The Rajasthan government’s decision to merge elementary schools with middle and senior secondary school across the state has rendered some 700 cooks in Barmer district jobless, mostly widows and single women, who were earlier appointed to cook mid-day meals for students, officials said on Friday.
District education officials said the future of the cooks, who were managed by the local school committee, was uncertain, as there was no direction from the state education department for their re-employment.
“We have not got any directions in this regard from the education department,” said additional district education officer of Barmer, Dungarmal Khinchi.
“We cannot do anything in the matter unless we get any direction from the government,” he said.
A total of 434 schools have been merged only in Barmer, the official said.
The government had appointment these cooks at government school to cook the food for students under the mid-day meal scheme.
One cook was appointed for 50 students. The cooks, mostly windows and single women, were paid a monthly salary of `1,000 by the school managing committees, said Khinchi.
The state government’s move has raised the question of livelihood of thousands of dependents of the laid off cooks.
“I have a big family to support and don’t know how to make ends meet,” said Jhimon Devi, cook at a government primary school in Harsani, who lost her job following the merger of the school with a secondary school in the area.
“My task was easy, as I didn’t have to travel far from home to work,” said Devi, who is now exploring other job options.