Jobless T’gana teachers turn to manual labour
HYDERABAD: Payili Satyanarayana, 32, taught at a private school in Telangana’s Suryapet town until the Covid-19 pandemic turned his life upside down. He was forced to return to his village in Nalgonda district with his wife and eight-month-old son when the lockdown imposed to check the pandemic spread forced the closure of the school and left him jobless. Satyanarayana was paid one-third of his salary in March before the school management said it could no longer pay him.
Left with no other source of income to survive, Satyanarayana enrolled under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme under which at least one member of every rural household is guaranteed 100-day manual work annually. “I was paid ₹150 daily for desilting work at a local tank. But that was hardly enough. Later, I joined as a labourer in cotton fields, where I am getting around ₹300 daily,” said Satyanarayana, who has a master’s degree in Telugu literature.
He said he worked as a teacher for a paltry salary of ₹15,000 a month. “Yet, it was a noble profession with respect in society.”
Satyanarayana’s situation mirrors that of many like Zaheer Ahmed Sheik, 40. Sheik worked as a Hindi teacher but is now forced to eke out a living loading and unloading gas cylinders at a warehouse for ₹500 weekly.
Telangana Private Teachers Federation president Sheik Shabbir Ali said there are 11,700 recognised private schools in the state and most of their teachers have lost jobs. “As per the official statistics, 1,20,350 teachers were working in these schools, but unofficially the number is more than 250,000.”
Ali said many prestigious schools have resumed online classes but they too have engaged fewer teachers. Telangana private school managements’ association president Papi Reddy said the private schools were aware of the plight of the teachers but they were also helpless. “There is no possibility of the schools being reopened even partially, unless the Covid-19 cases come down,” he said.
While school education secretary Chitra Ramachandran could not be reached for comment, an officer on special duty in the department said the state government was not in a position to take any decision on reopening of schools due to rising Covid-19 cases.
“We are awaiting a direction from National Council of Education Research and Training . We shall take a call after seeing the guidelines,” he said.
Zaheer Ahmed Sheik, 40, a Hindi teacher, now loads and unloads gas cylinders.