KOCHI: Santhi is a pre-primary teacher at an aided school. However, her salary is nowhere near the one paid to those teaching at government schools. While a teacher with a government pre-primary draws a salary of `19,000, the amount that a teacher at an aided school gets varies from `1,000 to `4,500. Santhi finds this disparity a gross injustice. Even the ayahs at these schools are a deprived lot.
According to All Kerala Pre-primary Teachers and Helpers Organisation secretary Vijaya Shoma, the government is yet to recognise the pre-primary sections in aided schools as part of the institutions. “Because of this, no pay scale exists for pre-primary teachers in aided schools. This is a huge injustice,” she said.
Shoma said when the division fall began to affect schools, both government and aided, the authorities decided to begin pre-primary sections. “The government even gave funds to carry out mid-day meal schemes at these schools,” she said.
Hence, it becomes very evident that the government is well aware of the existence of these pre-primary sections, she said.
“The pre-primary sections that came into being before 2012 have been recognised by the government and they are provided with funds for the mid-day meal scheme. But the unlucky ones are those that were set up after 2012. Teachers at these schools have to share funds allotted for the primary section in order to feed students,” she said.
The teachers are ruing their plight.
“Many of us don’t even get the honorarium that we used to receive earlier. The paltry amount that ranges from Rs 1,000 to Rs 4,000 nowhere covers our expenses. The plight of the ayahs or helpers is even worse. In many schools, there are no ayahs at all. The teachers have to do that job too,” she said.
According to Shoma, these pre-primary teachers who have qualifications at par with those who have been appointed through PSC are worthy of and eligible to draw the salary stipulated by the government.
“But alas, nobody hears our plea. We had time and again petitioned the government. We even went before the commission that was formed to study the problems faced by the pre-primary section. But all have come to nought,” she said.
According to the teachers, when they filed an RTI query seeking the report filed by the commission, they were told it is not ready. “The entire thing is confusing. The commission was to file the report in June last year. But they filed it only in February this year. When we tried to gain access to the report via RTI, we were told it was yet to be filed. So, we approached the Education Minister, who said the report has been filed but can’t be published since the government has to study it in detail,” she said.
Training is also becoming a problem for them. “Recently, the SCERT had issued a circular that a textbook published by them has be taught at pre-primary classes in government schools.
They had even organised a training camp for the teachers at these schools. But now they have issued another circular saying the book has to be used by pre-primary sections in aided schools too.
We don’t know anything about the book nor have been given any training. The entire thing is a big jolt for us. Hence, we want the government to organise a training camp for us too. We don’t want to be kept in the dark,” she said.
Shoma and her colleagues are at a loss as to whom they should turn to, and are planning to go on a strike after May 20. Meanwhile, repeated attempts to contact the authorities concerned didn’t bear fruit.
- Recognise pre-primary as a part of aided and government schools
- Instead of an honorarium, the government should give salaries as per the scale decided by it
- Take steps to stop termination of teachers and ensure job security
- Start a pre-primary training course at all government teachers’ training centres
- Publish the report of the commission set up to study the problems faced by the pre-primary section