Kerala: Specialist Teachers Under Samagra Shiksha Scheme on Protest for Better Pay
Representational Image. Image Courtesy: Flickr
The 'Specialist Teachers' working under the Samagra Shiksha Kerala (SSK) have been on protest since January 24, seeking a better honorarium. From being paid Rs 29,000 during their appointment in 2016-17 for the part-time jobs in schools, around 1,500 such teachers receive only Rs 10,000 now.
The Samagra Shiksha scheme announced in the 2018-19 Union budget subsumed Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE), leading to turbulence in the scheme.
The Union and state government share 60:40 of the honorarium, but the government of Kerala has been alleging lower allocation of funds from the Union government being the root cause for the problems.
The promise of the state government to increase the honorarium by Rs 2,000/month, convert their appointments to fill time and ensure a favourable place of work have not pacified the protesting teachers.
The minister for school education of the government of Kerala, after holding talks twice, has appealed to the teachers to withdraw their protest. The Specialty Teachers Association (STA) has demanded the restoration of the honorarium paid during their appointment.
Around 2,000 specialist teachers were appointed in government schools in Kerala under the SSA to teach music, drawing, physical education and work experience. These teachers are attached to the Block Resource Centres (BRC) and were initially recruited with an honorarium of Rs 29,000.
The teachers claim that they work full-time in the schools despite being designated as part-time teachers. The STA has also alleged that they are being posted at faraway places, leading to higher spending for transportation.
The teachers claimed their honorarium was reduced to Rs 5,900 in July 2021, which was increased to Rs 14,000 in November 2021, while they are paid only Rs 10,000 from the current academic year, Times of India reported quoting the state president of STA, P Das.
The minister for school education, V Sivankutty, has appealed to the protesting teachers to return to work, but to no avail. The government has promised to increase the honorarium by Rs 2,000/month on its own and to appoint teachers in nearby areas to bring down their travel time and expenses for travel.
"The Union government has reduced its share of the honorarium to Rs 6,000 for three days' work a month. In addition to its share of Rs 4,000, the state government will pay Rs 2,000 from September 2022," a statement from the minister for education said.
The minister also promised to convert the jobs to full-time with matching honorarium and to ensure receiving the required assistance from the union government. But the STA has insisted on continuing the strike.
LESS FUNDING FOR KERALA
The government of Kerala has been receiving lesser funds under the Samgra Shiksha program. For the academic year 2021-22, the Union government sanctioned Rs 791 crore against the demand of Rs 1404 crore.
During 2018-19, the state submitted a project outlay of Rs 1941 crore but was allocated Rs 720 crore in May 2018, second lowest only to Goa. The allocation was reduced, citing the achievements of Kerala in the education department.
In July 2018, the project approval board reduced the budget to Rs 680 crore, almost one-third of the demand. Though the outlay was increased to Rs 729 crore with the central share of Rs 430 crore, only Rs 206 crore, less than 50% of the promised amount, was provided as the Centre's share.
As per the Samagra Shiksha website, the major interventions of the project includes Financial support for Teacher Salary, Universal Access, Infrastructure Development, Retention and Quality.
Most of the parameters set by the Union government through Samagra Shiksha have already been achieved by Kerala due to the concerted efforts to improve public education. But these achievements are cited as reasons for the budget cuts affecting the specialist teachers.
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