In J&K, sports teachers are paid just one-sixth of a peon’s salary
National and international level sports medallists hired as full-time instructors in government schools of Jammu and Kashmir under the Rehab-e-Khel scheme earn only ₹3,000 a month; sports department sends representation to govt that is now reviewing their caseUpdated: Jul 01, 2020 11:46 IST
When Rouf Ahmed, 31, a national-level canoeist, got posted at the Government High School in Hazibal last year, it was for the first time in 60 years that the school in a remote area of Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir got a sports instructor.
Until then, students of the school were deprived of any sporting guidance. The students’ gain, however, did not translate into an equally rewarding experience for Ahmed, at least monetarily.
Paid a meagre ₹3,000 a month, the 31-year-old, who had been recruited by the J&K youth services and sports department, spends ₹100 a day on commute as the school is 28km from his home and he has to take a shared cab to reach there. This leaves him with just ₹400 by the end of the month, and that too, because the school is closed on Sunday.
PASSION, HOPE KEEP THEM GOING
Ahmed says that the starting salary of peons, chowkidars and groundsmen in the UT’s sports department is ₹18,000 a month, six times higher than what he earns.
“But it’s the passion for sports and a hope that we will get the full-scale pay someday that keeps us going,” says Ahmed, who had represented J&K in the kayaking and canoeing nationals in 2013 and 2014.
Like Ahmed, there are sportspersons who have won medals at the national and international levels and are providing their services for the meagre amount.
Among them is Riyaz Ahmad Dar, 37, who has a doctorate in physical education.
SPORTS DEPT APPOINTED 2,764 YOUNGSTERS
He was one of the 2,764 youngsters who were appointed by the J&K sports department on the vacant posts under the Rehbar-e-Khel scheme in January 2019 with a minimum qualification of bachelors in physical education.
“A person, to make up the deficiency of the physical education staff at the middle and high school level, will be designated as Rehbar-e-Khel,” reads the notification of 2017 for the appointment.
Dr Saleem Ur Rehman, the director general of the J&K youth services and sports department, says the government is aware and reviewing their case.
“We agree that sports instructors appointed under the Rehab-E-Khel scheme are underpaid. ₹3,000 is nothing. The department has already made a representation regarding their low salaries and the government is reviewing their case.”
WOMEN PLAYERS CHIP IN, TOO
“Paying ₹100 a day to a national-level player is nothing less than a joke,” says Sayima Rashid, 28, who has represented the J&K women’s cricket team at the national level 13 times and is the junior selector for the state women’s team (U-19 and U-23). She is posted at Government Senior School, Srinagar.
Abida Akhtar, 28, an international medallist in wushu, who is posted at a remote village in Bandipora district, says, “Our job starts at 10am and goes on till 4pm, like all other teachers. We are producing good results and have introduced sports in schools which students were deprived of earlier,” said Akhtar, who holds a postgraduate degree.
LONG PROBATION, SHORT ON INCENTIVE
The probation period for sports instructors under the Rehbar-e-Khel scheme is seven years, while in other UTs and states, it is one or two years.
For the first two years of the probation, the instructors get a fixed monthly salary of ₹3,000, followed by ₹4,000 for the next five years. They are regularised and paid a full scale salary of ₹40,000 only if a post falls vacant.
Before 2017, physical training instructors in the state were appointed at a starting salary of ₹40,000. In Haryana and Punjab, the starting salary is ₹35,000, while in most parts of the country. the salary in government schools is over ₹30,000.
“In J&K, there is limited scope of jobs for youngsters pursuing sports as a career. So, they are dependent on government jobs,” says Manzoor Ahmad Bhat, a national-level martial arts player with an MPhil in physical education.
Bhat is posted at the Government High School in Nillow village of Kulgam.
“Initially, we were told that the authorities will review guidelines of the Rehbar-e-Khel scheme. We were appointed when there was President’s rule, but now J&K is a Union Territory, so we are hoping the Centre will look into our case sympathetically,” says national-level martial arts player Shaukat Khan, who is the president of the All J&K Rehbar-e-Khel Teachers Forum. Khan is posted at the Government Middle School at Kanifpora in Baramulla district.