it will be disbursed after the reopening of the institution,” reads the order.  

The Kashmir Monitor has already reported how the application is under scrutiny over privacy and pornographic hacks.

A teacher who was issued the termination notice told The Kashmir Monitor that while they had expressed their hesitation about ‘Zoom’, the teachers never refused to conduct online classes as claimed by the school.

“We told the management that we are ready to use any other application except Zoom. We even informed them that if we are conducting four classes with Zoom, we will conduct five using any other application,” the teacher said.

Many teachers, especially females, had actually written to the management about the same.

“They, however, made it a point to fire teachers during this crisis,” the teacher said.

The termination of services by Green Valley School comes a few days after PM Modi, in his country-wide address, urged organisations not to fire their employees and treat them well.

Besides, on Thursday, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued an advisory terming ‘Zoom’ application an “unsafe platform”.

“Zoom is not a safe platform even for usage of individuals a detailed advisory has already been issued by CERT-India,” the home ministry said in the advisory.

Chairman Green Valley School, Mohammad Yousuf Wani initially said the school had “not issued termination letters but show-cause notices to the teachers.”

When this reporter pointed out that the letters clearly mentioned firing the teachers, the Chairman said only those were asked to leave who had joined in February 2020 and were on probation, while the rest were issued show cause notices.

“These are a few teachers who are creating problems. When all schools are using the application, why do handful of these (teachers) have a problem with Zoom?” he said.

The Chairman added that they will stop using the application if the government clearly issues orders about banning it.

Director School Education Kashmir, Dr Younis Malik told The Kashmir Monitor that he too has received a complaint from the teachers and he will “contact the school authorities.”

Labour Commissioner J&K, Abdul Rashid War said the teachers should contact him or send a representation and he will issue a notice to the school.

“Ideally the teachers should have been given an opportunity to explain themselves. The school cannot fire them right-away,” he said.

Interestingly, War said he too has asked his daughter not to use the application for online classes considering the security issues.

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About the Author

A journalist by chance with over five years of experience in reporting, editing, and bucketing local, national and international content for my current organization. I have covered education, health, politics, and human rights. I like working for a daily, though I occasionally try my pen in long-form to connect personal narratives with history.

16 comments

  1. In the letter there is no mention of ZOOM app in first place.Secondly how can one conclude that staff fired just because they refused to use ZOOM app.It could be other reason too.May be school administration is right.

  2. All the educational institutions should use the Cisco Webex for online classes. All media streams are encrypted during sessions between Webex apps and the Webex cloud. E2EE can be enabled to prevent stream decryption and limit encryption key access to a meeting’s host and attendees.
    Cisco Webex also shields data at rest. That means hashed, salted, and encrypted passwords that are at very low risk of ever falling into the wrong hands.
    However, Cisco WebEx is higher cost solutions then any other online meeting solution.

  3. This is Issue of concern especially for Female teachers & students,When MOHA have given officially Advisory over Zoom app these JK Private schools should show same response,But unfortunately these Back dumpes minds never understand these ethics & always shows arrogance and self dictated rules.First Govt needs to take against these schools without show cause notice.

    1. CISCO has a special price bundle for Education Institutions which makes it the best choice in terms of a single platform offering complete Virtual Classroom environment at a price which is easily affordable for schools over other applications which offer only solutions in piece meals.
      CISCO is a Global Leader in technology and some schools in Jammu and valley have started using it.
      It’s time that schools need to adopt latest technology at a faster pace so that our children do not suffer due to lack of proper remote education and may I add it works like a breeze even on our 2G connections in J&K.
      Give it a try! It dosen’t cost a penny to try. https://www.myasa.net

  4. I am also a teacher and couple of days before i was informed to take zoom classes.But due to hacking problem i was immediately reported and i deleted the app.Not only for G V teachers the privacy is important,but for all.so to terminate a teacher for this kind of situation is not a good option..

  5. two points need to be cleared
    Firstly why only female teacher(i feel they are made victims of some sort of thing)
    Secondly when home ministry clearly mentioned of unsafeness of the application how come they terminate female teachers on that basis

  6. Its now becoming a trend in our state to apply Use and through policy over the educated youth. It’s very unfortunate even now no body has claimed against it so far. There must become a proper rule and guidelines to engage a teacher .
    It’s just a dictator policy of Some pvt schools to rude the future of youth for a little issue
    I again Appeal to whole youth and Especially pvt. School association to Come forward as if there is time to implement your power regarding this Issue. It’s not happening first time in our state so many times such cruel action has been covers up. I request every body to stand against this

  7. Cruel act of higher authority. It’s is a cheap policy while everyone is in struggle to manage his financial balance you people find it chance to beat the iron while it is hot.. Shamefully act..
    Pvt. School association must come forward to look over the matter otherwise what is the purpose of electing such Body..

  8. I received an email and I quote,
    “It seems that, 2865rafm, is your password.

    I need your total attention for the next Twenty-four hrs, or I will certainly make sure you that you live out of embarrassment for the rest of your existence.

    Hello, you do not know me personally. However I know pretty much everything about you. All of your facebook contact list, phone contacts plus all the digital activity on your computer from previous 175 days.

    And this includes, your self pleasure video clips, which brings me to the primary motive why I ‘m crafting this e mail to you.

    Well the previous time you visited the porno web sites, my malware ended up being activated in your personal computer which ended up logging a lovely video footage of your masturbation play simply by activating your webcam.
    (you got a incredibly strange preference btw lmao)

    I have got the full recording. In the case you feel I am messing around, just reply proof and I will be forwarding the particular recording randomly to 9 people you’re friends with.

    It might end up being your friend, co workers, boss, parents (I don’t know! My system will randomly choose the contact details).

    Will you be capable to look into anyone’s eyes again after it? I doubt that…

    Nonetheless, it doesn’t need to be that path.

    I’m going to make you a one time, non negotiable offer.

    Purchase USD 2000 in bitcoin and send them to the listed below address:

    b***c1qehd0dmkxkfjwmjynhsnvmhfyw50xcku0gutqsk
    [CASE SENSITIVE copy & paste it, and remove *** from it]

    (If you do not understand how, google how to buy bitcoin. Do not waste my important time)

    If you send out this particular ‘donation’ (let us call it that?). After that, I will disappear and never ever contact you again. I will delete everything I have concerning you. You may very well continue living your current normal day to day lifestyle with no fear.

    You’ve 24 hours in order to do so. Your time begins as soon you read through this email. I have got an unique program code that will inform me as soon as you read this e-mail therefore don’t try to act smart.”
    Unquote
    This is how people approach you.
    The password the person is talking about was an old password (4 or 5 years old) and it looked the person got hold of that very recently and forgot to check whether it still works or not.
    My suggestion be careful.

  9. All the female teachers who refused to use ZOOM application are right so for genuineness of the same is concerned ,It appears that school authorities are not aware about the apprehensions raised by the users. I have seen the parents eho put hold on their accounts to avoid any fraudulent transactions through their accounts , so termination of these teachers is not justified.

  10. Clearly, this situation shows the exact problem with these “private” schools. Lack of Privacy, yes, you heard it right. About data of millions of people using zoom is availible for sale on the Dark Web, this includes the information of who you contacted, what you said, some images and maybe a video, also your email adress and the password of zoom account. Basically everything “Private” is at risk. And i want to appreciate the fact that those teachers stood upto this. School faculty must undo the decision and find a better way to connect with their students, there’s a lot of apps like, Skype, YouTube and etc. No only the privacy of teachers but the privacy of students is at risk too.

  11. The issue is a tricky one. The teachers who have reportedly been shown the door, were engaged only slightly over a month back. Of course, the school must have engaged them with an intention of continuing for the whole academic year and beyond but the unforseen circumstances with regard to the Covid-19 pandemic, the schools were ordered shut immediately. This led to innovation being the only way to engage students academically whilst being at home. Zoom might have issues but not so grave that education can’t be delivered via this application. Many private coaching institutions have been delivering content to tens of hundreds of students. The teachers refusing to use it are trying to find an alibi to shirk work. The decision of the Green Valley management should be taken in this light without rushing to conclusions.

    1. I don’t think that the teachers are trying to find an alibi to shirk work. If they’re concerned about their privacy, well, they have a right to do so. Basically firing them isn’t the good option. Neither is forcing them to use the application. Them being concerned about someone evading their privacy shows how active and conscious they are. Surely, no one wants to be contacted by someone and be told “hey i have your private data like browsing, chats and photos. Give me rs20k otherwise I’ll leak everything. Of course, you might ask why would the teachers have to worry about some random data or whether the teachers are criminals?.. Nope, but someone negotiating to you for a personal amount of data could be outrageous as always. So i think the school’s decision to fire them was stupid ( without hearing the concern)

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