Ad-hoc & SSA teachers face a raw deal

Education is one Department that no minister would fancy because of the legacy of woes that have to be dealt with. Firstly, Meghalaya is the only state where teachers are grouped into several categories, ranging from those working in government-run institutions and who are therefore paid their salaries regularly, followed by the Deficit Schools which are partly autonomous but whose teachers are paid by government and the ad-hoc school teachers who get a fixed salary and lastly the teachers employed under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). The Ad-hoc and SSA teachers get a fixed amount – a paltry sum but that too is not paid regularly thereby putting the teachers in dire straits especially in these times when inflations has hit the roof. There are over 12,541 teachers working in the SSA schools across the state. The number of students receiving education under them can well be imagined. While the central government has initiated the SSA to provide better access to students especially in rural areas, the teachers are not treated with the respect they deserve. More often than not teachers have had to come out to the streets to demand regular payment of salaries. How can they be expected to carry out their mission with a passion?
Of late the teachers under the banner of Federation of All School Teachers of Meghalaya (FASTOM) have been demanding that the Government should merge the 5814 lower primary school teachers and the 6727 upper primary teachers and to take them away from the State Implementation Society and bring them under the State Education Department as per the provision of RTE Act 2009 and SSA-RTE norms. FASTOM threatened to file a petition in the Meghalaya High Court if the government fails to do so. Meanwhile in March this year the Government released Rs 60 crore to pay two months salaries for ad-hoc teachers out of the six months pending salaries. The Central Government is expected to release Rs 68 crore, which will help in clearing the four months salary of SSA teachers.
The salary structure leaves much to be desired. At present a lower primary school teacher is paid Rs 12,000 per month, upper primary level Rs 16,000, secondary level Rs 20,000 and higher secondary teachers Rs 24,000 without any additional allowances. There are over 7,090 teachers in 860 ad hoc schools including lower primary, upper primary, secondary and higher secondary level. FASTOM had proposed that if government cannot upgrade the ad-hoc teachers to the Deficit system then the teachers should at least be given increment of 5% every year and enhancement by Rs 18,000 into each and every category. The Government has not responded to this proposal. These teachers received their last increment in 2016. The Education Minister has also ruled out any possibility of paying ad-hoc teachers what government teachers are paid as the financial involvement would be Rs 251 crore annually. At the present the annual salary bill of ad-hoc school teachers amounts to Rs 181 crore approximately. It is time the Government has a long term plan to deal with teachers’ just demands.

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