|"Funds shortage can't stand in the way of primary education"|
MADURAI: Interpreting a 1997 Government Order fixing the teacher-student ratio in primary schools at 1:40, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has ruled that the ratio could be applied based on the strength of students in each standard/section and not on the overall school strength.
The Full Bench of Justice P.K. Misra, Justice N. Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice G. Rajasuria said the minimum strength of teachers should not fall below the number of standards/sections.
"In other words, if there were five standards, the minimum number of teachers should be five, out of which one could be the headmaster."
If the students' strength in a particular standard exceeded 60, an additional section was required along with the appointment of a separate teacher. A third teacher would be necessary when the strength reached 100.
"Even after maintaining the aforesaid ratio... if the teachers' strength is required to be increased on the basis of the students' strength in the entire school, the same has to be allowed," the judges said.
Besides, it was clarified that the ratio had to be followed not only in government schools and aided schools, but also in private recognised schools. "This ratio is to be maintained for any school which requires recognition," the Bench said. It would be open to the Government to formulate appropriate norms.
Pondering over the arguments by Advocate General R. Viduthalai that the procedure of appointing teachers on the basis of the entire school strength should not be disturbed in view of financial implications, the judges said: "We do not think the question of financial involvement can at all be an issue in such matters relating to primary schools, particularly when the right of education is now a recognised part of fundamental right.
"The obvious intention is to impart quality education wherever possible and not merely to pay lip service to such sentiments expressed... The contention that there were limited resources or want of finance cannot be a ground to sanction less number of teaching posts to the schools."
The orders were passed on a writ appeal moved by the Director of Elementary Education. The matter was referred to the Full Bench because two different Division Benches of the High Court had taken different views in 2000 and 2006 while interpreting the order.
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Date:07/11/2006 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2006/11/07/stories/2006110703460500.htm