Unhappy over the Nitish Kumar government’s apathy towards the non-payment of salaries since March this year, hundreds of school teachers’ associations in Bihar are questioning the state government’s commitment towards the education sector.
Bihar Madhyamik Sikshak Sangh (BMSS) president Kedarnath Pandey said it is a matter of concern that school teachers including permanent and contractual, have not been paid their salaries for three months. “The school teachers were forced to celebrate Eid without salary, just like last year when they had to celebrate other festivals without their salaries. It is a pathetic situation for the school teachers that they are not getting their salaries on time,” Pandey, who is a Member of the Legislative Council, told NewsClick.
BMSS General Secretary and former MP from Communist Party of India, Satrughan Prasad Singh said, “Despite repeated claims made by the state government, failure to pay the salaries to school teachers on time has exposed how sensitive the government is to the education sector and the teachers.”
Pandey and Singh, both influential leaders among school teachers said that in the last week of May, the education department had issued a directive to all concerned district officers to ensure payment of full salaries till May to school teachers from all categories. The department had made it clear to them that if the teachers are not paid, action would be taken against them. However, except one or two districts, most teachers have not been paid so far.
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More than permanent school teachers, over 3.5 lakh contractual school teachers in Bihar, locally known as ‘Niyojit Shikshak’, are in trouble due to non payment of their salaries. “It is difficult to maintain our family due to lack of money. The government should pay salaries to us on time but only announcements are made and assurances were given, nothing concrete is being done,” Satyender Kumar, a contractual school teacher in Patna told NewsClick.
Gajender Sharma, another contractual school teacher in Arwal district said that hundreds of school teachers used NOT A in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls in the state to protest against the regular delay in the payment of their salaries.
As Singh pointed out, in April and May, during the seven phased Lok Sabha polls, Bihar Rajyapatrit Shikshak Mahasangh, TET Teachers’ Association, Bihar State Primary School Teachers’ Association and other teachers’ association had threatened to boycott polls and use NOT A if salaries were not paid to teachers.
However, education minister Krishnandan Verma has said that he will look into it as instructions were issued to pay salaries on time to the school teachers.
But the fact is that there is nothing new in the latest delay of payment of salaries to school teachers in Bihar.
Last year, contractual teachers celebrated Diwali without any festivity as they had not been paid their monthly salaries for nearly six months. Even during Chhath, which is the most popular festival of the state and is celebrated six days after Diwali, the teachers were forced to manage without their salaries.
For contractual teachers, it is the only source of livelihood for them. Expressing concern over the government’s apathy, Naushad Alam, a contractual teacher said, “Majority of the contractual teachers are coming from poor socio-economic background and do not have any other source of income. They are forced to face several difficulties due to the non-payment of salaries despite having a job.”
Contractual teachers are already upset with the Supreme Court’s decision in favour of the state government last month. Setting aside the Patna High Court judgement, the Supreme Court refused to regularise jobs of about 3.5 lakh contractual teachers in Bihar on May 10.
More than two weeks after the result of Lok Sabha polls, the government still seems to be least concerned to clear the pending salaries of the school teachers.
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