KAT stays State circular on head-teacher promotion

Row over a gazette notification exempting senior teachers from taking selection tests

The Kerala Administrative Tribunal (KAT) has stayed for two weeks a circular issued by the General Education Department on promotion of head teachers in government and aided primary schools.

The circular issued on February 16 said vacancies of head teachers that arose till May 31, 2020, should be filled within 10 days.

This followed a gazette notification on January 5 amending the Kerala Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules, 2011, to exempt teachers aged 50 and above from passing departmental tests and a test on Kerala Education Act and Rules.

The Kerala Test Qualified Primary Teachers’ Union, in a statement on Friday, said the KAT stay was a setback to government attempts to elevate unqualified senior teachers as head teachers in primary schools in violation of rules.

After the gazette notification amending the rules, the High Court had, last month, observed orally that status quo should continue until the Supreme Court settled the matter.

The High Court had also, on January 27 last year, directed the government to appoint only those who cleared departmental tests as head teachers, the union statement said.

When some teachers who had not cleared the tests approached the Supreme Court against the High Court order, the apex court had directed that status quo be maintained. Yet, the government had attempted to promote a few teachers who were set to retire in the coming months following pressure from unqualified members of teachers’ organisations, the union alleged, adding this bid had failed.

Many teachers who had cleared the tests were awaiting appointment as head teachers. Some of them would retire in March without getting a promotion that they were eligible for, the statement said.

The government had not appointed head teachers in nearly 1,000 government primary schools in the past one year. As the High Court verdict last year had not been stayed by the Supreme Court, there was no legal hurdle to appointing those who had qualified departmental tests as head teachers, union president K.N. Anand said, urging the government not to let primary schools remain headless.

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