A new rule that requires school principals and headmasters to sign an undertaking has evoked protests from the teaching community.
The undertaking states they would be booked for cheating if any information given to the state government pertaining to teachers or students is found false. Teachers and members of the Maharashtra School Principals Association will burn copies of the undertaking on Teachers’ Day.
The Systematic Administrative Reforms for Achieving Learning by Students (SARAL), a mass database programme for students, teachers and schools including a child-tracking system prescribed under the RTE Act, has been developed, and teachers have to feed the data on a daily basis. The SARAL database is expected to reduce overall load on schools to provide information through the year. The government has been warning teachers and principals against providing false information.
On September 1, the state government issued the undertaking to schools to be signed by principals and headmasters.
The undertaking reads: “I am aware that as per a Government resolution dated July 3, 2015, it will mandatory to update SARAL database with the information of school, students, teaching and non-teaching staff etc. This will provide the government details of schools and help in policies. I have and will always ensure that information filled in the database is true and verified. If the information is false or if the number of teaching and non-teaching staff in the database is shown to be more than the actual number, double the amount released by the government towards their salary will be recovered from me as penalty.”
Besides, any student, teaching or non-teaching staff benefiting from wrong information in the database will lead to principals and headmasters being penalised.
The undertaking reads: “I am well aware that if it is proved that wrong information was provided for both SARAL database and approval of posts, then I will be booked under section 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code.”
Prashant Redij, Principal of Hilda Castellina School at Kandivali said, “This is unfair as we are no criminals. What example is the government setting for students who respect us? Threatening us with a cheating case is not acceptable. We will protest strongly.”
Uday Nare, a teacher, said “This is an insult to the teaching community. There may be one or two who may have submitted wrong information. There was no need to make it mandatory for principals to sign an undertaking. We will not sign the undertaking.”
Meanwhile, the teachers also protested against Education Minister Vinod Tawde for saying that “teachers providing false information will be sent to jail”.
“I did not say anything wrong. What are teachers and principals scared of? Only those who give false information or misguide the government and education department will go to jail for cheating, not those who are honest,” said Tawde.