What remains is the injustice done to SSA teachers. Unless that is addressed, celebrations are all useless
5th September is celebrated as Teachers’ Day and like every year, this year also, the day is gone
But ‘paradoxically’ teachers here have been suffering for want of due salary. Their job profile is so fragile and their position has been weakened with time. The poor teaching fraternity started hunger strike in Srinagar two day ahead of Teachers’ Day. They have been demanding their wages which government is not yet in a position to decide over on this crucial issue. Jammu and Kashmir Teachers’ Forum lead by EJAC Leader, Abdul Qayoom Wani is spearheading the protest program. Let us have a look on this grave issue.
“Commenting on a portion of sky being cloudy and another portion clear, a teacher lamented that the cloudy portion was under SSA…..” This kind of chatting tells us two things. One that how the so- called universal elementary educational scheme SSA has impressed the psyche of our teachers, second that how ‘infamous’ stature, the scheme has earned on the ground.
I remember my conversation with a chief education officer way back in 2003 when the scheme was in launching phase, “ Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, should be translated as Tehreek-e Taleem-e Aaam” He told me, with high expectations then in his mind. More than fifteen years past now, perhaps with thousands of buildings erected, metric tonnes of food (Mid Day Meals) consumed and above all as is evident from the street protests and precessions of ‘teachers’ , tens of thousands ‘recruited’ under the scheme but all the three targets put a big question mark on the goal, wheather reached, traced or detracted !
The buildings stand signatory witnesses to the fact that they look more edifices than the educational institutions with regard to their standard and selections of locations. As for the erstwhile Mid Day Meals (MDM) Scheme is concerned, philosophically, it can be called a ‘policy misnomer’ in Kashmir because this component of SSA was a total mismatch in the state by and large. It was supposed and needed to be localized at the time of the inception of the scheme (SSA) but they let it go as the saying goes Hukmi Haakim Margi Mufajaat . Observations have been revealing that Students mostly disliked and avoided to eat the food prepared at schools under MDM because they had better food to enjoy and eat at their homes. This component could have been, under localization, utilized in some fruitful way for the benefit of the students in real sense.
The buildings are lifeless, the food stands willingly or unwillingly digested, hence there is neither a pain nor an uproar on these two fronts but the third front is of teachers, they are living beings-humans, recruited under the scheme, the official data says some 45000. Now as the cat is out of the bag, that the recruitment policy of this lot of teachers is in shambles as state government had been relying on MHRD for their salaries so far and now when MHRD altogether stopped its funds to the state, the crisis emerged and for several months now these teachers have been starving (with only interim months of salary released from time to time and keeping the stone of basic issue very much there in the bowl) for salary and have desperately hit the streets.
Since the crisis is acute as well as chronic and it has to be treated at both levels. If there is a fault in the recruitment policy of these teachers, the punishment should not be given to a teacher. It is perhaps the recruiters who are to be taken to task for cognizance and not the recruitees. These 45000 teachers or whatever the figure are not any useless lot of people instead they are running schools, teaching lakhs of our students, putting them (teachers) into psychological trauma every now and then for want of their earned salary amounts to play with our future(children). Classification and leveling of these teachers as per their qualifications and recruiting norms can be a welcome step but disowning the lot on the whole is no wisdom. They are not the casual laborers of social forestry or any soil erosion, they are, willingly or unwillingly called nation builders, associated with the making of our future scholars.
State authorities should summon the courage and absorb them in state sector and own them as state sector teachers lest they remain “SSA-Apartheid teachers” by virtue of the treatment they meet. That will be the real celebration of a teachers’ day.