Sainik School Kazhakootam in dire financial straits

The Sainik School at Kerala’s Kazhakootam, which has produced around 800 defence officials, including gallantry award winners, is today cash strapped.

Early this week, the school staff and ex-staff held a protest against denial of salary, pension and retirement benefits.

The strength of the school includes 605 students, 30 teaching staff, 55 non-teaching staff and 110 pensioners.

According to the source, the salary for December was paid in two instalments and the January salary is yet to be credited.

The financial crisis has surfaced at a time when the school has opened admissions for girls too.

The school, along with 33 other Sainik Schools in the country, is managed by a society registered under the Societies Registration Act (XXI of 1860).

The Kerala government’s role is provisioning and maintenance of infrastructure, running expenditure including educational equipment, land and Grants in Aid for additional infrastructure, development and expansion.

All other expenses which include primarily the establishment cost (salaries, pensions and all retirement benefits) are met from the fees collected. This includes scholarship to be provided by the state government based on income and Central government based on rank of service.

Initially, the funding pattern of 1962 was sufficient for efficient running of the school and the budget was in surplus thus creating a Reserve Fund.

Employees were not entitled to pensions, but things changed with the Supreme Court ruling in 1988 making mandatory pensions and retirement benefits at Government scales to all employees.

It was followed by implementation of various Central Pay Commissions recommendations making the financial situation worse.

A source, on condition of anonymity, said in 2006 a solution to the problem was devised at the Board of Governor’s meet when it was agreed to a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) to be signed between the Centre and State governments.

It was expected that the state governments will take on the payment of pension and retirement benefits of employees.

But it took another 15 years for this MoA to be approved for signing here and even after it was approved the inking of the same is presently caught in files at the State Secretariat.

When this issue was brought before Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan recently, he said, “It was already approved long back and would be done immediately.”

“In simple terms, the problem that the school is facing is that the pensions of the teachers who taught old batches is being paid from the fees collected from the present day students,” said the source.

The concept of a Sainik School was the brainchild of Kerala’s V.K. Krishna Menon and thus in 1962, the Sainik School at Kazhakootam was set up.

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