The buildings have been completed, teachers deputed, and principals appointed. But, the Delhi government’s ambitious project of creating a ‘School of Excellence’ has been in a limbo for almost six months. The reason — the Cabinet has to “figure out a way to draft the policy without using the word teacher”, said officials.
According to the AAP government, the Delhi Cabinet was informed by chief secretary M M Kutty that while the schools would require the creation of a new policy, the Cabinet couldn’t use the word ‘teacher’ in their draft. “The elected government was told that teachers, and their employment, fall under the realm of the Services Department, which isn’t with the government but falls under the purview of Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal,” said an AAP source.
Officials explained that since these schools “were of a new category”, a new policy had to be drawn up by the Cabinet. The draft policy, the AAP government maintained, has been ready since April. “Initially, it was delayed by the municipal elections. But since then, it’s just been gathering dust. How can you frame an education policy without writing about teachers. Teachers are essentially service providers. They are not buses, that the transport department can acquire,” said an AAP leader.
In August 2016, the Delhi High Court had upheld the administrative powers of the Lieutenant-Governor in matters of public order, land, police and services, including the power to appoint civil servants, in the capital. The issue of services, in particular, has been a constant issue of sparring between the Delhi government and the L-G.
But this “interpretation” of the HC order, said AAP, was “aimed at maiming the government”. The leader added, “Essentially, this means that the departments which are with the elected government, such as education, has no role then in hiring the teachers. In other words, the department of education will sanction the funds for the payment, but have no role in their appointment. No service issue can be shown to the Cabinet, although it is the Cabinet which will provide the money to pay their wages.”
Earlier this year, the Delhi government had announced that it would launch five English-medium ‘Schools of Excellence’, which would offer state-of-the art facilities to young students. The school strength — which would have 25 students in primary classes (I-VI) and 40 in senior classes (VI-XII) — would be kept “intentionally low” to improve teacher-student ratio and improve education, officials had said.
Further, the schools were planned to have world-class infrastructure, ranging from classrooms with their own small libraries to world-class furniture, said officials, while adding that the five schools will be at Madanpur Khadar, Khichdipur in Patparganj, two in Rohini and one in Dwarka. “The idea was that every part of Delhi should have these schools. But right now the government is not being able to function and at each step there is interference,” claimed a senior AAP leader. In spite of repeated attempts, MM Kutty couldn’t be contacted.