Ignore the teacher’s broken Kannada, job is his livelihood, Kerala education officials told students
Kasaragod: Suhiri S, a youth from Thiruvananthapuram district, has only Kannada language. But that didn’t stop the general education department from appointing him as a physics teacher in the Kannada division of the Government Higher Secondary School in Adhur, a village on the border of Kasaragod and Karnataka.
He has to teach Physics, Chemistry and Biology to Kannada medium students of classes 8, 9 and 10.
Expressing her full confidence, Suhiri told the in-charge headmistress Saraswati that she would gradually learn the language. The staff room erupted in laughter. Instead of “ghatta ghatta” for step by step Suhiri said “ganda ganda”, meaning husband in Kannada.
The teacher can laugh at Suhiri’s mistake. But for the students of the Kannada division of the high school, Suhiri spells doom for their future. Sanusha CH, a class 10 student, said, “We lost two years to Covid and now we have found a teacher who can’t even speak Kannada.”
He uses a broken mix of Kannada, Malayalam and English in his class. “We stopped attending his class. The government is ruining our future,” he said.
But the government recruitment agency Kerala Public Service Commission (PSC) is regularly hiring non-Kannada speakers as teachers for Kannada medium schools in Kasaragod district. The PSC, the state government and the general education department have been ignoring the protests of students and parents.
In late August, the department tried to post another native of Thiruvananthapuram, Shijir S (36), as a physics teacher in the Kannada division of the Government Higher Secondary School at Angadimogar in Puthige panchayat. Flaming residents and parents prevented her from being physically involved. CPM leader and Puthige panchayat president Subbana Alva had said that people will not allow ineligible persons to join as teachers and spoil the future of children. “The school will hire a Kannada-knowing teacher on contract,” he had said.
Shijir had to return and approach the Kerala Administrative Tribunal.
Suhiri also came with a favorable order from the Kerala Administrative Tribunal. Kasaragod Deputy Director of Education (DDE), KV Pushpa said, “We cannot do anything, but when PSC gives (appointment) advisories to candidates without knowledge of Kannada and courts uphold such appointments, we order the appointment.” District.
Take the case of Suhiri itself. Despite not knowing Kannada, PSC gave him an advisory memorandum in December 2018 to teach in a Kannada medium school. In January 2019, the DDE appointed him as a physics teacher at the Government Higher Secondary School in Pavlik, another Bhai Panchayat of Kasaragod.
But the parents and students strongly opposed this and were forced to go on leave without pay for six months.
He then moved the Kerala Administrative Tribunal, which in February 2020 asked him to pursue a 10-month diploma course to master Kannada at the Central Institute of Indian Languages in Mysore.
But he joined the institute only on January 10 this year and reported back to the DDE’s office after six months on August 1.
The DDE said it appointed him to the Adhur school as there was a vacancy for a physics teacher and he had to comply with the tribunal’s order.
Suhiri joined the school on 2 August and the students were stunned. Unaisa Sabi, a Class IX student, says, “He cannot write Kannada. He draws letters on the board.” “Don’t get me wrong. We like him. He talks about his life, his marriage in class but he can’t teach,” she said.
The students staged a sit-in at the DDE office demanding change of teachers. Unaisa said, “DDE said it will find a solution in a week. But it has been almost two months now. Now we have been asked to teach Kannada to the teacher and adjust with what we have got.”
But unlike Pyvlik and Puthige, the PTA at Ahoor School denies that there is a problem. “The issue has been resolved. He has learned Kannada and the government has appointed him,” PTA president Mohammad Hanifa said.
The students boycotting the teacher said that they took up the matter with the DDE on Wednesday. “But he humiliated us and threatened that action would be taken against us if he left the class and came to his office,” Sanusha said.
In early September, the government appointed a non-Kannada speaker to teach social science in the Kannada division of the Government Higher Secondary School in Udama. Parents and students protested.
At least six Kannada medium schools in Kasaragod district have unqualified teachers, and Kannada students are fighting a losing battle against the system. “The education officials said that we should accommodate the teacher as the job is his livelihood. Then what about us! We all failed the Onam exam,” Sanusha said.