As per the Right to Education Act (RTE), the teacher-student ratio for primary sections needs to be 1:35, while for secondary, it should be 1:40. On the basis of the same, the state education department has recently declared close to 45,000 teachers across the state as ‘surplus’. Scared of losing their jobs and means of livelihood, a group of 500-odd teaching and non-teaching staff members from Mumbai schools, staged a protest in front of BD Phadtare, deputy director of school education, Mumbai region’s office on Thursday.
Teachers in the ‘surplus’ category stage a protest in front of the deputy director of school education’s office. Pic/Shreya Bhandary
Jalinder Sarode, one of the teachers at the protest, told sunday mid-day, “RTE also stresses on the need for clean toilets in schools, clean drinking water and edible food for all. Why can’t the government implement these rules first? All they can think of is harassing teachers.”
Ashok Belsare, who belongs to Shikshak Bharti, a social group, and was one of the protestors, informed that many teachers are hired on probationary basis for a period of three years. “Their salaries are paid online, same as the permanent teachers.
But the education department has now decided to make the salary payment offline for probationary teachers, which means there’s a good chance they will end up losing their jobs soon,” he said. He added that the protest was to demand that the education department continue the salary payment through the online system and also ensure that these teachers get hired on a permanent basis.
Explaining their distress over payments being made offline, another teacher said, “Hundreds of teachers in Thane region who were supposed to be paid offline have not received their salaries in seven months. Now the department is threatening to implement the same in Mumbai schools, so that means we won’t receive salaries either.”
While teachers were protesting in Mumbai, the deputy director of education was in Pune, attending meetings to discuss the nuances of RTE that are still to be implemented in all schools across the state. “We are discussing ways to implement the rules so as to avoid putting any teacher in trouble. Surplus teachers will not lose their jobs,” Phadtare confirmed. A day prior to the protest, teachers also met up with State Minister of Education, Vinod Tawde, to discuss their plight. “The minister has assured us that he will look into this matter,” said Sarode.