Protesting against the new staff approval criterion, under which thousands of teachers have been declared surplus, a majority of Mumbai's government-aided schools and some private schools could remain closed on December 12.
Earlier, approvals were granted for one-and-a-half teachers for each division, but the new rule allows only one teacher for each division. The move had rendered nearly 40,000 teachers across the state surplus last year. The number is expected to rise further this year.
“Fifteen teachers across our schools were rendered surplus last year, but we managed to accommodate them in other schools under our group. The government should scrap the new criterion,” said Amol Dhamdhere, vice-president, Indian Education Society Group of Schools.
Various schools’ and teachers’ associations have threatened to call an indefinite strike, if the problem is not solved in the winter Assembly session, which starts on December 8.
According to schools, the education department gave approvals based on the total number of teachers and has not differentiated between regular teachers and special teachers, who teach subjects such as arts, physical education and music. This has led to cases where teachers of a particular subject are declared surplus because there is a special teacher in place. “How can you expect a music teacher to teach math or science,” asked Dhamdhere. “They are only counting the number of teachers without looking at the subjects.”
The teachers’ associations have also objected to the government’s decision to pay surplus teachers offline from this month, until they find another position. Currently, all teachers receive their pay online under the government’s new ‘Shalarth’ system.
“Surplus teachers in Thane who were to receive their salaries offline, were not paid for nearly a year,” said Kapil Patil, member of the legislative council from the teachers’ constituency.