THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Around thirty thousand teachers and more than a lakh students face uncertainty as more than 1,500 unrecognised schools face closure at the end of the current academic year. Sources say government is bound to accommodate the students, however, it is helpless as far as the teachers are concerned.
“We have no options left to save the jobs of teachers. These are private institutions with no recognitions. But we are bound to help the students and hence we are transferring them to government and aided schools,” said A Shahjahan, General Education secretary.
Flaying the decision, O Shoukathali, general secretary, Kerala Higher Secondary Teachers Union, said: “We will not allow the government to close down the schools. It will not happen. If it happens, it would be a disastrous decision. We are committed to save the jobs. The government should make these schools capable of meeting the basic standards for recognised schools instead of closing down,” he said.
Meanwhile, as far as students of these schools are concerned, the general education department is yet unprepared to accommodate them. Lack of infrastructure and a dearth of teachers has rendered many government and aided schools incapable of more admissions. With only four months left for the new academic year, sources say, the government has a difficult task ahead.
According to sources, of 4,504 government schools and 7,277 aided schools, majority of the schools can’t admit many students due to the unavailability of classrooms and shortage of teachers. “The increase in the number of students will also skew the teacher-student ratio. At present, the ratio is 1:27,” the source said. As per education department data, 1,585 unrecognised schools will face closure in the coming academic year.
Allaying the fears, A Shahjahan, said the government would initiate steps to upgrade the facilities at the government and aided schools where the students from the closed schools would be admitted. “The admissions process will begin from April for the next academic year and we will ensure that students are unaffected,” he said.
The department has begun scrutinising the list of unrecognised schools and will publish the names of the schools which would face closure based on priority.
The priority is based on the schools, including those from CBSE and ICSE streams, complying with Right To Education (RTE) Act and Kerala Education Rules (KER) norms, and No Objection Certificate (NOC). As per the RTE rule, no elementary school (from Classes I to VIII) can function without the state government’s recognition. When the RTE Act was implemented in the state in 2011, a three-year time frame was given to all unaided schools to obtain a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) from the state government subject to fulfilling its stringent conditions.