Digitalise records

Of the several government record-keeping offices, popularly known as the Kitabkhanas, the School Teachers’ Kitabkhana is grievously understaffed. A mere seven-member staff is assigned to keep the gargantuan records of over 107,000 teachers nationwide. But there are 75 huge files each bearing the records of about 1,000 teachers from each districts. Put simply, the files are incomplete, largely because of inadequate hands to update and maintain records. Furthermore, in this age of computers and information technology, all of the record-keeping has been exiled to manual operation. This has forced the skeleton staff to do only what it deems unavoidably important. At best, it is busy maintaining the records of medical allowance, provident fund and a few other basic items. The sheer volume of work is gigantic enough to overwhelm the meagre seven-member staff.

Record keeping is as much an art as it is a science. And like any other branch of science, it has evolved into a sophisticated piece of work with records now stored and accessed at the click of a mouse. Governments around the world have long since switched to the digital means of record-keeping. That Nepal has only a plan to do so speaks volumes for how work, no matter how vital, is shunted off for tomorrow. A reliable digital means of keeping records falls within the government’s responsibility to determine if the office is performing at its full ability or not. Record office, after all, is the last referral stop whenever a need to verify facts arises. At a time when there has been a flurry of activity on the verification of fake-certificates, an efficient record office can go a long way towards easing that process. A large number of teachers have been affected by the ongoing Maoist insurrection and a record wing was established in 1997 just to keep track of this lot. It is unfortunate that the office is yet to sport a complete list and records of the affected ones.

Although the Ministry of Education is all set to install a computer data-base with the technical support from the Asian Development Bank, the computers requisitioned for that purpose have remained idle for lack of computer-literate staff. This highlights the weaknesses of a system that refuses to change. In order that the value of record-keeping is not underestimated, the government must provide trained manpower to do the job well. It is also time that electronic data-bases on different departments are established. This would greatly reduce the redundant staff besides providing a reliable and up-to-date service. The over-staffed sections could be culled or evenly distributed. Let there be no two minds about the importance of a digital database system for higher efficiency.