The state government on Wednesday rejected the demand of fixed-pay teachers for salary at par with their regular counterparts as untenable and said it was not in a position to bear the huge financial load that would accrue from paying higher wages.
The fixed-pay teachers are holding protests across the state demanding 'equal pay for equal work'. Education minister PK Shahi told reporters here that the fixed-pay teachers had been appointed through panchayati raj institutions under separate recruitment regulations and right from the outset they were made aware of the service conditions which exempted them from any examination or selection procedure.
"Now, after recruitment, if they are demanding prescribed pay-scale, I am sorry to say they are not justified," Shahi said, admitting that the government had to face a lot of criticism over the incompetence of a section of these teachers who lacked even basic knowledge.
However, the government was sensitive to their demands and would try to improve their service conditions further by bringing respectability to their salary, Shahi added. About a week ago, education department principal secretary Amarjeet Sinha had also told HT that the government was sensitive to the demands of the fixed-pay teachers.
On Wednesday, the minister and the principal secretary talked to reporters about a whole range of issues confronting the education sector and new initiatives planned by the government.
Shahi said as per a rough calculation, the government would need to spend more than Rs 11,000 crore on school teachers' salary only. "We have to recruit another 1.30 lakh primary and secondary teachers in January and then another 92,000 for high secondary schools. This will take the total financial burden close to Rs 15,000 crore. Then, there is higher education, which entails an expenditure of around Rs 45,000 crore," he added.
The minister said the state was already spending more than 25% of the plan size on education - the highest in the country - and stretching it further would mean stopping all other welfare activities. "But yes, we did increase their (fixed-pay teachers') salary earlier and we will do it again, as per the resources available," he added. Asked if he could throw light on the quantum of likely increase in the salary, Shahi said it was under consideration and a final call could be taken only after the approval of the finance department. "I want to appeal to teachers to understand the situation and have faith in the government, which will do the best for them in the prevailing financial situation," he added.
The principal secretary said the process for ensuring monthly salary payment to teachers - a genuine demand - through banks was in an advanced stage and would be implemented from January. "Banks have been allotted districts and more than 50% of the teachers have submitted personal details for opening accounts," he added.