As many as 22,000 guest teachers, who had been teaching in various government schools across Delhi, are facing uncertainty as their contracts ended on February 28, and they have not by notified by the government on whether their contracts will be renewed.
More than 5,000 teachers started protesting outside Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia’s residence, as they had been promised regularisation by the Aam Aadmi Party government. On Tuesday, March 5, around 10 guest teachers tonsured their heads in protest, and threatened to commit suicide if their demand of regularisation is not met.
Talking to Newsclick, Jai Kumar, a guest teacher, said his entire family depended on his income. He said he did not know how he would pay the school fees for his children if his contract was not renewed by the government. He said if the situation did not improve and the demands of the guest teachers were not met, he would not be able to support his family of six and may be forced to commit suicide.
Shabana Khan, who was a guest teacher in a government school in Daryaganj, told Newsclick, “I had to go through a lot of difficulties to complete my education. Even then, I had to struggle to get this job. By then, the government had already said the services of the contractual teachers would be regularised. That gave me hope, but now, after my contract was terminated on February 28, I don’t know how to earn my livelihood.”
Sisodia, who is also the Education Minister of Delhi, has put the blame on Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal. He claimed that a Bill to make all guest teachers permanent was passed in the Delhi Assembly in 2017 but was still pending the Lt. Governor’s approval.
The Government School Teachers’ Association, which has been leading the protest demonstrations in front of Sisodia’s residence, wrote a letter to the Lt. Governor, highlighting the issues being faced by the guest teachers. They said the guest teaching posts were created during the tenure of the Congress-led Delhi government, which failed to recruit permanent teachers in schools, and there was a shortage of 30,000 teachers.
The guest teachers were hired to restore the student teacher ratio in schools, and the government being satisfied with them, failed to recruit permanent teachers. The incumbent Congress government then promised to regularise the guest teachers’ services before the 2015 Delhi Legislative Assembly Elections, which gave the teachers hope.
However, even after the Bill for the regularisation of guest teachers was passed in the Delhi Assembly, no step was taken by the government to implement it. After working for years as guest teachers at a much lower salary than permanent teachers, most of these teachers are now not eligible for permanent recruitment due to age barriers.
With the guest teachers on protest, government schools are struggling to deal with the loss in their teaching and administrative capacity. At present, annual examination are going on across schools, and teachers are needed for invigilation and paper checking. More than 18 lakh students are currently studying in the government schools across the city.
As the guest teachers intensified their protest, Sisodia was forced to write a letter to the Lt. Governor on March 5, raising concerns about the situation. He brought to Lt. governor’s notice that the 22,000 guest teachers who were on the streets now constitute 38% of all teachers currently posted in Delhi government schools.
He mentioned in the letter that the Haryana Government passed a Bill in its Assembly to avail the services of the guest teachers till they attain the age of superannuation, and a similar Bill was passed by the Delhi Assembly in 2017, which is still awaiting the Lt. Governor’s consent.
“I have requested the Hon’ble Chief Minister to convene an emergency Cabinet meeting tomorrow (Thursday) to consider and approve a policy to avail uninterrupted services of guest and contract teachers. As Education Minister of Delhi, in the interest of lakhs of children and thousands of guest teachers, I urge you to rise above narrow politics and do justice to students and teachers,” the letter read.