KER amendment row heats up

Managements say they are willing to rent out schools for reasonable rent

The government plan to amend the Kerala Education Rules (KER) to correct anomalies in the appointment of teachers to aided schools has generated much heat and pitted school managers and a section of teachers against the government.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had on Sunday asked aided school managers not to threaten the government and that since the government pays the salaries to the staff in such schools, it could take over their managements and pay their rent. Responding to Mr. Vijayan’s ‘threat’, the managements on Monday said they too were willing to opt for the arrangement provided they get reasonable rent.

A.A. Hameed, general secretary, Kerala Private Aided School Managers Association, says the government has for the past four years been denying salary to teachers appointed legally in these schools and making them run around seeking legal recourse. If any illegal teacher appointment has been made, it should be investigated. There are mechanisms in the KER for this.

Budget announcement

On the Budget announcement for a change in the creation of a new post even if the student ratio is exceeded by one student, Mr. Hameed says the teacher-student ratio has been laid down in the Schedule of the Right to Education (RTE) Act. The High Court and Supreme Court have directed that the State government must maintain the ratio. It is in contravention of this that the government is planning to act.

Kerala Pradesh School Teachers Association general secretary M. Salahudheen says the government move would not stand scrutiny by a court of law. In many countries abroad, the teacher-student ratio is 1:20. Fewer number of students in class is necessary to ensure quality education.

Aided Higher Secondary Teachers Association general secretary S. Manoj says the Minister’s announcement of an increase of 5 lakh students would necessitate an increase in teachers’ posts. However, no teachers’ posts have been sanctioned in many years. Moreover, aided school managers still have the authority to make appointments as per the KER.

However, Harikumar K.J., president of the pro-government Kerala School Teachers’ Association, says the Right to Education (RTE) does not specify the minimum number of students required to create a new division in a class. This is being exploited by the managers to create a new post the moment one new student is enrolled in excess of the ratio. This is what the government wanted to review.

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