New Delhi: Thousands of primary and secondary teachers of government-aided schools across the Uttar Pradesh are up in arms against the Adityanath-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government’s move to enforce the National Pension System (NPS) and monitoring of teachers through Prerna App, which entails clicking three selfies a day and upload these.
On Thursday afternoon, a massive rally named 'Shikshak Samman Bachao Maha Rally' was organised at Eco Garden in Lucknow on a call given by UP Secondary Teachers’ Union. Teachers from primary schools, junior high schools and degree colleges also and participated in the rally. Among other things, the teachers are demanding the old pension scheme that has guaranteed returns.
Ajay Kumar Yadav, a teacher in a primary school in Barhaj, Deoria, who travelled 300 km to along with a hundred other teachers, told NewsClick over phones: "The NPS is completely against our interests. We want it to be scrapped and the old pension scheme to be re-introduced. There is no guarantee of benefits under the NPS as the contract has been given to private agencies, and we do not trust any private agency."
Satypal Jaswal, another primary teacher, said: "There are several drawbacks in the new pension scheme, such as we will receive only 60% of salary after retirement, and if a person dies after retirement, his widow will not get any pension".
Jaswal cited two such cases. "Recently two cases came to my knowledge where they died after retirement and when the widows applied for pension, they were refused. Under the old pension scheme, people used to get 50% of the last salary withdrawn and whatever was in the general provident fund account. Under the NPS, we will get 60% salary and the rest 40% is based on the interest of the private company, which is not safe and secure", he added.
Apart from NPS, the teachers are also opposing the new online App named Prerna
WHAT IS PRERNA APP?
Apart from NPS, the teachers are also opposing the new mobile phone App, named Prerna and the Prerna Web portal, which was launched by Chief Minister Adityanath on September 4 on the occasion of Teachers' Day and is being practiced across government schools in the state.
The basic education department has made Prerna mandatory to ensure teachers’ attendance in school.
The teachers are required to click three selfies a day. First, during morning assembly with school staff, the second with all the students when the mid-day meal is served, and third selfie with the principal when the school is about to get over. All these photos need to be sent in real-time so that officials from the block education officer level to the basic shiksha adhikari (BSAs) can monitor the attendance of teachers and students.
“The state government does not trust teachers. Ironically, this comes at a time when aided teachers are devoid of any group policy schemes, medical benefits, equal pay on par with their counterparts in government schools and are made to work on low wages. There are no facilities, such as benches, drinking water for students, etc. The government is not interested in development of primary schools and instead wants to torture us through this App. If government wants us to use the Prerna App, we should be relieved from other activities, such as booth-level officer duty, government surveys, duty on pulse polio immunisation etc, said Jaswal.
Commenting on the Prerna App, another primary school teacher, Mahesh Mishra, said: "The app-based attendance system is a clear violation of the right to privacy. Female teachers and students’ photograph can be leaked and misused. Teachers have been directed to take selfies thrice a day, which is not possible in remote areas due to technical snags."
There are additional problems, too. “There is no guideline in the App on what to do if someone gets late. Another problem is we have to click the selfie before school starts, which is not possible in rural areas due to so many reasons," Mishra added.