The rules regarding what constitutes a trained teacher that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) follows, are denying one her right to full pension, over three years since her retirement. Rita Devasia, (62), from Borivli, has been receiving a paltry sum as her pension, and is finding it hard to make ends meet.
Having taught for over 35 years, she said she has been fighting to get her full pension, but has not got a firm answer from the concerned offices. “I began teaching in 1975 and taught for 36 years. All those years I was given so much respect but now, I’ve been running pillar to post for my rights.
The education department and BMC are only giving me hopes but no solution or a concrete answer,” said Devasia, who was a teacher at Borivli’s St Francis High School till 2011. She joined the school as a special teacher (needle work) and later on completed her Diploma in Education (D. Ed) in 1986.
“After completing my D. Ed, I had requested the management to promote me to a class teacher’s post but I was told that there was a need for special teachers, so I continued. Now the BMC education department says that special teachers are not trained teachers, so I will not get my full pension,” she added.
When she first joined the school, which was a co-education institute at that time, Devasia taught needle work to primary section students. By 1981, the school management changed it to an only boys’ school. Today, Devasia is being questioned about her skills as a needle work teacher in a boys’ school.
“No one told me that I will be called untrained just because I taught special subjects. Even my D. Ed is being ignored now. The state education department rules clearly mention that even teachers for drawing, physical education, needle work, etc are trained teachers but apparently BMC doesn’t follow the same rules,” she added.
In the past three years, Devasia has visited the state education department in Pune (to get documents regarding their rules), the education department in Mumbai, and the BMC education office in Dadar innumerable times, all to no avail.
There are several other teachers who are facing the same problem and have been struggling to make ends meet as the BMC is only paying them a minimum amount of R4,000 per month, instead of the R14,000 that they could be entitled to.
An official of the BMC education department said that “untrained” teachers are not entitled to full pension. “We are still verifying certain aspects of these teachers’ pension files and once they are cleared, the teachers will get what they should,” said the official. As of now, however, there’s no clarity on this rule and teachers are worried that by the time these queries are cleared, it’ll be too late.
A futile fight
Lydia Vaz, (61), taught for three decades in Borivli’s St Francis High School and retired four years ago. However, with changing rules and regulations in the department, she couldn’t get hold of any pension and died recently waiting for the same.