THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala High Court’s order, setting aside the teacher-pupil ratio of 1:45 to determine the staff strength of schools, even while upholding certain provisions of the teachers’ package, has evoked mixed reactions from the academic community.
Teachers associations have welcomed the reduced teacher-pupil ratio of 1:30 (for classes I to V) and 1:35 (for classes VI to VII) as stipulated in the Right to Education Act (RTE) as this would create close to 8,000 additional vacancies at a time when the state is grappling with ways to accommodate over 17,000 retrenched teachers.
However, they are apprehensive of the court striking down a provision that prior government approval is mandatory for appointment of teachers in aided schools. The academic community feels this will give managements a free hand for “putting up the vacancies for sale”.
“The High Court order, which upheld certain provisions of the teachers’ package, is silent on how appointments will be made to teaching vacancies that are created after the revised teacher-pupil ratio is implemented,“ said K C Harikrishnan, general secretary of Kerala School Teachers Association.
Harikrishnan says this will lead to a peculiar situation where the government continues to pay salary for nearly 17,000 teachers, while the managements will make fresh appointments against the newly-created vacancies. Teachers’ representatives point out that this will entail a huge financial burden to the government in terms of payment of salaries.
The KSTA also suspects whether the High Court order is an outcome of a “tacit understanding” between the government and the managements. “The government which had the time to rectify the anomalies delayed it indefinitely so that its current term comes to an end. This in a way helped the private managements,” Harikrishnan said.
Kerala Aided Teachers Association general secretary A V Indulal says the government should bring out a fresh order to clear the ambiguity on appointments to be made against the new vacancies.
A new chapter
■ Existing Teacher-Pupil Ratio is 1:45
■ New Ratio is 1.30 (LP) and 1:35 (UP)
■ Close to 8,000 new vacancies will be created