Code of conduct for teachers

The West Bengal Government has made public the draft code of conduct for school teachers. An important restriction that is proposed to be introduced is that not only teachers but also the non-teaching staff of schools shall not give private tuition. Indeed the necessity of private tuition is an admission that the students are not getting adequate teaching from the school. Quite often the students are given subtle hints that to pass in a particular subject they have to take private tuition from the teacher concerned. Otherwise they may not pass the exam in that subject. Private tuition has now become a widely prevalent practice that needs to be curbed. If a student is taught his subject properly in school, there should be no need for him or his parents to hire a teacher to coach a student in a particular subject. The prerequisite of putting this curb is to ensure that the students get all the facility for proper study in the school so that it becomes unnecessary for a student to seek coaching outside the school.
The other important restriction that is proposed to be introduced is the denial of the right of a teacher to approach a court against government institutions and officials on any matter relating to the profession of teaching without first going to the special tribunal that the Government proposes to set up. The right to seek redress in a court of law is a fundamental right of every citizen. It is doubtful if the restriction proposed to be imposed on school teachers will pass judicial scrutiny – tribunal or no tribunal. Once the Government is empowered to have the right to prevent a citizen from seeking redressal of his grievance in a court of law, it may bring unforeseen consequences. Particularly in the situation now prevailing in the educational field of West Bengal where group rivalries between both students and teachers have vitiated the atmosphere, seeking legal redress may become the only way to protect one’s interest, particular where one’s physical safety is threatened.
It has been proposed to make the annual wage increment of a teacher not automatic but contingent on the recommendation of the headmaster. This may create strained relationship between the headmaster and the other teachers, the more so because it has not been made clear under which circumstances a headmaster may refuse to recommend the annual increment to a teacher. The objective of the code of conduct may be commendable but all loopholes in it should be plugged.

Tuesday, 28 November, 2017