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Tuesday, Dec 04, 2007
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Some loud thinking is taking place again on the question of handing over the appointment of staff members in aided schools to the Public Service Commission. Our readers respond:
The raging controversy over the reported move of the government to entrust the appointment of staff in aided educational institutions in the State with the Public Service Commission (PSC) is a needless one.
Such a step will remain a dream as long as the prevailing power equations continue. How can we forget the setbacks suffered by the government in its attempts to tame the self-financing managements? The managements are indomitable right now and the lack of credibility of leaders of the main political parties does not enthuse the public to stand by them when a stand-off arises.
However, the controversy should make us sit up and ponder the ways in which public money is expended in areas where the government has virtually no decisive powers.
There cannot be any unanimity about the right to appoint the staff in aided educational institutions. Those favouring status quo will be the beneficiaries of the appointment system in vogue now. And those opposing the current method will be the beneficiaries of the reform.
It is an indisputable fact that several managements, cutting across communities, extort money from the job seekers. In some cases, concealed tender system is resorted to and the winner is invariably the highest bidder. The rancour and frustration of those let down can be guessed. How can teachers appointed on the strength of their purse do justice to the students, winning their approbation and admiration? Such managements are actually digging the grave of quality education. If the quality of education has nosedived, we need not seek the reason elsewhere. The vote bank politics practised by the major fronts will safeguard the interests of certain communities. The war cry heard now is indicative of what is to happen if any change is introduced. To save its face, the government can ‘direct’ the managements to accord due priority to the merit of the candidates.
KizhakkambalamFocus on corruption
PSC appointments in aided schools are quite unreasonable. These schools are fully owned and administered by various managements. Naturally, the right to appoint the staff is vested with the managements. Also, these schools maintain high standards, both in infrastructure and quality of service. But the corruption behind the appointments cannot be ignored.
The government should act in this area rather than encroaching into the rights of the managers. However, timely maintenance of schools buildings cannot be taken up without collections from the appointees.
Most of the aided schools of today were originally started by organisations such as churches, the Nair Service Society or by individuals as unaided schools with the sincere aim of providing education to children of their locality. Only a nominal amount was paid by the government as grant for running the schools. But at a certain stage, the government took over the responsibility of paying the salary of teachers in private schools without stipulating any condition for appointment.
The managers can now appoint anybody with the minimum qualification by accepting any amount as donation and the responsibility to pay the salary is with the government which is quite anomalous.
Appointment of staff is the major income of the managements of schools. A huge amount is charged and the whole system is commercialised. But taking over of the power of appointment from managers at this stage will invite protests. If they are deprived of their right to appointment, it will go against their interests. As a via media, it will be reasonable to give the right to appointment to the manager from the list of qualified teachers prepared by the PSC every year. This will take care of the educational standard and also the interest of the managers.
former Principal Mar Athanasius CollegeSentiments will be hit
Many aided schools in the State came up as a forum for local people to come together and establish some institution of common good. If appointment of staff in such aided schools is given to the PSC, it will hit local sentiments and enthusiasm. Sentimental values are not those which can be measured physically or numerically.
KalamasseryEnd to malpractice
The handing over of appointment of staff members in aided schools to the PSC is a welcome move. There are more than one lakh teachers in aided schools in the State.
The Kerala Educational Rules reforms committee is actively considering the above suggestion.
When the exchequer is meeting the expense of salaries and pension of the teachers and the maintenance of the schools, the move is just and proper.
The aided sector collects lakhs of rupees for appointments.
The managements reserve it as a legitimate right to collect contributions for appointments.
The government will have to stop this malpractice and ensure transparency by entrusting the appointments to the PSC.
The loud thinking is more wishful than workable because education tends to be a private affair, as in times gone by, though not effusing the same spirit or purity of purpose as then.
The judiciary also seems to approve of this trend as many of the recent rulings are such as rewarding or restoring rights to private initiative and enterprise in education.
For its part, the PSC will find the additional responsibility unpleasant because of the volume and variety of the tasks it already handles as regards appointments in sectors from agriculture and administration to industry and education itself.
The functioning is also adversely affected by prevalence of corruption and the absence of transparency in appointments; both drawbacks making the PSC less of the holy cow it was once thought of.
Since, at the end of the day, it is quality output of students that matters, let more attention be in this regard.
The private sector, by its very nature, is keener on delivering good results, and this approach will force the teachers to deliver on their potential, regardless of whether or how much they paid for their appointment in the first place.
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