Guest teachers claim being made to sign Covid undertaking, govt says no such order issued
Several guest teachers employed on contractual basis in government schools alleged that they have been asked to sign an undertaking by the principals declaring that they would not claim compensation or monetary help in case they are infected with Covid-19 while on duty. Officials in the Delhi government, however, said that no such order has been issued to schools.
Around 20,000 guest teachers, employed in Delhi government schools on a contractual basis, found themselves out of jobs after their contracts lapsed in May. Delhi education minister Manish Sisodia had, on July 2, announced that these teachers must be engaged in the online teaching taking place in all government schools amid the Covid-19 pandemic. On July 13, the Delhi of Education (DoE) issued an order to all its schools stating, “Heads of Schools (HoS) are advised to engage willing guest teachers wherever required for the online teaching-learning activities.”
Earlier this week, many of them were called back to work. However, the schools have asked them to sign an undertaking stating, “I know that on account of the spread of the Covid-19 contagion, my health may be at risk. I will not claim any compensation or monetary benefits in case of infection during the normal discharge of my duties towards the school and students.”
DoE director Binay Bhushan said that the education department has not issued any order asking schools to make the teachers sign such an undertaking. “The government has given compensation to only those who were infected with or died of the coronavirus disease while on duty. We will look into the matter and issue notices to the schools who are doing this,” he said.
Education minister Manish Sisodia, when asked about the matter, said, “The government has not issued any such order.”
A senior official in his office echoed his statement and said, “No such direction has been issued to the HoSs. The education department will take action against any HoS who does this.”
Several guest teachers on Saturday said that they were asked to sign a similar undertaking. “This is the first time we have been asked to sign such a threatening undertaking while joining work. It’s absolutely unnecessary,” a teacher working at Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya in Mangolpuri said.
Head of the School (HoS) Seema Puri said that the undertaking was a way to ensure that the guest teachers were “willing” to work amid the pandemic. “The government has been giving monetary help to teachers infected with Covid-19 on duty. There is no such provision for the guest teachers. So, we are making sure that they do not claim any such compensation in future,” she said.
Another guest teacher at Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya (SBV) in Noor Nagar said that he and his colleagues were made to sign a similar undertaking. When contacted, HoS Nazakat Ali said, “The schools have decided to take an undertaking to ensure that they do not later say that they were asked to join work forcefully amid the pandemic.”
Praveen Tobaria, the president of the All India Guest Teachers’ Association, said that the department should remove the word “willing” from its order. “There is no much confusion over this word ‘willing’ in the order. Schools are interpreting it according to their convenience. All the guest teachers are willing to join duty. Such an undertaking clearly show that the schools are trying to discourage them from joining,” he said.