RAIPUR: The Collector of Sarguja in north Chhattisgarh has taken on the role of a teacher amid a statewide strike by teachers on contract (shiksha karmis).
As many as 54,000 schools in the state have reportedly been affected after nearly 1.80 lakh teachers went on strike on Monday. The state government on Thursday issued an ultimatum to the shiksha karmis, asking them to resume work in three days or face action.
Collector Kiran Kaushal, a 2009-batch IAS officer, visits government schools in Sarguja for two to three hours every day, enquiring about the alternative arrangements made while the shiksha karmis stay away from work. She even teaches the students whenever possible.
“After knowing about the situation in the schools, I give instructions on various tasks to the regular teachers and staff. Principals, teachers and students from various colleges, and some from private schools, have been roped in. I myself take some classes to encourage the teachers and motivate students,” Kaushal said.
She is concerned about two schemes — Lakshya for higher secondary students and Disha for lower classes — being implemented in the district. “The focus of these schemes is on quality education and pursuing one’s ambitions in life. The students shouldn’t suffer owing to the strike,” she said.
Irked by the teachers’ protest, which has disrupted the academic sessions of schools, the state has issued an order saying that the services of shiksha karmis who fail to resume work within the given deadline will be terminated. The government claims that the agitating teachers are making an “undue demand” and are unwilling to resolve their issues amicably.
However, the teachers are adamant on their demands. “We will continue protests till the demands are considered. We will not get deterred or compromise,” said Virendra Dubey, coordinator of Shikshak Panchayat Nagriya Nikay Morcha, a forum representing the teachers on strike.
They have sought equal pay for equal work, implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations for them, change in nature of their job from contract work to government service, and jobs on compassionate grounds.