Teacher managementTemporary teachers should either prove their calibre or take the severance package
In a bid to resolve the long-festering issue of temporary teachers, the government, in the eighth amendment to the Education Act, had recently given them two options—sit an examination to gain permanent status or accept a severance package, popularly referred to as the “golden handshake’’. But the teachers do not seem to be satisfied with the provision. For the past five days, temporary teachers are on a relay hunger strike at Maitighar, demanding further amendment to the Act.
The government has provided permanent vacancies for the temporary teachers in three categories based on their service period, with an equal number of schemes for the golden handshake option. For a permanent posting, the temporary teachers recruited before 1993 need 40 percent of the full marks in the examination; teachers recruited between 1993 and 2004 will have to compete internally among their peers; and the teachers recruited between 2004 and 2015 will have to compete with new candidates although 49 percent of the seats will be reserved for them. Similarly, the golden handshake option, which offers a severance sum between Rs100,000 and Rs400,000, is provided under three categories based on the service period: between from 5 to 10 years; between 10 and 15 years; and 15 years and above.
Discontent with these provisions, teachers are now demanding that an internal competition be held for all and those failing to gain permanent status be provided with free medical treatment. They are also demanding that those temporary teachers who have retired on age grounds should be given the severance package and medical treatment facility.
The issue of temporary teachers has been up for debate for quite some time now. Temporary teachers have long been demanding permanent status through internal competition along with pay and perks on a par with permanent teachers. Moreover, teachers’ unions in the past have stressed the need to permanently resolve the problem because there are 17 different categories of teachers at the school level with 16 of them on the temporary payroll, which has made the management of the teachers difficult. An agreement was also reached between the government and the Temporary Teachers’ Struggle Committee nearly six years ago on this matter.
So the recent amendment is a result of a long struggle waged by the teachers. And now that the government has come up with solutions, the teachers should meet it halfway. The government’s proposal to either prove one’s competence through an exam or to accept the severance package is fair. Demanding extra facilities for teachers who fail is unreasonable.
However, the government should provide some compensation for those temporary teachers who have already retired.
For schools, no factor—budget, class size, curriculum—is more important that having good teachers. Given that our public schools are far from stellar, it is all the more important to have good teachers working there. So if the temporary teachers, some of whom were appointed on the basis of their political affiliation in the first place, want permanent positions, they have to prove their calibre.