Teachers Service Commission out of work with vacant leadership positionsThe commission is unable to announce vacancies for at least 12,000 schoolteachers and decide on promotions of over 2,500 teachers in the absence of chair and members.
On December 18 last year, a committee led by then chairperson of the Public Service Commission Umesh Mainali recommended three names to lead the Teachers Service Commission.
The committee had recommended former secretary Madhu Regmi for chair and former joint-secretary Dilli Ram Rimal and Nanda Kumari Maharjan, a former principal of a school, for members of the commission. The positions were vacant since September last year. The recommendations were made through a competitive selection process.
However, the erstwhile KP Sharma Oli government didn’t endorse the recommendations. The committee was formed as per the Teacher’s Service Commission Act, which says the chair of the Public Service Commission leads the recommendation committee and the vice chancellor of Tribhuvan University and the education secretary are its members.
Ideally, the Cabinet should endorse the recommendations of such a committee. But the former government didn’t want to appoint the nominees because they were not close to the then ruling CPN-UML, a former aide to then education minister Krishna Gopal Shrestha claimed. The Ministry of Education even wrote to the Public Service Commission to review the nominations in March but the commission refused saying that the recommendations were made in a transparent manner and in line with the law. “The minister was not happy with the nominations and the Oli government fell before it could fill the positions,” said the former aide.
Officials at the Teachers Service Commission say the commission’s work remains paralysed in the lack of chairperson and members. The commission’s tasks involve conducting teachers’ licensing tests, filling vacant positions at public schools and giving them promotions, among other things.
“We haven’t been able to perform any of these works for a year now,” Sudarshan Marahatta, an information officer at the commission, told the Pos. “Despite our repeated requests, the government didn’t fill the vacant positions.”
He said the commission has not been able to announce vacancies for at least 12,000 schoolteacher positions and decide on the promotions of over 2,500 teachers in the absence of the chair and members at the commission. There are 150,000 permanent teacher positions in over 29,000 public schools across the country.
According to the Economic Survey of 2020-21, there are 7.2 million school students in the country and around 5.3 million go to government-run public schools.
Now the teacher’s associations have started pressuring the new government of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to fill the vacancies so that the commission can function smoothly and clear the backlog of work. In its meeting with the prime minister on Wednesday, a delegation of the Permanent Teachers’ Concern Forum on Wednesday demanded that the vacant positions at the commission be filled within a week and more teachers be appointed at public schools.
“The prime minister said he was positive towards our demands,” said Ramesh Babu Bhattarai, coordinator of the forum. “We will be compelled to take to the streets if the commitments are not fulfilled.”
A study report prepared by a panel led by Mahashram Sharma, a former government secretary, in 2019 had recommended that 57,056 new teacher positions need to be created at public schools for ensuring a smooth teaching-learning process.
Sharma’s report says the basic level (grade 1 -5) has 879 more teachers than needed. However, there is a shortfall of 24,911 teachers for grades 6 to 8 while the secondary level (grades 9 to 10) needs 24,340 more teachers and grade 11 to 12 needs an additional 7,805 teachers.
It also said there are no permanent teacher positions at the primary and lower-secondary levels in 2,554 public schools, while 504 public schools didn’t have permanent posting of teachers at the secondary level, which is upto grade 12.
The report was submitted to then prime minister KP Sharma Oli and he had assured that the recommendations would be implemented. However, the government took no initiative to follow the recommendations. The commission has been announcing vacancies for teachers annually based on the report of the Centre for Education and Human Resource Development.
However, no such announcement was made in the last fiscal year. Marahatta said they will be able to announce new vacancies only after the vacant leadership positions are filled. “We have been told the Cabinet will make the appointments within a few days,” he said.