Teachers in single-shift government schools teach for six-and-a-half hours

Stating that the current working hours of teachers in Delhi government and local authority schools are in violation of the provisions of the Right to Education Act, a petition in the Delhi High Court called for extending it to seven-and-a-half hours.

The petitioner, civil society organisation Justice for All, challenged a May 20, 2014, circular by the Directorate of Education (DoE) laying down the working hours of teachers in government and government-aided schools in Delhi at six-and-a-half hours for single-shift schools and six hours for double-shift schools.

A bench of Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Kameshwar Rao took cognizance of the matter and sought responses from the respondents — the civic bodies, the Delhi government’s education secretary and the Government Schools Teachers’ Association. The next hearing is on January 30.

According to point number four of the schedule, under sections 19 and 25 of the RTE Act on “norms and standards for a school”, the minimum working for teachers should be 45 hours per week, including preparation time — seven-and-a-half hours per day for a working week of six days.

On January 24, 2014, the DoE had issued a circular increasing the hours from 7.15 am to 2.45 pm for single-shift schools and 6.45 am to 2.15 pm, and 11.00 am to 6.30 pm for double-shift schools (summer timings). Three days later, a fresh order was issued, keeping the earlier order on hold till the next academic year. It cited representations from teachers stating that infrastructural facilities such as extra staff rooms and furniture needed to be put in place before enforcing the extended working hours.

A fresh order was issued in May 2014, increasing work hours of teachers from six hours to six-and-a-half hours in single-shift schools and from five-and-a-half hours to six hours in double-shift schools. The petitioner stated that the work hours, as laid down by the May 2014 order, “defeat the aim” of the RTE Act “to provide equitable quality education… as well as minimum working hours for teachers”.

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