SRINAGAR — The exploitation of private school teachers is continuing unabated in the Kashmir valley as most of the schools have not paid salaries to the teaching staff since August 2019.
With COVID-19 positive cases emerging every day all over the Valley, the resumption of normal life appears bleak in the near future. And, teacher community employed in private schools has been badly affected.
“It was the month of March when we were expecting the salaries to be released but now, given the coronavirus pandemic, we have no hope either. Our struggle has gotten worse, to say the least,” Manzoor Dar, a private school teacher from Shopian, says.
He adds, “As we are observing that the administration is taking various steps to combat the epidemic crises of coronavirus like relief work, advance salary to employees etc but a high percentage of population working as private teachers on meager salaries are facing difficult conditions. We are without salaries from last more than seven months.”
Except a few reputed schools, the private educational institutions have largely been evading the release of salaries to the teachers.
“We have been without salaries from the last eight months. In fact, we have not been paid from August 2019,” Qayoom Wani, a private school teacher working in Newa Pulwama, said.
As a mark of protest, many teachers have refused the directive of their school heads to teach online as the Valley witnesses a strict lockdown, imposed to check the spread of Coronavirus. “We can’t teach without salaries. How can the school heads even ask us after not releasing our salaries for months without end?” asks Shabnum Jan from Prichoo Pulwama, another private school teacher.
It is an open secret that the teachers are underpaid and when the payment of their meager salaries is delayed, it aggravates problems further for them.
“Complaints are pouring in that some private schools pay meager salaries for few months to their teachers. Violate minimum wages. DSEK/private school associations and parents need to look into this for quality education,” Dr. Asgar Hassan Samoon, Principal Secretary to Government, School Education Department had tweeted earlier this month. But there seems to been no follow-up action on this.
When contacted, G. N. Var, president of Private Schools’ Association of Jammu and Kashmir (PSAJK) did not answer the repeated calls from this reporter.
Given the fact that PSAJK condemned the government’s lack of action in restoring the 4G network in the Valley and said educational institutes can’t wait endlessly for the situation to normalise, it is equally important to end the unending wait for teachers to receive their salaries. Without the pending salaries, it is really difficult for teachers to work from home and deliver online lectures.