Lucknow: On January 15, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Uttar Pradesh under Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has decided to disengage all casual and contractual employees working under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) once their contract period is over. Employees under contract in the state say that the move could lead to the closure of the SSA with the decision not only taking away the source of livelihood of about 1.53 lakh families but also rendering an equal number of people jobless.
The Uttar Pradesh Education Department issued notices to the assistant director of education and district basic education officers that the government had decided that those who were engaged on a contractual basis were to be paid their entitlement as per the terms and conditions of engagement till the contract period ended. It added however, that their contracts would not be renewed. The order was issued by Vijay Kiran Anand, U.P. state project director, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. It said that if their contract period had ended then the entitlements and facilities to be paid to them would be as per the pay scale of outsourced employees.
“The employment of contract workers of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, working on direct contractual basis in districts/circles will be no longer renewed from now onwards. These employees will now be hired through outsourcing. Though the contract of these employees is not being terminated immediately, but whenever their contract ends, the new employee will be hired through outsourcing. If an employee is posted/deputed – once their contract for five years is over – he/she will be returned to their parent department,” the order read.
While ruling out fresh engagement of contracts in the near future, the order further said there would not be an automatic renewal of contracts for those who have been engaged directly by the government offices.
Describing the decision as “unfortunate” and “inhuman”, Tribhuvan Singh, vice-president of the Uttar Pradesh Prathamik Siksha Mitra Sangh (UPPSMS), an association of para-teachers said: “The majority of contractual employees working under the SSA in the state have been serving for five to ten years at a consolidated monthly pay of between Rs 8,000 and Rs 10,000, which is lesser than the minimum wage for highly skilled people,” Singh told NewsClick, adding that the decision to not renew their contract was taken so that they could not demand regularisation of their jobs.
“Around one lakh twenty seven thousand Shiksha Mitras were promoted to the post of assistant teacher from being contractual employees during the Akhilesh Yadav regime. When the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government came to power they termed it unconstitutional and said that the government will restart the stalled process of recruiting teachers. When the matter reached the Allahabad High Court, it ruled in favour of the government and quashed the appointment of assistant teachers who had not taken the Teacher Eligibility Test (TET). When we approached the Supreme Court, the apex court upheld the Allahabad HC’s order but made a change which said that the applicants would be given another chance to appear for the recruitment exam. The court also told the government to regularise Shiksha Mitras in two fresh stages of recruitment, but the government tweaked it by bringing another test called the Super TET so that they could disqualify most of us,” alleged Singh.
The basic eligibility criteria that candidates need to qualify, in every state, is the TET. However, after qualifying the TET in UP, one has to clear the Super TET, which is not mentioned in the Right to Education Act, 2009. The contractual Shiksha Mitras, or para teachers, have questioned why the UP government had such rules in place when there were no guidelines for Super TET anywhere else in the country.
The government’s decision not only shattered the dreams of more than 1,50,000 Shiksha Mitras in the state, but has also resulted in many of them dying by suicide. “I have it on paper that after the Supreme Court judgment, over 20,000 contractual Shiksha Mitras committed suicide in the state. How can a person get by if he was getting Rs 40,000 and is suddenly being given Rs 10,000. There are so many liabilities like family, daily expenses and children’s fees. How will we manage all this in such a small amount,” asked the vice president of union.
Earlier, the former CM Akhilesh Yadav’s ambitious 181 Women’s Helpline program was shut down by the present dispensation despite the rising cases of violence against women in the state.
“We had filed a petition last month and the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court had taken cognisance of it and sought a response from the both the state and the Centre within a month,” Dinkar Kapoor, president of UP Workers’ Front, who had filed the petition for the 181 employees, told NewsClick