Lucknow: In the latest poll strategy in election-bound Uttar Pradesh (UP), the Yogi Adityanath government hiked the honorarium of 27,546 part-time instructors and 3,78,000 cooks in the basic education department by Rs 2,000 and Rs 5,00 respectively on Wednesday.
The Basic Shiksha Parishad will also provide money to the cooks to purchase two sarees and aprons and a health insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh under the Ayushman Bharat Yojana or the UP Mukhyamantri Jan Arogya Yojana.
During a function in the state capital, the chief minister (CM) said that the developments in basic education and other departments in the last four-and-a-half had changed the public perception of the state government.
“What we achieved today is not because of an individual but the result of the collective efforts of people. Before 2017, schools of the basic education department were on the verge of closure. But now, the government has started a special ‘School Chalo’ campaign which has resulted in the enrolment of 54 lakh students in the last four-and-a-half years. Teachers, instructors and cooks have contributed a lot to increasing the enrolment of new students,” Adityanath said.
Claiming that schools have become the symbol of people’s faith, Adityanath said, “Operation Kayakalp has been a great experiment in Uttar Pradesh under which MPs, MLAs and other party leaders were asked to adopt one school each. Out of the 1,56,000 schools in the state, 1,30,000 have found a new lease of life with better infrastructure.”
When the state government “realised that 75% of girls and about 40% of boys attended school barefoot, it was decided to provide each student with two sets of uniforms, bags, books, shoes, socks and sweaters free of cost. Currently, 1.82 crore children are being provided these things,” the CM added.
Veena Gupta, president, UP Anganwadi Karmchari Union, who had organised a series of protests in the state for their demands, told Newsclick that the government has “not done a favour to the cooks” by increasing Rs 500.
“The announcement was made as the Assembly election is round the corner. Moreover, increasing the honorarium and providing aprons and sarees were our secondary demands. Yogi did not commit or utter a single word on our key demands for which we have been fighting for many years,” Gupta added.
Highlighting the key demands, Gupta said, “Under the Palya system of hiring, a woman can be hired by a school only if her child is enrolled there. How is it possible? Only a few women will get jobs under this system. We have been demanding scrapping of this system since the beginning but Yogi Adityanath was silent on our demand. He should understand that most of the cooks are widows and belong to vulnerable sections.”
Second, the cooks are “hired temporarily with their employment extended every year depending on their performance”, Gupta said adding that “meanwhile, the gram panchayats exploit them, treat them like bonded labourers. They also have no option but to follow the village head’s order. Otherwise, they will be jobless”.
The union and other mid-day meal workers, including the instructors and the cooks, said that they won’t receive the honorarium on time despite the announcement. The employees haven’t received the honorarium for five months despite the state government’s promise to release it on Diwali.
“Seven months’ salary was pending till Diwali. The government released the salary for two months after we protested. We never receive our honorarium on time. Isn’t it inhuman that after working tirelessly, we don’t get what we deserve? This government never understands our plight and pain,” a cook told Newsclick.