Changing seasons of seasonal teachers

A laborer gets Rs 550 per day while the seasonal teacher is paid Rs 333
Seasonal teachers delivering open air classes in Kashmir.
Seasonal teachers delivering open air classes in Kashmir. Special Arrangement

Every year the school education department engages around 1000 candidates as seasonal teachers for a period of six months only to disengage them for the rest of the six months in a year.

The practice has been going on for more than a decade since the government started establishing seasonal schools for the children of nomadic people who migrate to green pastures during summer months.

Besides no job security in the school education department, the seasonal teachers, also known as Education Volunteers (EVs), are the most exploited lot recruited in the government department. While a non skilled laborer is paid Rs 500 to Rs 550 per day, each seasonal teacher gets Rs 333 per day; their monthly salary is only Rs 10000.

Earlier, the monthly wages of each seasonal teacher were Rs 6000 which is just Rs 200 per day, again an example of exploitation and injustice with this educated lot.

The government has hiked the salary of these seasonal teachers from Rs 6000 to Rs 10000 per month, but these unprivileged people are subjected to mental depression because of being underpaid by the government.

Every year, the Department of School Education and Literacy (DSEL), Government of India raises concern over the educational facilities provided to the children of nomadic people in the seasonal schools set up by the school education department.

Unfortunately, the government has never expressed concern about these underpaid seasonal employees of the department.

Over the years, these dejected seasonal teachers are running from pillar to post for want of a job policy. Since 2006 these education volunteers have been teaching in nomadic areas in hostile climatic conditions. But the government has given deaf ears to their pleas and did not come up with a job security for the lot.

For the last 15 years, these teachers worked on mere Rs 6000 per month despite being exposed to all kinds of insecurities in terms of job policy for these teachers.

The government had earlier promised them of better wages, and a 12 months services, but the assurances were never fulfilled till date. The department had claimed to pay Rs 18000 per month to these seasonal teachers. But after playing delaying tactics the government recently hiked their salary to Rs 10000 per month. The hike was given after passage of more than a decade.

Providing education to the children of nomadic people has always remained a priority of the government of India. In the recently convened Project Approval Board (PAB) meeting, the representatives of J&K’s school education department claimed that access to schooling facilities for the nomadic population has always remained the priority of the J&K UT. It was claimed that the seasonal centres have been provided for the nomadic population during its migration from one place to another in search of green pastures.

As per the official figures, the school education department provided educational facilities to around 32544 nomadic migratory children during 2020-21 through 1521 seasonal centres for which 1748 seasonal Educational Volunteers were selected for the year 2020-21.

In the meeting, the secretary School Education and Literacy (SEL) DSEL GoI sought feedback on education facilities provided to nomadic children but nothing was discussed about the plight of these teachers who are the backbone of this initiative of making seasonal centres a success story of the school education department.

To strengthen the seasonal centers, the GoI has stated that the children of nomadic population in the age group of 6-14 years, who migrate during summer season from one place to another in search of green pastures, need seasonal centers to be established during their migration.

In order to ensure that these children do not remain out of school during migration, the GoI has asked the J&K UT to tag these seasonal centres with the nearest schools in order to keep the nomadic school children in touch with their studies.

The GoI is taking various initiatives for the education of these nomadic children and seasonal centres but there has been no official word regarding the job policy of these seasonal teachers and hike in their monthly wages.

The DSEL, GoI has approved around Rs 22 crore for construction of non-residential hostel facilities for these nomadic school children and has proposed to provide Tablet per child to facilitate them to avail the benefits of the online education.

While the Government of India and the J&K government are jointly trying to strengthen the seasonal centres and the children of nomadic people, the authorities should fulfill its promises to provide a 12 month job to the seasonal teachers and pay handsome salaries to these teachers as well.

These teachers are tirelessly working in extremely tough conditions to provide educational facilities to the children but the government is allegedly giving them a step-motherly treatment by denying a 12 months job and a hike in their salary.

The Government should come up with the guidelines for these seasonal teachers and also pay them a handsome salary with a 12 months job, like other teachers. Leaving them unemployed for six months is total injustice, and this has left most of these teachers in a state of despair.

The seasonal centres will get strengthened only if the teachers are paid well, along with job security. Hope the J&K government will address the grievance of the deprived lot.

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