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Putting own policy in abeyance, KVS transfers 1,500 teachers mid-session

Grappling with over 12,000 teacher vacancies, the Kendriya Vidyalayas may now have another problem at hand. The Centre’s latest attempt to ‘redistribute and rationalise’ teacher postings amid the high vacancy backlog has landed the issue in courts and tribunals which have stayed the sudden transfer orders.

Within a span of a week this month, the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) suspended the annual 2022-23 transfer process, put a crucial clause of its 2021 transfer policy in abeyance and ordered 1,500-plus ‘administrative transfers’ of teachers for the purpose of ‘redistribution and rationalisation’.

The teacher transfers have come mid-session, around the time of the half-yearly and pre-board exams, and involve significant geographical displacement for teachers.

KVS termed the transfer decision as a ‘routine administrative process’ for the smooth functioning of all KV schools. “These transfers are part of a routine administrative process undertaken to ensure every child gets proper instruction for post-pandemic learning recovery and smooth functioning of KVS schools across the country,” KVS said in response to ET’s queries.

At the centre of the issue, appears to be the 12,000-plus vacancies in KVs across the country which seem to have prompted the mid-session firefighting by KVS. From 5,562 teacher vacancies in 2019, the figure rose to 8,055 in 2020, 10,452 in 2021 and touched 12,044 by June 2022, as per figures shared by the education ministry in the Lok Sabha recently. The highest vacancies were in Tamil Nadu at 1,162 followed by 1,066 in Madhya Pradesh, 1006 in Karnataka and over 700 each in West Bengal, Odisha and Maharashtra. The transfers mostly involve teachers posted in North India being shifted to the above areas.

They have also come after KVS put Para 6 of the 2021 transfer policy in abeyance on September 12. Para 6 had prescribed a detailed ‘displacement count’ of an employee — factors to be considered for a transfer that involves displacement. Factors such as single parent, widowed status, years to retirement, spouse posting, age and disability were to be considered before a displacement transfer. The fact that bulk of the transfers involve women teachers, several close to retirement and many who are widowed or single parents has also caused considerable unrest among the KV teaching community.

Affected KV teachers from across the country have challenged the transfer orders as violative of Para 6 and several DOPT rules. In several cases, various benches of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) agreed on the need for ‘protection’ for the teacher involved and have stayed the transfers until the next hearing.

Meanwhile, the All India KV Teachers Association has decided to move court against the KVS for administrative transfer orders issued on Sept 12, Sept 13 and September 16, 2022.

“It is alright to transfer. We are not opposing transfers per se but these have been effected in a haphazard way, arbitrarily and without following the usual practice of seeking applications with preferred choice of stations and so on. Since the bulk of the transfers involve women and large distances — teachers from Patiala being transferred to Bhadrak in Odisha or Thakkolam in Tamil Nadu, it has come as a shock to the affected families as they were completely unprepared for it. It is also violative of KVS’ own policy and DoPT directions,” AIKVTA general secretary MB Agarwal told ET.

Apart from ‘vital academic interests’ involved since half yearly and pre board exams are around the corner, the mid-session transfers also reflect on KVS’ poor planning and vacancy management, Agarwal said.

“Every month, Vidyalayas send updated vacancies in positions. Hence, the KVS HQ is very well aware of the vacancy position. Hence, transfers in the middle of academic year happened in KVS due to lack of proper planning by the administration. That even widows and aged lady teachers are transferred in the name of administrative transfers without giving a chance to apply as per the annual transfer policy, is really shameful,” the AIKVTA in a representation to KVS and the education ministry.

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