The government will now be able to act against teachers and office staff of private unaided schools if they are caught taking bribes, after the school education department recently delegated powers to the director of primary education to prosecute private school staffers for graft.
This effectively means the department can suspend, terminate the service or ‘remove from office’ teachers, including principals and school heads, and non-teachers, following an inquiry into their conduct.
Under the Prevention of Anti-Corruption Rules, 1988, section 19, the education department could take action only against employees of government-run and government-aided schools, whereas private school managements reserved the right to conduct inquiry and initiate action against their own staff.
Revising these rules, the government has now allowed the education department to directly suspend or terminate the services of private school employees guilty of corruption.
Through a government resolution (GR) issued last week, the department has changed the clauses published in its July 14, 2016 GR. “The department can take action against the teaching and non-teaching staff in government recognised and government aided and unaided schools,” reads the corrected clause. Previously, unaided schools were not included in it.
Education activists, fighting for parents and teachers causes, are in favour of the changes, stating that graft is on the rise in schools — donations are collected from parents during admissions, agents (usually school employees) guarantee seats or quick processing of papers for a fee and so on.
“Often the management tries to bury the evidence instead of taking action. Schools ask for donations from parents during admissions,” said Jayant Jain, president of Forum for Fairness in Education, a non-government organisation (NGO) working to help parents.
But the new rules have left private schools worried about government interference in school administration. They want the management to retain the right to prosecute its employees and not the government.
“Being privately-run institutes, we ought to retain the freedom to have our own rules for handling any complaints, including corruption charges,” said Yogesh Patel, director, Swami Vivekananda International Group of Schools in Kandivli and Gorai.
Managements fear that inquiries and actions taken by the government, against the employees convicted in graft cases, might get influenced by vested interests.
They said such actions were unnecessary, considering that every institute has its own policy to handle such complaints. An internal inquiry is conducted into the incidents, which decides the course of action to be taken by the management, said principals.
“Every school handles it differently,” said Father Francis Swamy, principal, St Mary’s School (ICSE), Mazgaon and joint-secretary of the Archdiocesan Board of Education, which runs 150-odd schools in Mumbai. “It is a good idea only if this is being done as a step towards uniformity.”