Mumbai: In a dramatic turn of events, Mumbai's school teachers are up in arms against the BMC's decision to deploy them for non-academic tasks, particularly during the critical exam season. The latest mandate from the BMC's education department has drawn widespread criticism from educators who argue that such directives not only disrupt the academic calendar but also jeopardise the educational well-being of students.
The controversy stems from the BMC's order requiring teachers to serve as booth level officers (BLO) for election duties, diverting them from their primary responsibility of teaching.
Teachers Oppose BMC Move:
Expressing their frustration, teachers have voiced concerns over the detrimental impact of their absence on students' academic progress. With nearly half of the teaching workforce diverted to election duties, schools are left in a state of chaos.
At Mulund Vidya Mandir School, 100% of teachers are assigned election commission duty. For the Maratha reservation survey also 100% of teachers were on duty. During that time, parent representatives and former students kept the school going on for 15 days. Now from February 11 to April 29, teachers are assigned the election duty then how will school run, teachers and parents question.
What RTE Act Says?
At the heart of the issue lies Section 25 and Section 27 of the Right to Education Act, which stipulates that teachers should not be deployed for non-academic work except for tasks outlined in Section 27, such as decennial population census, disaster relief, elections to Parliament, state legislatures and local bodies.
Vijay Patil, vice president of the National Employees' Union, highlighted the legal complexities surrounding the matter, citing recent HC judgments that emphasise employees' right to refuse election duties. Despite raising concerns with officials, Patil expressed disappointment at the lack of action. Some teachers who refused duty were threatened at polling stations. At the NM Joshi Marg election office, some were warned that police will be sent to their houses or will be suspended, he added.
Amid growing discontent, teachers are mobilising to oppose the directives, with some even contemplating boycotting the election process. Concerned parents are also joining the fray, expressing worries about the continuity of their children's education.