The state government has put teachers back on census, disaster relief and local, state legislature and Parliament election duties, despite the Right to Education (RTE) Act stating that teachers should not be assigned any non-educational duties that affects their focus on students.
A GR was issued to this effect by the state on May 22, which stated that deploying teachers for such duties was a necessity.
The RTE Act had brought relief to teachers by mandating that they could be deployed for non-educational duties only if the pupil-teacher ratio in schools was maintained at 30:1 (there was one teacher for every 30 students).
However, the latest GR says teachers will not be excused from such duties even though a majority of state schools have not fulfilled the RTE-mandated pupil-teacher ratio.
Already burdened with practical and oral exams, and continuous comprehensive evaluation year round, teachers are upset by the decision.
“In my school, we are falling short of six teachers, that adds to our burden. Despite this, the state is not ready to excuse us from such duties. It is not following its own rules,” said Rajesh Pandya, a Hindi teacher for Class 9 and 10 at Fatima English High School, Malad.
He added that the state had promised to decrease the workload on teachers; instead they are now expected to do poll duties in addition to school work. “If we go for election duty, students will suffer. We miss out on so many working days,” he said.
Teachers claim that valuable teaching hours are lost owing to this non-educational work. Election duties and census work goes on for five to seven days, not to mention the training conducted for at least five days before the actual work begins.
“In election duties, we have to spend a whole night at the polling centre looking after the equipment. It’s back-breaking work,” said a teacher from a Vile Parle school.
“We have to attend school in the morning and still go for election training in the evening,” the teacher said.