THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In what could be a relief for teachers in unaided schools in the state, the state government has finally decided to enact a comprehensive legislation to ensure minimum wages for them. The government is all set to bring in a special legislation at the upcoming assembly session next month. There has been a long-standing demand from unaided school teachers to bring in a legislation in this regard. But it got delayed for many years allegedly due to bureaucracy.
“There will be no more delay as the law department has approved the draft bill. The government will pass it in the upcoming session so as to ensure minimum wages for teachers as soon as possible,” A Shahjahan, General Education Secretary. TNIE had earlier reported on the plight of school teachers in unaided schools, including CBSE schools, who are underpaid and on the government’s apathy in this regard. A majority of teachers, even the highly qualified ones, are paid very low salaries. Even though the school managements assured them better pay, it never materialised.
A bill to ensure minimum wages was proposed in 2007 based on a report by a two-member commission. The bill was proposed by the then Education Minister M A Baby to help the school teachers in the unorganised sector. However, nothing moved. Later, when the LDF government came to power in 2016, Labour Minister T P Ramakrishnan and General Education Minister C Raveendranath had decided to pass the bill in the assembly.
But alleged bureaucratic delay from the part of Labour and Law departments had put the proposal on the shelves for the past three years. As per the two-member commission report, the minimum remuneration for headmasters was Rs 7,000; high school teachers, Rs 6,000; primary school teachers, Rs 5,000 and for clerks, Rs 4,000. But most of the unaided schools didn’t comply even with this and were paying below Rs 5,000 to the teachers even in higher secondary schools.
Absence of law in this regard compounded the teachers’ miseries. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in a circular had asked its affiliates to frame salary, allowances, and service conditions of teachers. There was also a 2012 Kerala High Court order that asked the CBSE to enforce as a condition for affiliation, a minimum monthly provisional salary of Rs 10,000 for primary and middle school teachers, Rs 15,000 for secondary school teachers, and Rs 20,000 for senior secondary teachers.