Representational Image. Image Courtesy: The Indian Express

Nearly 40,000 Teachers Absent from Schools, Deputed on COVID Duties in Delhi, Claims Petition

A petition made through Social Jurist, an organisation working to fulfil the Right to Education (RTE) objectives, in the Delhi High Court claimed that 39,900 teachers are absent from schools and have been deputed on Covid Management duties attached to different sub-divisional magistrates’ offices. The petition moved through leading RTE activist, and Senior Advocate Ashok Agarwal held that over 70% of the 57,000 teachers (39,900) in the Directorate of Education(DoE) are not available in schools because they had been deployed with the Divisional Commissioner since April 2020 in Disaster Management. They have not since been relieved to go back to schools to impart education to the students. A similar situation is also prevailing in Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) run schools, where there are around 8 lakh students in primary classes (up to class V).

The communication between the Directorate of Education and Divisional Commissioner, Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), suggests there is hardly any consent to relieve the teachers from their assigned duties. Udit Prakash Rai, Director (Education), in his letter to Divisional Commissioner (DDMA), wrote,” The CBSE first term Examination for class 10th and 12th is also likely to take place in the month of November. As such, services of teachers for class IX to XII is crucial at this juncture for preparing our students for mid-term and pre-board & board examination…many teachers of relevant classes are still working with the District Administration on COVID duty which is affecting the academic activity and board preparation of our students. This may adversely impact results and future of our students.”

Teachers confirmed to NewsClick that they are still awaiting orders to be relieved from their duties despite their request.

A teacher employed with the Delhi Government told NewsClick that the teachers were primarily trained for teaching work and not handling administrative functions like census, crowd management, etc. The work under COVID management has severely affected the education of students. He said,” It’s almost two years when we saw the schools. First, we were engaged in facilitating the migrants’ workers who left the city. Now, some are attached with the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) office. The point remains we were not trained for it. We have been given challan books to fine people failing to follow COVID protocols. Dussehra is near, and we will be given the duty to manage the crowd. It should be police’s work.”

When asked if it affected studies, the teacher said,” of course, it has affected studies. The teachers teach online and attend every class, but they are overburdened, affecting their efficiency. A teacher who was supposed to take three classes now takes six classes. How will he teach with such pressure.” The teacher emphasised that the district administration is reluctant to relieve the teachers because they are well versed with the work. Bringing new staff to work would stall work entirely for few days.

A mentor teacher who requested anonymity said that the teachers’ priorities had changed if they were engaged in some other work. Some teachers are frustrated and return to classes because they are attached to their students. “Online classes are happening but they are not enough. Many students simply do not have mobiles to attend the classes. As a mentor teacher, I ask other teachers to connect with students to gauge their problems and stress effectively but the medium itself is a hindrance. SDMs are reluctant to relieve the teachers because they are conservative in approach and fear the third wave.”

Ajay Veer Yadav, President of, Delhi Government Teachers’ Association said that thousands of teachers are attached to eight different districts offices in various capacities adding that the government should have acknowledged the issue itself. “It’s a shame that the Delhi government now needs public interest litigation to know the plight of students and teachers alike. They have reduced us to mere job workers who can perform any task on command. Our social reputation of being teachers have simply vanished.”

First published by Newsclick.