Many government primary schools in Kozhikode continue to remain headless

Government Mappila Upper Primary School, Chennamangallur, in Kozhikode, has over 1,200 students and Government Mappila Upper Primary School, Kodiyathur, has around 1,000. Both do not have a head teacher at the helm for the past couple of years.

They are among the 151 government primary schools in the district where senior teachers have been given charge due to a legal tangle. There are 17 educational sub-districts in Kozhikode, in which Feroke, Mukkom, and Kozhikode city have the largest number of such schools without a head teacher, according to sources. Government Lower Primary School, Kothamangalam, Koyilandy, reportedly has the largest number of students without a head teacher. The teachers claim that it was difficult to take forward administration and teaching duties together.

There are over 1,600 such head-less schools across the State. The legal battle is between the State government and a section of teachers who are qualified to be promoted as head teachers. At least 12 years of teaching experience, and clearing of department-level tests and an exam on the Kerala Education Act and Rules (KEAR) are mandatory as per the Right to Education Act to become a head teacher. The Act had given three years from 2011 for aspirants to pass the mandatory Account (Lower) test conducted by the Kerala Public Service Commission and the KEAR test. The Education Department exempted those who turned 50 by June 2, 2014, from this rule. Promotions based on this were questioned in the Kerala High Court, which directed the government to issue a notification.

The Kerala government in February 2018 issued an order making test qualification mandatory for promotion of teachers as head teachers. However, the sub-rule (4) under 45 B in the KEAR contradicted that order as it permanently exempted those aged 50 from passing the Account (Lower) test. The Kerala Administrative Tribunal on February 25, 2019, put an end to the exemption, saying any executive order or circular from the government should not go against statutory rules.

The High Court, in another order on January 27, 2020, also cancelled the age-based exemption and directed to revert all those who were promoted as head teachers since 2018. After a section of unqualified head teachers approached the Supreme Court against this order, status quo was asked to be maintained. The State government has not appointed head teachers to these schools since then. The Kerala Administrative Tribunal (KAT) in February stayed a circular issued by the Education Department, which said that teachers aged above 50 could be promoted as head teachers even if they did not clear the mandatory tests.

A section of teachers says that there has been no legal hurdle to appoint head teachers in government primary schools. Appointments had been made in Wayanad, Palakkad, and Thrissur districts after test-qualified teachers managed to get favourable orders from the KAT. When the Tribunal asked if there was any problem in appointing the teachers, the government reportedly said there was a bar only on taking unqualified teachers.

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 12:05:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/many-government-primary-schools-in-kozhikode-continue-to-remain-headless/article36457441.ece

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