On October 3, the Punjab government approved regularistion of 8,886 teachers who had been recruited under central education programmes, Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Rashtriya Madhyamik Siksha Abhiyan (RMSA). However, this decision came with a catch—the teachers whose services were to be regularised would be paid a meager sum of Rs 15,300 per month. The teacher had been working on a salary of Rs 42,700 per month for several years, before this scheme was announced.
In the notification issued by the State Director General School Education (DGSE), teachers were given the options to either continue with the contractual arrangement or be regularised after a probation period of three years. They were given the deadline of October 23 to confirm their decisions. “Only the staffs that opt for regularisation within this period will have their services regularised in the department, and others will miss the opportunity to be regularised,” the notification stated.
The contractual teachers have not been receiving their salaries for past five months on the pretext of regularisation of their services. The teachers launched state-wide protests against the decision taken by the Cabinet to decrease their salary to almost one-third of what they were receiving earlier. Some teachers sat on a fast unto death since October 6, in Patiala. However, five teachers’ union leaders, who were fasting, had been suspended by the education ministry. Teachers have also been protesting by returning awards of excellence and letters of commendation given to them by the Punjab government.
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Education Minister of Punjab, OP Soni’s decision to suspend and transfer protesting teachers did not help the situation. There have also been disagreements among the Congress leadership in the state, as Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh did not like the way the education minister, and Education Secretary Krishan Kumar were handling the situation.
The protesting teachers were recently given assurance in a meeting with CM’s Chief Principal Secretary Suresh Kumar and Officer-on-Special-Duty Sandeep Sandhu. They were also told that the suspension of some of the teachers participating in the stir will also be revoked, and the chief minister will meet them on November 5. They have vowed to continue with their protests in CM’s home town Patiala until their demands are met.
In the month of August and September, SSA teachers in Jammu and Kashmir had also been protesting with the demand of being recognised as ‘government employees’ with revised salaries as per the 7th Pay Commission. After a hunger strike that lasted for 25 days, their demands were finally met by J&K Governor Satya Pal Singh.
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In Arunachal Pradesh, the SSA teachers working as contractual workers formed an All Arunachal Samagra Shikshan Abhiyan (AASSA), demanding regularisation of jobs based on seniority. They have been protesting for a long time, without their demands being heard by the government.
The teachers’ unions in Punjab, led by Sanjha Adhyapak Morcha, have said that they will continue their protest until their demands are met and their original pay scales are reinstated.
Suggested Tags: Teachers’ Protest, Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, SSA, RMSA, Punjab