The Tamil Nadu government’s decision to deploy more than 3.5 lakh teachers for Assembly election duty is likely to affect the functioning of schools. This is so because the government is mulling the extension of the academic session till June if schools are reopened in January or February.
A senior official from the School Education Department told DT NEXT that due to the pandemic situation the reliance on teachers would be more than in previous elections.
Stating that usually about two lakh teachers will be engaged for election work, he said, “however, for this polls an additional 1.5 lakh teachers will be deployed due to a proposed increase in the number of booths to ensure social distancing.” According to him, teachers will be roped in for various poll-related duties, including as assistant returning officers, block-level officers, and poll booth in-charge. “The poll work will go on for at least one month, right from training till the declaration of results,” he added.
However, academics said lakhs of teachers deputed for poll-related duties would have to abstain from school work and this would affect students, especially in government schools.
The State government is planning to reopen schools in January or February and the academic session could be extended till June to help students cover portions for the board examination.
“Even if the schools are opened in January, the students will be having only a six-month academic session (till June). If the teachers are deployed for poll work, it will affect the school work,” Tamil Nadu Teachers Association President PK Ilamaran pointed out.
Usually, Assembly elections were conducted in May or during the summer holidays as teachers would be available for poll duty, he said adding “the ensuing polls in May would be held in a totally different situation.” Echoing a similar view, S Venkatesan, coordinator of TN Parents-Teachers Welfare Forum, said even if additional teachers were appointed for poll-related works, the State government should ensure that not even a single class is affected.