In a clear case of discrimination, Congress-led UPA govt doubled the remuneration of Urdu teachers working on part-time basis in KGBVs, while decreased the remuneration of other subject teachers under the same category. Deeply offended teachers are running from pillar to post for rectification of the discrepancy
Let us begin with a quiz. Two types of teachers teach in a government school under the same category. One group teaches vital subjects like Mathematics, Hindi and Science, while the other group teaches merely a language preferred by handful of students. Which group among them should get higher salary? What, the one which teaches Mathematics, Hindi or Science? No, you are wrong. One more chance. A group of teachers teaches around 100 students in the class, while the other teaches hardly 20. Who should get higher salary? The one which teaches 100 students! Again the answer is wrong. Last chance for correct answer. Who should get more salary—one who teaches for full eight hours or the one who teaches hardly for two hours? The one who teaches for eight hours! Wrong. You have missed the last opportunity too. It seems you look at the things with ‘coloured glasses’.
The logical power that you applied to solve this quiz is not permitted in the country. You will have to change your mindset. This is what the Congress-led UPA Government wanted the nation to think and follow just before getting kicked out of power in May 2014. The immediate victims of the Congress' new formula of dividing the society were the innocent part-time teachers of Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBVs) who teach in around 3,600 schools now under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan across the country. The Ministry of HRD on March 24, 2014 (vide F.No.2-16/2013EE3) through an order sent to Education Secretaries of all the states, reduced the remuneration of part-time teachers by 30% and doubled the remuneration of Urdu teachers who teach hardly 20 students and that too for hardly two hours a day.
The discriminatory step was surely taken by the Congress government to appease Muslim voters in general elections, but the part-time teachers whose salary was decreased are still to get justice. During the last two years, they have approached almost all the authorities including the Union HRD Minister, Chief Ministers and bureaucrats. Everybody shifted the blame on each other, and no step was taken to rectify the discrepancy. The nation celebrates 'Teachers’ Day' on September 5 every year. Are we really honouring the teachers through such irresponsible acts? “Amidst skyrocketing price rise when the governments, both Central and States, frequently revise the minimum wages of workers, the government is reducing our remuneration. Can a teacher shape the new generation as the country expects from him/her in such an insulting and humiliating atmosphere? Nobody seems ready to pay attention to our plight,” said Neelambuj Mishra, a teacher in KGBV Balia, Uttar Pradesh.
Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas
Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya scheme was launched by Central Government in August 2004 for setting up residential schools at upper primary level for girls belonging predominantly to the SC, ST, OBC and minorities in difficult areas. The scheme is being implemented in Educationally Backward Blocks (EBBs) of the country where the female rural literacy is below the national average and gender gap in literacy is above the national average. The scheme provides for a minimum reservation of 75% of the seats for girls belonging to SC, ST, OBC or minority communities and priority for the remaining 25%, is accorded to girls from families below poverty line. The KGBV was merged with the SSA programme as a separate component of that programme during the XIth Five Year Plan since April 1, 2007. The objective of KGBV is to ensure access and quality education to the girls of disadvantaged groups of society by setting up residential schools at upper primary level. There are a total of 3,609 KGBVs in 28 states and UTs as on June 30, 2014.
Started in August 2004, about 3.5 lakh girls from disadvantaged areas study in 3,609 KGBVs (as on June 30, 2014) across the country. There are 746 KGBVs in Uttar Pradesh alone, where about 74,000 girls study. About 3,000 part-time teachers have been working in these schools for years. The government treats them as part-time non-residential teachers, but they actually teach all important subjects full-time from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm. The HRD Ministry on March 24, 2014 increased the remuneration of KGBV staff from 40 to 135%, but the remuneration of the non-Urdu teachers was reduced by 30%. The salary of Urdu teachers was increased from Rs 7,200 to 12,000. But the salary of other teachers in the same group was reduced from Rs 7,200 to Rs 5,000.
Insult of National Language
“National language is pride of any country. It should not be insulted at any cost. The reduction in the remuneration of part-time teachers who teach Hindi and other vital subjects in KGBVs across the country is an act of demeaning the glory of national language. If the students and youth get the message that they will have to face such insult and humiliation after studying the national language, why would they study it? The discrepancy in the salary of these teachers should be rectified forthwith.”
The salary of full-time residential teachers who also teach eight hours per day, was increased from Rs 9,200 to 20,000. “One more fact needs to be understood. From 2004 to 2014, the difference in the salary of teachers was just Rs 2,000. But after March 24, 2014 this difference widened to Rs 15,000,” says Ravikant Mishra who teaches in KGBV Azamgarh and is general secretary of KGBV Employees Welfare Association Uttar Pradesh. Ravi further says, “During the last two years we knocked every door and gave over a dozen representations to the HRD Ministry and the State authorities. But nobody seems serious to our plight. The Central Government says if the state governments want to give more remuneration they should arrange funds from their own resoures, whereas the State Governments say since the Central Govnrment has fixed the remuneration it cannot change it. We are being insulted everyday in this manner. Instead of taking any concrete step, governments are shifting blame on each other.”
Why the discrepancy developed?
Till the year 2014, the Central Government provided its share of funds for the salary of KGBV staff directly to the State Governments and then the State governments used to decide the remuneration of the staff according to their working hours, nature of appointment, qualification, etc. But on March 24, 2014 the Central Government hiked the remuneration of the employees based on the incomplete and baseless inputs.
What do State Governments say?
The State Governments say that since the Central Government has fixed the remuneration of all KGBV employees, they are forced to follow those directions. It is beyond their jurisdiction to make changes in remuneration decided by the Central Government because the Scheme is mainly funded by it.
A group of teachers approached the Allahabad High Court, which stayed the implementation of March 2014 MHRD order and directed the government to pay them full salary as they received before March 2014. But even the court order is being ignored. “Following the court directive the UP Government paid us Rs 7,200 per month for about a year, but now it has again reduced it to Rs 5,000 without citing any reason. The contempt of court case is pending in the High Court but the slow speed of hearing seems to be fading all our hopes,” adds Ravikant Mishra.
When it comes to pay the remuneration of part-time teachers, the Central Government cites funds crunch and says the State Governments should arrange the funds themselves. But in the case of part-time Urdu teachers it does not find any fund crunch to pay even higher remuneration. “From 2004 to 2014 all decisions about the remuneration of KGBV employees were taken by the Central Government. Then why is the responsibility now being shifted to State Governments,” asks Bhanu Singh who teaches in KGBV, Balia.
Some government evaluation committees have also raised objections over the insult being caused to part-time teachers. Second National Evaluation of KGBV Programme November-December 2013 stressed on clear definition of full-time and part-time teachers and uniform terms and conditions of service for teachers and staff. The report also said that standardised remunerations should be uniform across states and underpayment must not be permitted. It is because some states like UP, Maharashtra, Assam, Bihar, etc, interpret full-time teachers as those who are residential and part-time as those who are non-residential.
Evaluation Study on KGBVs by Niti Ayog in its report submitted in June 2015 said, “About 77% teachers are not satisfied with the amount of salary they are receiving. There is big difference between the remuneration of permanent and temporary teachers. On an average a permanent teacher gets a monthly salary of Rs. 19,162 to 26,382, whereas the temporary/contractual teachers get Rs. 5,624 to Rs. 10,584.” The Ayog also suggested to explore the scope for separate and independent management for KGBVs at national level to look into the implementation and monitoring of the scheme as variations have been reported in implementation in or within the states resulting in deviations from the scheme objectives.
There are repeated demands to extend social security cover to all employees in organised and unorganised sectors. But forget the social security cover, the teachers working in a government institution are deprived of even respectable amount as remuneration. About two dozen MPs have written to Union HRD Ministry and the Chief Ministers of different states drawing attention to the plight of these teachers. But there is no positive action till now from any quarter. In her reply to a letter from present BJP president and Lok Sabha MP Keshav Prasad Maurya on November 14, 2014, the then Union Minister Smriti Irani said, “I have got the matter investigated. The State Governments have been advised that if they want to give more remuneration to the part-time teachers, they need to arrange the resources at their own level. I request you to kindly take up this matter to the concerned State Government also.” It is the same stand adopted by the MHRD since the time of Congress regime.
Lok Sabha MP from Balia, Bharat Singh, wrote to present HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar on July 20, 2016 requesting him to rectify the discrepancy. However, he is yet to get response from the government. The agitating teachers have left no stone unturned to put up their demands. But there is no positive result. The slow speed of hearing in the Allahabad High Court over their case also disappoints them as more than two years have passed and still there is no hope when the issue will be resolved. It is time for the country to honestly introspect on this 'Teachers’ Day' whether we are really doing justice to our teachers! n