The practice of hiring contractual lecturers in J&K’s School Education department on petty wages victimises the bright appointees who not only have to work for peanuts but are often posted in far-flung areas where the regular, well-seated employees refuse to work.
With an M.Phil in Zoology and M.Ed degrees, Arshid Ahmad, 32, is struggling to get a government job. He applied for different state, division and district cadre job openings but, to his utter disappointment, he didn’t meet any success. Working as a contractual lecturer of Zoology in school education department, Arshid is unhappy but he there’s no alternative to the contractual job which fetches him Rs 7000 per month which he says can buy him a simple Nike shoes or an Adidas jacket.
“Luckily I am not married, otherwise life being a contractual lecturer in school education department would have been much tedious. How can I manage affairs of marriage when I am working for peanuts”, Arshid laments. “The way the government treats us in terms of salary has made a big joke of our life”.
A permanent lecturer in J&K’s School Education department gets monthly salary of around Rs 50000. And they have to work only for around two hours a day to deliver lectures in two classes, according to teachers who spoke with Kashmir Scan. A contractual lecturer in School Education department, on the other hand, faces discrimination to the extent that they are sometimes directed to teach the Class 9 and Class 10 students in addition to those in higher secondary classes where teachers are already in excess.
“We feel discriminated against and singled out in educational institutions. The only reason of discrimination is that we are contractual appointees and have to leave the job on the last working day of academic year”, grieves Asif Rasool, a Political Science contractual lecturer in School Education department.
“Last year when I had to prepare for JKPSC examination, I requested the concerned authorities for a five-day leave which was outrightly rejected. It resulted in my failure as I was not able to manage time to teach and prepare for the examination at the same time”, rues Asif Rasool.
“Sometimes we are laughed at and asked to leave and find some other alternative if we come with a leave application; be it because of our ill-health or some other important work that may crop up”, Rasool adds.
The contractual lecturer appointees in School Education department in fact are not any other species but they belong to the same fraternity of the teaching class that holds permanent places in the scheme of things. But, as revealed by them, they have to face many challenges at different levels which take a heavy toll on their lives. They are sometimes posted to far flung areas when they have to spend Rs 200-300 every day which if multiplied to the monthly working days amounts to Rs 6000 per month in travel expenditure.
“I have been posted to the extreme south of Anantnag district, in a village named Khaarpora. I have to spend on an average Rs 200 per day and most of it is expended on transport fare. It is like going to Pampore from Anantnag”, said Ruqaya, a contractual lecturer.
“I can’t afford to live in a rented accommodation there and even if I would like to, it will cost me more that what is given as a salary on monthly basis by the School Education department”, she laments. “And, being a girl in a conservative setup and that too far from her family, gives you a different feeling”, she adds.
When the issue was raised with some officials of the School Education department by Kashmir Scan, they said they are bound by “compulsions”. One of the officials on the condition of anonymity said:
“There are many vacancies that are already filled in the nearest higher secondary schools of district Anantnag by permanent faculty and posts are vacant only in the far flung areas. We take every caution before posting an employee in any place but we have to keep many yardsticks in mind, like the merit according to which we the contractual lecturers are posted”.
While the bureaucratic red-tapism and prevarication may not explain the yardstick applied for posting these employees, there are unknown-knowns who, being close kin or relative of bureaucrats, ministers or MLAs get the prized posting to the nearest institution, “It is not an exception and it cannot be ruled out”, the official said.
This year, the contractual lecturers of School Education department of district Anantnag had to suffer much. Sometimes they were asked to join at one institute and after only few days the earlier order was changed, new one issued and the contractual lecturers were asked to join the same institute that was earlier filled and the first appointee was asked to report to the CEO Anantnag for further posting. It created anger among the appointees who feel discriminated and victimized by political nepotism. One of the contractual appointee on the condition of anonymity said:
“I was asked to join Kokernag Higher Secondary and after few days another contractual appointee of the same subject came to join, to my utmost disappointment. How is it possible that it was only by an error I was adjusted at the post and was only informed after few days of posting?”
“Then, after reporting to the CEO Anantnag, I was posted to a far flung area with tricky roads and non-availability of transport facilities at regular intervals”, he lamented.
Petty salaries and the amount of hard work put in by these lecturers makes it incumbent on the government to take their proper care. The issues of contractual appointees vis a vis salary and other adjustments, when they too have contributed to the well being of the students, must be addressed. Without them, it would be impossible to run the higher secondary schools. Since many years all they have been assured is hollow promises which have never been fulfilled.
Speaking on the issues of various hardships faced by the contractual appointees, the Minister for Education, Syed Altaf Bukhari said: “The contractual appointees whether they are teachers or lecturers have to fulfil their duties for what they are being appointed.” The minister denied any political intervention in posting and transfers of contractual appointees: “The department engages the contractual appointees on need-basis at various educational institutions and by that way they are supposed to fulfil their duties in the areas where they are required”.
Many names have been changed to protect the identity of teachers.