Reservations for differently abled teachers are a rarity in aided schools in Kerala despite a Supreme Court order and Government directives.
Three per cent reservation was mandatory for them under the People With Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, from February 7, 1996. Under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, the quota was raised to 4% from April 19, 2017, with retrospective effect.
According to K.N. Anand, vice president of Differently Abled Association, aided school managements have not been following the provisions, claiming that the Kerala Education Rules (KER) do not have provisions for appointment of differently abled persons. Though the Social Justice Department issued an order in November 2018 to protect the rights of differently abled persons, a section of managements approached the Supreme Court against it.
When the association sought details of differently abled teachers in aided schools in Kannur and Kozhikode districts under the Right to Information Act, some managements claimed that they did not come under the purview of the Act. Some others said there were no provisions for reservations for the differently abled in the Education Department’s rules or laws.
Though various organisations approached the Government against the alleged violation of norms, it did not yield results. Later, the Kerala High Court and the Supreme Court upheld the views of the differently abled with retrospective effect, while dismissing the contention of aided school managements. The courts pointed out earlier this year that all institutions receiving funds from the Government for disbursing salaries should follow the rules related to reservations. The apex court also said the managements should not harp on the argument that the manager was the appointing authority, and that there were no provisions for reservation in the KER to deny benefits.
Meanwhile, the General Education Department issued a fresh order on November 8 to all aided school managers to follow the rules. Immediate steps should be taken to calculate the backlog and fill them. The Director General of Education has been asked to ensure that the order is implemented properly.
Mr. Anand, however, pointed out that the order did not have any reference to the KER. It does not also clearly stipulate a clear mechanism to clear the backlog of vacancies. He also wondered how the Director General could be the only implementing authority.