Eighteen government schools and 13 private schools within an area of nine square metre, the school education scenario of the Mahe region of the Union Territory of Puducherry seems bright in terms of infrastructure. But, The expenditure cut of the Education Department, reportedly because of the financial crunch of the Union Government, has thrown the academic atmosphere out of gear in Mahe. And, the students in many schools and the Parent Teachers Associations have been on a warpath since the beginning of the academic year.
Many posts of teachers are lying vacant, as no appointment of permanent teachers took place during the last three years. The PTAs, which have been managing the schools with temporary teachers, have run out of funds to give wages to the teachers. The cooperative society MIT(Mahe Information Technology society), which is managing the appointment of computer instructors, is also finding it hard to provide wages. In all, about 75 posts, mainly of Computer, Mathematics, Arabic and specialist teachers, are lying vacant. Many temporary teachers are working without salary in the expectation that things would improve soon. Meanwhile, 18 temporary teachers in the primary section were terminated from service the other day. The teachers who take evening classes for students who are backward in studies, are also deprived of wages.
Majority of the temporary teachers receive a meagre salary of up to Rs 5,000. The fund crunch has affected the education sector so much that even the distribution of text books has not been done yet.
“Text books have to be bought from Kerala, which is getting lagged owing to the lack of funds. For the past five days, students have been on strike in the issue,” said C K Jayaram, an office-bearer of the joint council of the PTAs of 19 schools in the region. The joint council that met on Friday decided to strengthen the protest in this regard.
“The Centre has cut short the funds for the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan programme. Mahe used to receive a plan fund of Rs 1.5 crore for SSA. But recently, it has been cut short to `67 lakh,” SSA officer Prabhakaran Master said.
The weakened exchequer of Puducherry is learnt to be the reason for the failure in managing the fund cut through alternative resource mobilisation. The DYFI and the SFI have declared that they would launch a stir in this regard soon.
The administration of many higher secondary schools are also in crisis, as senior teachers from Puthucherry, who are often appointed as principals in schools on seniority basis, hesitate to stay in Mahe. They avail of long leave, entrusting duties to vice-principals, who fail to take time-bound decisions on significant issues. The CEO (Chief Education Officer) of the region, who is authorised to take care of academic and administrative matters, could not effectively monitor the concerns as the Plus-Two teachers do not heed to CEO as their designation is higher than that
of the officer. Moreover, many higher secondary teachers whose mother tongue is not Malayalam, find it difficult to communicate with the students and they end up in virtually skipping the classes.
Since the student outfits and PTAs are planning further protests asking the government to sincerely address the educational woes of the region, the Puducherry Director of School Education E Vallavan visited Mahe a couple of days ago.
But it is learnt that he too abstained from offering any effective solutions to the burning issues.