A visit to Pune Municipal Corporation-run School number 70 B located in Kothrud area will give any parent much to think about, as students sit around in the open or play in the corridors all day long, and teachers are difficult to spot. While the students may be making the most of the unprecedented opportunity to get a little exercise, the teachers on the other hand are apparently relaxing at home without having to bother about salary cuts.
Missing from work
Since January 7, most teachers of the 310 civic-run schools in the city have been missing from work. According to records, of the 2,500 teachers and principals from these schools, 434 have registered to attend a six-day convention organized by Maharashtra State Primary Teachers Organisation (MSPTO) at Oros in Sindhudurg district, which started on Monday and concludes on January 12.
However, sources revealed that most of the participating teachers, including the city chairperson of the said organisation, are in the city enjoying six days of leave, though the education board had approved their leave for them to attend the convention.
When MiD DAY contacted MSPTO city chairperson Nitin Rajguru, he admitted that he is in the city only and had not yet gone to Sindhudurg to attend the convention.
“From the past one-and-a-half month I have been on medical leave as I am suffering from a kidney complaint,” Rajguru said. However, he was unable to justify the absence of hundreds of teachers and principals, who are neither attending the convention nor are they present in their respective schools.
The total number of teachers and principals working in the 310 civic-run schools in the city is 2,500, out of which 1,200 are members of MSPTO, while 1,300 teachers are members of the Maharashtra Rajya Padvidhar Prathamik Shikshak Kendrapramukh Sabha (MRPPSKS).
According to Rajguru, only 434 teachers have so far registered to attend the convention, but most of them were not present at the convention on Monday.
Those teachers wishing to attend the convention are entitled to an attendance certificate from MSPTO for a fee of Rs 300. The certificate confirms that the teachers are attending the convention at Sindhudurg and are thereby exempt from a salary cut.
When asked about the procedure and how many teachers were actually attending the convention, Rajguru said, “The fee amount is set by MSPTO to attend the convention, and any member who has paid this sum is getting an attendance certificate. It is a six day event and most of the members who have registered are going to attend the convention on the last two days. So I can’t give the exact number of teachers who have gone there.”
With no teachers attending the convention and few attending to the students in their respective schools, rival teachers’ organisations, teachers and other staff who did not use the opportunity to get ‘special leave’ are raising several questions. “All seven teachers and the principal from our school are on leave to attend the convention. But most of them are still in the city. One teacher is busy with some family function, so he preferred to pay Rs 300 at the MSPTO city office and now has an attendance certificate. He also has six days of paid leave as a result,” said the officiating principal of one such school on condition of anonymity.
Rival teachers’ organisation is criticizing MSPTO by saying that by coming under political pressures set by MSPTO the PMC education board has approved special leaves to teachers and principals.
nuary 31, 2008, no special leave should be allotted to teachers who are attending such state level conventions. Teachers have to apply for casual leave and if it gets approved, only then can they attend
such conventions. The reality here is that most of the teachers in the city have not even applied for leave, but are absent. On the other hand, the education board may have succumbed to political pressure and given permission,” said Bhivaji Dhumal, chairperson of MRPPSKS.
The other side
When contacted, the PMC education board chairperson Pradeep Dhumal said, “When MSPTO members first approached us with a request to approve casual leave for teachers to attend the convention at Sindhudurg, we asked them to ensure that a few teachers were present in every school. Still, I found this week that several schools are not running properly because of the lack of teachers. We have asked MSPTO to submit in writing, a list of those teachers who attended the convention. We will certainly take action against teachers who are neither present at the convention, nor are present at their respective schools.”