7,800 EGS volunteers in Punjab without salary for five months

EGS volunteers were appointed in 2003 to check the dropout rate in schools on a salary of Rs 1,000 per month.

punjab Updated: Jun 06, 2017 15:28 IST
Sarbmeet Singh
Sarbmeet Singh
Hindustan Times, Muktsar
EGS volunteers,Punjab,five months
(HT Representative Image)

Around 7,800 Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) volunteers in the state have been waiting for their salaries for five months and are being forced to take loans to make ends meet.

Davinder Singh, an EGS volunteer, narrating his plight, said, “We are forced to take loans from private institutes at high rates of interest because we have no choice due to inadequate salaries and untimely payment.”

“It is very difficult for us to manage our affairs with such a meagre pay, which is also not paid on time. Sometimes, we are not paid for months at a stretch and this aggravates our ordeal,” says Balkarn, an EGS volunteer.

EGS volunteers were appointed in 2003 to check the drop-out rate in schools on a salary of Rs 1,000 per month. In 2008, the SAD government decided to provide them elementary teacher training at the District Institute of Education and Training and increased their salary to Rs 5,000 per month. They are not paid any additional allowance.

“At present, there are 7,800 volunteers across the state. As many as 540 volunteers are in Muktsar, 450 in Fazilka and 250 in Ferozepur. About 700 teachers have already passed the teacher eligibility test (TET) and are awaiting regular jobs.” says Davinder Singh.

Davinder Rajoria, district education officer (DEO), said “We are unable to pay salaries due to lack of funds. We have written to the higher authorities many a time, but to no avail,” he added.

An EGS volunteer, on the condition of anonymity, said that the EGS teachers, who belong to the Dalit community, work as labourers during holidays to make a living.

Sukhbir Singh, district president of the EGS teachers association, said, “We have called a statelevel protest on June 9 in Patiala as the department is not listening to our problems”.

Pardeep Sabharwal, director general of school education, acknowledged non-payment of salaries and told HT that funds would be released soon.

Some primary schools are still dependent only on EGS volunteers. Khalsa Primary School, Muktsar is a glaring example. “We are 7 EGS volunteers here having to handle 212 students,” says Balwinder Singh, a volunteer, at Khalsa Primary School, Muktsar.

Government Primary School, Sarhali, in Ferozepur, has only two teachers, who are EGS volunteers.

First Published: Jun 06, 2017 15:25 IST