The eleventh Pay Revision Commission has said the practice of private managements collecting money from those appointed in aided schools and colleges as "akin to dowry".
"Like dowry, demanding money for appointment in aided schools and colleges is considered evil by everyone and still the practice is allowed to continue," said K V Mohandas, the chairman of the three-member 11th Pay Revision Commission (PRC).
The PRC report said that such unaccounted transactions of black money should not be tolerated in public interest. "There has to be an insistence on merit as the salaries are fully paid by the government from the public exchequer," the report, which was handed over to the Chief Minister on September 2, said.
Merit alone has to be the sole criterion for appointment in aided institutions where the government bears all salary expenses. The PRC gives two options to bring about recruitment reform. One, entrust the recruitment to the Public Service Commission. If it is not possible, the PRC recommends the creation of a statutory Kerala Recruitment Board for Private Schools and Colleges.
Even while making the recommendation, the PRC is also aware of the practical issues involved. "The managers however need money for the development of infrastructure and for the maintenance of the institutions, and it would be unfair to expect them to bring in new investment from their own resources. Parent Teacher Associations, the public at large and even charitable organisations may be unwilling to fund privately owned educational institutions for obvious reasons," the report notes.
The report has no concrete solution on how the management could mobilise funds without squeezing new appointees dry. It hopes a perceptional change can happen if the public was made aware of the real ownership of such institutions. "The perceptions have to change, considering that it is public money that is spent as salaries which sustains these institutions. The role of the manager must also change from that of an owner to that of a Trustee who does not seek or take any financial returns from the institution. After all, most of the institutions established by religious or social organisations have been set up using the money of the public," the report says.
The PRC knows such a change will take time. It has, therefore, recommended an interim revamping of the system of recruitment to posts in private schools and colleges for which the salaries are paid by the government.
According to the PRC, here are four ways to go about the revamp. One, the vacancy should be advertised in brief in all the Kerala editions of the two Malayalam newspapers with the highest circulation, with details on the websites of the management and the institutions, the Department of General Education/ Collegiate Education/ Technical Education as the case may be and the University concerned.
Two, the Government and the University should decide who their nominees would be in the selection committee for college teachers. Like it is happening now, it should not be left to the managements to choose their favourites from among Government Secretaries and District Collectors.
Three, the interviews must be audio- video recorded and the recording must be retained for future verification. Four, the rank list must be finalised by the selection committee immediately after the interviews are over. It must be published on the notice board and on the websites and the Government nominee shall leave the place of interview only after it is done.