When Thane was split up to create Palghar, Azfar Sayyed was transferred to a school in Bhiwandi; 13 months later, he is still waiting for the job
"I taught at different schools across Wada for 23 years. Today, I'm struggling to secure the job I was promised by the state 13 months ago. The government has failed to live up to its promise," said Azfar Abbas Sayyed.
A victim of bureaucracy: Azfar Sayyed says the situation is so precarious that his family of six eats just once a day to ensure there is food for the next. Pic/Rane Ashish
According to Sayyed, days after he received a transfer order — asking him to start duty at a Bhiwandi school — he was informed by the school authorities that the post allotted to him was not vacant. Since then, the 45-year-old teacher has been running from Panchayat Samiti to the Thane Zilla Parishad to seek clarity on the issue.
"The problem began in 2014, after Thane got divided into two districts. Soon after the division, senior teachers were given a choice of choosing the district they wanted to teach in. Since I chose to stay in Thane, I was transferred to this school in Bhiwandi," said Sayyed.
On reporting at the Khoni Urdu Zilla Parishad School, Sayyed said he was informed that the post given to him was already occupied. Moreover, school authorities asked him to produce documents from the Thane Zilla Parishad stating that he had been transferred.
A spokesperson from the school told mid-day, "Sayyed stated that he was transferred to our school, but we had no posts vacant to hire him. So we insisted on an official letter, which he is yet to produce."
Thane was split into two districts — Thane and Palghar — in August 2014. Palghar became the state's 36th district. After this division, Wada went to Palghar. Soon, teachers in both the districts were approached seeking their preferences, and Sayyed, like many others, opted to continue teaching in Thane.
Frustrated by the red tapism that threatened to engulf his job, Sayyed sought help from the State Minorities Commission in August 2014. Later, in April 2015, the Commission ruled in his favour, and pulled up Thane Zilla Parishad authorities for the error.
"The (Commission's) ruling clearly mentions that I should not only be placed at a school, but also paid for the period of my unemployment," he added.
Following the Commission's ruling, the Bhiwandi school management wrote to Sayyed stating that since no post was vacant at the school, he would be posted back in the Wada school.
"It took them eight months to realise that the post at the Bhiwandi school wasn't vacant; they want to send me back to Wada without consulting me. I moved my family to Govandi due after the Bhiwandi transfer, and now they expect us to move back," said Sayyed.
'Struggling to survive'
Sayyed said the ongoing spell of unemployment has made it difficult for him to provide for his family of six. While his eldest daughter is pursuing an MA in Psychology, his youngest son is still in school. The other two children are mostly at home. "I've sold all my wife's jewellery and taken loans to put food on the table. Now, we are eating once a day to ensure we have food for the next day," said Sayyed.
In the past 13 months, Sayyed claimed he sought help from various officers and ministers, including the education minister and chief minister. "After every meeting, a letter was sent to the authorities concerned. But nothing has changed. I hope my problem is taken seriously and I get back to do what I love to do, teaching."
The other side
When contacted, a senior education officer from Thane Zilla Parishad, said the case is pending because of the teacher's 'stubborn' attitude. “We have already informed the teacher (Sayyed) that since there's no vacant post in the Bhiwandi school, he will have to go back to Wada. However, he refuses to move. We will see how best we can help him,” said Mina Yadav, education officer.
Maharashtra has been struggling with the problem of surplus teachers for some time, especially after the implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act. As per the RTE Act, the student-teacher ratio for class V is supposed to be 30:1, for std VI to VIII it should be 35:1 and for std IX and X it is 35:1. Keeping these ratios in mind, teachers from numerous schools in the state were declared surplus in 2013. However, the state government made it clear that until these teachers were placed in other jobs, they would continue to receive a monthly payment from the government.
However, in Sayyed’s case, since the transfer order came after the formation of a new district, he is not being considered as surplus teacher and remains unpaid for the last 13 months.