Officials, parents and students may be rejoicing for the successful implementation of the reading challenge under Mission Chunauti 2018, but teachers are an unhappy lot.
The teachers, who worked tirelessly to ensure that every non-reader child could now read, had their own bunch of grievances.
A number of mentors, who work as guest teachers, claimed that they were employed on a daily wage basis whose salaries were deducted during public holidays.
“These teachers work very hard but they don’t get a fixed monthly salary. They are paid daily wages based on the number of days they work. So, if the government declares a public holiday, they lose a day’s salary,” said H Akhtar, the vice-principal at the Sarvodaya Vidyalaya in Jor Bagh.
Some guest teachers claimed that they dreaded holidays. “Other teachers love taking a day off, especially in the months of October November, for Dussehra, Diwali or Chhath Puja. For us, it is a nightmare. We don’t get paid if it is a government holiday,” explained Pankaj Kumar Pal, a guest teacher at the Sarvodaya Vidyalaya in Jor Bagh.
Apart from the ‘unfair’ salary cuts, the teachers also said that they almost never get their salaries on time. “Salaries are usually delayed, sometimes for months. For people who are not locals and do not live at their family home, managing everyday expenses like rent, food, and groceries then becomes a problem,” asked Jitender Ahlawat, a guest teacher who teaches non-readers in VI-VIII grades.
The Government School Teacher’s Association (GSTA) has criticised the whole concept of guest teachers and have demanded that more teachers be hired on a permanent basis. Earlier this year, the high court while hearing a PIL too had slammed the Delhi government for allegedly failing to fill up to 50% of the total teaching posts in government and municipal schools that were lying vacant.
The PIL filed by NGO Social Jurist alleged that as many as 26,031 teaching positions, including those for special educators for differently abled students, were lying vacant in the state.
Soumya Gupta, director of education, however, claimed that the actual number of vacancies was probably closer to 8,000. “The department does not recruit directly; it is the Delhi Subordinate Services Selection Board (DSSSB) that hires new teachers. These teaching posts have been lying vacant for close to 8-10 years now,” she explained.
A government official also added that guest teachers cannot be easily made permanent. “A Supreme Court judgment has made it difficult to make these guest teachers permanent,” he said citing a 2006 Supreme Court judgment that made arbitrary regularization of temporary and ad hoc employees illegal.