The Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) disrupted proceedings in the Assembly on Tuesday in protest against the delay in supplying textbooks for schools, forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House for the day ahead of schedule.
Moving notice for an adjournment motion on the issue, Janata Dal (S) leader Mathew T. Thomas said 50 lakh students in government and aided schools had been let down by the government’s failure to ensure the distribution of textbooks, a month after schools had reopened.
In his reply, Education Minister P.K. Abdu Rabb said the printing and supply of textbooks would be completed by July 20. He said a daily monitoring mechanism had been put in place to ensure timely distribution.
Pointing to the information provided by Minister for Printing K.P. Mohanan in the Assembly, Mr. Thomas alleged that the final order for printing textbooks had been issued to the Kerala Books and Publishing Society (KBPS) only in February, indicating the lapse on the part of the Education Department. “The Ministers are speaking in different voices on the issue,” he said.
Mr. Thomas said the government was yet to distribute free uniforms for children and provide toilets and other basic infrastructure in schools.
Mr. Rabb said the scarcity of quality paper and the revision of the syllabus for select classes had led to the delay in printing textbooks.
He refuted the Opposition’s charge that the printing had been delayed to award the contract to a private press.
With Speaker N. Sakthan turning down the demand for adjournment to discuss the issue, the Opposition members moved to the well of the House, shouting slogans. As the protest continued, the Speaker suspended the proceedings in a bid to find a negotiated settlement.
Before announcing the protest, Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan said the Education Department was steeped in corruption.
The government had failed to respond even after the High Court had expressed displeasure over the delay in distributing textbooks.
Mr. Achuthanandan said the government had also failed to post teachers in time for the new academic year.
“The government’s response smacks of a bid to undermine the public education system in the State,” he said.
The protest continued when the House reassembled after 30 minutes. With the Opposition in no mood to relent, the Speaker adjourned the House for the day after rushing through the voting on demands for grants in the budget for the departments of stamps and registration, food, excise, fisheries, and ports.
The Speaker adjourned the House till Monday.
Printing, supply will be over by July 20: Rabb
Opposition forces adjournment of House