Schools turn godowns, teachers double up as onion sellers in MP district

To stop onions from rotting, the Madhya Pradesh government has asked civil supply department to procure the vegetable from farmer markets and transport it to Jan Shiksha Kendras where teachers will sell them to NGOs involved in the midday meal scheme.

india Updated: Jun 20, 2017 14:06 IST
Shruti Tomar
Shruti Tomar
Hindustan Times, Bhopal
Farmers protest,Vegetable,Fair price
Farmers throw onions on the road during their protest in Shajapur of Madhya Pradesh.(PTI File Photo)

A section of government teachers in Madhya Pradesh’s Rajgarh district are up in arms after being ordered to sell onions to stop the vegetable from rotting in a year where a supply glut has sent prices plummeting.

District panchayat chief executive officer Praveen Singh asked the district civil supply department to procure the onions from farmer markets and transport it to Jan Shiksha Kendras – teacher-run centres to monitor school education and attendance -- so that NGOs involved in the midday meal scheme could get onions at subsidised rates.

“The process will help the farmers in selling the onion easily. The measure is being taken to ensure the onion procured by the government is distributed among NGOs so that onion doesn’t rot,” the letter stated.

Read | Burden of farming outweighs rewards: Is India staring at another Nandigram moment?

Madhya Pradesh is gripped by an acute agricultural crisis that has seen 14 farmers commit suicide in two weeks, reeling from falling prices and a demonetisation-induced cash crunch. Hundreds of farmers have blocked highways, torched vehicles and even attacked government officials to demand a loan waiver and higher crop prices. The government says the latest move is aimed at mitigating the distress.

Main produce of each state suffered as prices crashed

But teachers say the move will take up all their time and they will be forced to take time off from concentrating on teaching and monitoring of schools. The academic session began on Monday.

Jan Sikhsha Kendra is set up to enhance the education level of the schools by monitoring it. From proper attendance of teachers and students to holding classes, jan shikshaks have to keep a watch on the same.

“When will the injustice to teachers stop? Teachers in MP are in very poor condition,” said state teachers’ association general secretary Ashutosh Pandey.

Other teachers said the government often praised private schools for better results but overlooked the fact that state staff was overburdened with non-teaching work.

“For district administrators and bureaucrats, teachers are most competent persons and they can do anything from shoe-keeping to onion selling but they should maintain the dignity of word ‘teacher’ as well,” said a teacher, on the condition of anonymity.

But the district CEO said the selling of onions to NGOs won’t disturb the working of teachers. “Farmers are worried about their onion as well as for cultivating new crop. As of now, we have just stored onion at Jan Shiksha Kendras. Once we decide the rate, the onions will be sold to NGOs.”

Recently, teachers in Singrauli district of MP were made to serve food in mass wedding. After the controversy erupted, minister of state of school education Deepak Joshi had assured that teachers will not be deputed work other than teaching and census.

First Published: Jun 19, 2017 13:49 IST