92 aided schools under a cloud

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: At least 92 aided schools across the state are suspected to have uploaded fake unique identification number of students to either retain the number of teacher posts they already have or increase the posts on the basis of student strength.Based on tip-offs about the tweaking of unique identification (UID) data, the general education department on Friday suspended 25 teachers of Kattachalkuzhi SN upper primary school under Balaramapuram educational sub-district here.

Though the school authorities had claimed student strength of 839, a detailed verification of the UID details furnished by the school to education department proved that a major chunk of them belonged to those aged above 17. Officials could find only 131 schools at the visit during their visit.

The department had completed staff fixation based on the UID data of students, undertaken for the first time this academic year, by July 15. Sources said the department noticed the inflated figures of student strength in some aided schools when some school managers tried to cross-check with officials if they could also add unique identification of outsiders to maintain the required student strength.

“Preliminary reports show that at least 92 aided schools in the state have uploaded fake UIDs on the department website to mislead officials about the actual number of students. We have sought the services of the State IT Mission to cross-check the veracity of UID data furnished,” general education secretary A Shajahan said.

He said the department had instructed school headmistresses to upload the students’ UID details and the task was completed by the headmistress and other teachers. “The misinformation on UIDs amount to a criminal offence of cheating. The government will take exemplary action against all those involved.”

However, there is no provision to take action against school managers as the responsibility of furnishing the details now rests on the headmistress and teachers.

According to Kerala education rules, the number of students in each class can vary from 1 to 50. The government had set the minimum strength of students at 25 in view of the fall in enrolment of students, and recently brought it further down to 15. However, the government has clarified that no government or aided school would be closed down even if there is only one student.

Statistics with the state health department show a dip in childbirths in the state every year. The general education department data put the number of school students at 39.5 lakh in 2010-’11. The number came down to 35.5 lakh in 2014-’15, when the number was estimated as per the UID details.