The Delhi High Court sought the city government's stand on Tuesday on a petition seeking directions to fill up the vacant posts of teachers, principals and vice-principals in its schools.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma issued a notice on the petition, which also emphasised that while some teachers of Delhi government schools are proposed to be sent to Finland for training, the schools are "in shambles and in a dilapidated state", and a special investigation team (SIT) should be formed to monitor and enquire into the issues related to school infrastructure in the city.
The bench, also comprising Justice Subramonium Prasad, asked the Delhi government to ensure that there are teachers in schools and directed it to submit its reply on the petition filed by four government school teachers in six weeks.
The city government's counsel opposed the petition and said there are no such vacancies as alleged by the petitioners and teachers are working in the Delhi government schools.
The petitioners said the government schools are facing an "acute shortage of manpower" as 796 of the 950 sanctioned posts of principals and 565 of the 1,670 posts of vice-principals are vacant.
It also said in spite of the shortage of teachers, the Delhi government is "deploying teachers as mentor teachers outside their teaching arena" and sending them on trips to countries such as Finland, the United Kingdom and Singapore, "for learning to use digital technologies and visit local schools to understand the pedagogies used by them, without any criteria for their selection".
The plea said the government's "Mentor Teacher Programme and Teacher Development Coordinator are nothing but an eyewash" and are used to extend "undue benefits to its favourites" by sending them on foreign trips on taxpayers' money.
"Respondent with authority has claimed that their proposed actions/decision, wherein teachers of Delhi government schools are going to Finland for training, will contribute to improve Delhi's education system. It is submitted that the same is completely based on favouritism as no established criterion has been set out for the selection of deserving candidates," the petition stated.
"The respondent no.1 (Delhi government) proposes to spend about Rs 75 lakh per teacher per annum for sending them on foreign trips to upgrade their skills. These trained teachers (mentor teachers and teacher development coordinators) are acting as party workers to promote and propagate the political agenda of the Aam Aadmi Party in schools and on social media," it added.
The plea further asserted that there are "many dissimilarities" in the education systems in India and Finland and "rather than organising fancy international training programmes", the government should focus on the welfare of the students.
It stated that there are photos to show the "squalid and unhygienic condition of Delhi government schools", which is completely contrary to the government's claims of having brought a revolution in the education sector.
"The government schools in New Delhi suffer from the worst pupil-teacher ratio in the country. The government schools are in shambles and in a dilapidated state with broken benches thrown outside, drinking water coolers in a blemished condition and poor infrastructure with respect to the premises," the plea stated.
Besides directions for filling up the vacancies, the petitioners have prayed for directions to provide the three basic streams of science, arts and commerce to students in Classes 11 and 12.
It has also sought directions for comprehensive guidelines to be issued by the city government in support of its decision to send teachers to foreign countries for training programmes.
The matter would be heard next on July 10.
- With PTI Input