KOCHI: In a state where an unskilled migrant worker can easily earn more than Rs 10,000 a month, a group of teachers, who sometimes travel kilometres to the remote tribal and coastal areas to teach, only get Rs 3,000. A meagre salary is just one among the many concerns of the employees at the single-teacher schools in Kerala. Though there are several government schemes for the welfare of the 5,286 students in 321 multi-grade learning centres (MGLC) in the state, little attention has been paid to the needs and demands of the 363 staff working in the centres.
In 2001, the teachers earned an honorarium of Rs 1,000 a month. At present, their salary is Rs 3,000. They receive an additional Rs 500 as hill tract allowance. Recently, the Chief Minister announced that the government has decided to hike their honorarium by Rs 2,000. However, the National Education Policy (NEP) wing in the Education Department confirmed that no order regarding this has been issued yet.
Meanwhile, their Onam bonus has been slashed to Rs 1,000 from Rs 2,200.
Most of these schools are situated in the remote tribal areas. There are no roads or proper means of transport to get to these places. Sometimes, one must walk kilometres to reach the schools.
“The teachers’ association had filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission following which the government had sought our recommendation regarding their honorarium. They requested for a minimum pay of Rs 10,000 to which we have no objections,” said the DPI’s office. The DPI’s office also confirmed that no order regarding a hike in the honorarium was received.
“Our job does not include just teaching them. We have to convince each and every parent to send their child to school. The schools that we are talking about are not concrete buildings. In many places they are just a temporary shed surrounded by wild elephants in some areas.
“Everybody knows that Rs 3,000 is not sufficient for our needs, but nothing is being done about it,” says Lissie, who has been working at a single-teacher school in Idukki for the past 14 years.