In a move aimed at making appointments to teaching posts in government-aided schools in the State more transparent and in conformity with the laws, the State government has decided to bring aided-school managers within the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act with immediate effect. The Education Department has issued an order in this regard recently and it is now being circulated among school managers and headmasters across the State.
The initiative was in response to a recommendation from State Information Commissioner M.N. Gunavardhanan, who was approached by K.V. Seenamol of Nettur in Ernakulam district on rejection of her RTI query to SM High School, Cherayi, over the nature of an appointment.
While considering Ms. Seenamol’s appeal in February, Mr. Gunavardhanan asked the State government why it was not appointing school managers as information officers. Rejecting government’s argument that school managers are not appointed by the government, he ordered that they must definitely come under the RTI Act as they handled public money.
“It is the State government that pays salary, benefits and even pension to teachers appointed by managers of aided schools. Managers are answerable to the government because they are running the schools with financial help from the government. The General Education Department must issue an order bringing aided-school managers under the ambit of the RTI Act,’’ said the State Information Commissioner.
The Government Order, issued by General Education Deputy Secretary V. Ratnamma last week, said the decision to bring managers under the RTI Act was taken after examination of the nature of appointments in aided schools and the way they were getting government money.
As per the order, managers of lower primary, upper primary and high schools are bound to reply to RTI queries and the appellate authority would be the Assistant Education Officer concerned. In higher secondary and vocational higher secondary schools too, the managers are bound to answer RTI queries.
Higher Secondary Regional Deputy Director and Vocational Higher Secondary Regional Assistant Director will be the appeal authorities respectively.
Ms. Seenamol had sought details of a fresh appointment made by the school management in 2000 but the manager returned the RTI query saying the rule was not applicable to him. Her appeal was rejected by the District Education Officer laterThen she approached the State Information Commission.