After many delays, the Karnataka Education Department has finally given the green signal for the transfer of primary and secondary government school teachers despite protests. Primary and Secondary Education Minister Suresh Kumar on Wednesday said that 4,260 school teachers will be transferred starting Thursday. Suresh Kumar also said that the government will modify the Karnataka State Civil Services (Regulation of Transfer of Teachers) Amendment Act 2018 in order to address the issues raised by teachers across the state.
“There are so many schools in remote areas that need good teachers and these transfers must happen. But many teachers are unhappy with the amendments brought in 2018 and we will work towards making changes in this law to accommodate the demands of the teachers. We will amend the law next year,” the Minister said.
The 2018 amendment makes transfers mandatory for government school teachers who have completed 10 years of service. The areas have been divided into Zone A, Zone B and Zone C. Schools in cities, district headquarters and upwardly mobile areas fall under Zone A. The rest fall under Zone B and C, with remote areas falling under Zone C. The act states that teachers who have served for over 10 years in Zone A schools will be transferred to Zone B and C schools while teachers in Zones B and C will be transferred to Zone A schools.
Why are teachers protesting against the 2018 amendment?
Sharada is a 42-year-old government school teacher in Mysuru and has taught in the same school for 10 years. She is up for a transfer to another school soon, and many like her are opposed to these transfers.
“See, I am not opposed to transfers at all. What I am opposed to is the fact that only certain teachers are identified and forced to shift while many others are free to stay back in their posts,” Sharada says. She is referring to the 2018 amendment, which states that those teachers whose spouses are also government employees can obtain permission to not get transferred.
“If the teacher’s husband or wife is also working as a government employee in the same place, then they won’t get transferred but I am being forced to leave my family and children because my husband works in the private sector. If transfers happen, they must be done fairly for everyone. It was not like this in the 2007 Act. Our only demand is to make this transfer process fair,” Sharada says.
Several teachers like Sharada met with Minister Suresh Kumar on Wednesday and requested him to consider their demands. A meeting was held with officials of the Education Department, after which the announcement to amend the 2018 Act was made.
Currently, over 4,000 primary school and 1,234 secondary school teachers have been identified for transfers starting Thursday. Of these, 713 from primary schools and 345 from secondary schools have been exempted from compulsory transfer as there are no vacancies in the subjects they teach.
In addition, 3,166 primary and 611 secondary school teachers are eligible for mutual transfers. This year, 6,067 teachers have been transferred prior to Wednesday’s announcement.
Is the 2018 Amendment problematic?
According to Madegowda, Director in-charge of primary school teacher transfers, the state government had brought in compulsory transfers in 2017 by formulating rules to the Karnataka State Civil Services (Regulation of Transfer of Teachers Act 2007).
“This was done to ensure that schools in remote areas have good teachers to improve the quality of education and to also ensure that vacancies are filled. But amendments were made to the 2007 Act in 2018 and this has resulted in teachers being unhappy over the transfers,” Madegowda said.
Karnataka has 2,26,517 government school teachers in both primary and secondary schools. Of these, 22,150 posts in primary schools and 3,453 posts in secondary schools are currently vacant. This means that 11.07% of the posts are vacant, with most vacancies being in Zone C areas or remote areas.
According to data obtained from the Primary and Secondary Education Department, Belagavi district has the highest number of vacancies with 2,980 vacancies in primary and secondary schools. This is followed by Vijayapura with 2,033 vacancies and Yadgir with 1,954 vacancies.
“We have begun the process of hiring guest teachers for vacant posts and the transfers will also help in filling up vacancies as it is easier to hire teachers for Zone A schools as opposed to Zone B or C schools. If the government bring in changes to the 2018 law, then the transfers will become easier. Currently, we are getting a lot of complaints that the rules are discriminatory,” an official with the Primary and Secondary Education Department said.