A petition in the Delhi High Court proposed extending the current working hours of teachers to seven-and-a-half hours. The current working hours in Delhi government and local authority schools stand in violation of the Right to Education Act’s provisions.
A circular by the Directorate of Education (DoE) dated May 20, 2014 was challenged by the petitioner, civil society organisation Justice for All. It lays down the working hours in Delhi government and government-aided schools at six-and-a-half hours for single-shift schools and six hours for double-shift schools for teachers.
The matter was taken in notice by a bench of Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Kameshwar Rao. Responses were sought from the civic bodies, the Delhi government’s education secretary and the Government Schools Teachers’ Association.
According to point number four of the schedule, under sections 19 and 25 of the RTE Act on “norms and standards for a school”, teachers should work for a minimum of 45 hours per week, including preparation time (seven-and-a-half hours per day for a working week of six days).
The DoE had issued a circular on January 24, 2014, 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.
A fresh order was issued in the next three days. The order highlighted teachers’ demand for adequate infrastructural facilities such as extra staff rooms and furniture. Only after these are put in place, the extended working hours should be enforced.
When a fresh order was issued in May 2014, the petitioner pointed 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”.
The aim was defeated as the fresh order had increased the 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 next hearing is scheduled for January 30, 2019.