Chandigarh The Chandigarh education department and government schoolteachers are headed for a showdown over increasing their working hours.The teachers work for 36 hours a week and the administration plans to move towards the minimum 45 hours stipulated under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009. To begin with, an increase of 45 minutes per day is planned. Around 4,500 teachers will be affected by the decision, if implemented.Officials say the administration wants to at least partly adopt the RTE Act’s mandate. According to the original plan, the UT had to increase the working hours from January 2018, but a committee constituted on December 19 last year is still working on the modalities. Its report is expected on January 15, an official privy to the development said.UT director, school education, Rubinderjit S Brar confirmed the matter is under discussion. “No decision has been taken as of now,” he said. Meanwhile, teacher associations are up in arms against the move. “If the department wants to increase the working hours according to the RTE Act, it should implement it fully and give all facilities to teachers as mentioned in it,” said Arvind Rana, president, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Teachers Welfare Association.In 2013, too, the then director, public instructions, had taken the same decision, but the teachers had gone on an indefinite strike. After three days, the decision was taken back.‘Implement all aspects’The city has 91 government senior secondary schools, 72 high schools, 25 middle schools and 13 primary schools. The first shift of the schools starts at 8:30am and ends at 2:30pm. The second shift is from 11am to 5pm.Of the 4,500 teachers, 1,200 are on contract. Also, there are 870 vacancies against the sanctioned posts. With 1.5 lakh students admitted to government schools, the student-teacher ratio comes out to 1:60. In senior secondary schools, it goes up to 1:80. “According to the RTE, the ratio should be 1:40. You can’t implement one aspect of the law and ignore others,” said Rana. Rana said the pay scales, allowances, medical facilities, pension, gratuity and other benefits should also be implemented according to the RTE Act. “Teachers are still doing non-academic work prohibited under the RTE,” he added. Government Teachers Union (GTU) also said that if implemented, the move will meet the same fate as in 2013.