Around three months after the State government asked schoolteachers not to use social media during work hours, the Director of General Education has warned higher secondary school staff of disciplinary action without notice if they are found to criticise the authorities through those platforms.
Citing Rule 60(a) of the Kerala Government Servants’ Conduct Rules, 1960, the circular issued on February 3 says: “No government servant shall, by any utterance, writing or otherwise, discuss or criticise in public or at any meeting or association or body any policy pursued or action taken by the government nor shall be in any manner participate in such discussion or criticism.”
However, some teachers and non-teaching staff in higher secondary schools were found to have expressed their opinion in violation of the rule and criticised the actions of the government and the department through social media. “...stern action will be initiated against such staff without notice,” the circular said.
Mobile phone ban
In November last year, the government had banned mobile phones in schools after concerns were raised about their adverse impact on students and teachers. Teachers were told not to use Facebook and WhatsApp when they were in classrooms.
A circular was issued then claiming that though there had been a similar order to this effect earlier too, its implementation had been tardy.
Higher secondary teachers, meanwhile, have termed the latest circular “a violation of democratic principles.”
Joshi Antony, vice chairman, Federation of Higher Secondary School Teachers’ Associations, a joint platform of higher secondary teachers, said here on Thursday that the Left Democratic Front government was trying to suppress critical voices.
“It can be argued that someone receiving government salary should not criticise the government. But, how fair is it to bar organisations from doing it,” he asked.
Mr. Antony claimed that a similar order banning high school and primary school teachers had been issued around a decade ago.
“This could also be part of the attempts to harass higher secondary school teachers, 90% of who are not part of the Left-backed teachers’ union,” he pointed out. The federation would convey its concerns to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Minister for General Education C. Ravindranath on Monday, Mr. Antony added.