NEW DELHI: Despite severe shortage of teachers in Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) schools and Delhi government schools, a sizeable portion of teachers have been missing from classes for about a month as they have been deputed for electoral roll revision duty for the upcoming Assembly polls. This is not the first time that the education system in these schools is suffering due to elections. Every time election approaches, teachers of Delhi Government schools and MCD schools are deputed to election duties, thus leaving the education system in jeopardy.
Ajay Veer Yadav, general secretary of the Government School Teachers’ Association (GSTA), told The Sunday Guardian: “Whenever teachers are deputed for outdoor tasks, it is the schools which suffer the most as sometimes, the authorities ask the teachers to do these duties after school hours. This puts extra burden on our already scheduled working hours. The mid-term examinations got over in September and now the CBSE board examinations are approaching. If the teachers are now assigned full-time election duty which will continue for some months, how will we finish our syllabus? This considerably affects the results of our students.”
According to the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, the pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) should be 30:1 in primary schools and 35:1 in upper primary schools. However, in Delhi government schools, this ratio is 35:1 in primary schools. As per data of the Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE), 24% of schools in Delhi have adverse PTR vis-à-vis that prescribed by the RTE Act. In Delhi, the total number of vacancies for teachers under the state government and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is 14,132 since 2016.
“Around two to three thousand teachers are deputed for election duties, whereas there is a severe shortage of teachers in all government schools of Delhi. Thousands of sanctioned posts are still vacant in schools and instead of appointing permanent teachers, the schools are being run by the guest teachers,” Yadav alleged.
In 2007, the practice of deploying government school teachers for non-educational purposes, such as election duty during school hours was challenged in the Supreme Court. The court had directed that “all teaching staff shall be put on duties of roll revisions and election work on holidays and non-teaching days…”
However, this makes the situation worse for MCD and the Delhi government school teachers as they have to work more during such duties. In every school, there are two to three teachers who work as a permanent Booth Level Officer (BLO). A BLO heads most of the election-related work, both before, during and post elections. Several teachers told this newspaper that due to some practical reasons, it is not possible to do election related work only on holidays or non-teaching days. One of the teachers who did not wish to be named said: “Election-related duties are very complex and takes time to understand in terms of operations and execution. Also, we have to go to each and every household to verify the voter ID before the elections.”
Another teacher from a MCD school in Munirka told The Sunday Guardian: “Now that the electoral roll revision work has been finished, from 15 November, camp for ‘Special summary revision of photo electoral roll’ will start in the government schools. So we have to depute some of our staff there too.”
A teacher from a MCD school in Dilshad Garden told The Sunday Guardian: “We do all this extra work before or after school hours or even holidays, so that the academic portion doesn’t get hampered. But it becomes very hectic for teachers. We don’t even get enough remuneration for such extra work.”
Officials of the Delhi Directorate of Education said that while deputing teachers in election-related works, the education department always tries to ensure that the academic activities of schools don’t get affected. “Usually, teachers who don’t teach any major subjects are deputed on electoral tasks so that students don’t suffer,” an official added.