Job­less T’gana teach­ers turn to man­ual labour

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - HTSPOTLIGH­T - Srini­vasa Rao Ap­pa­rasu let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

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.

HT PHOTO

Za­heer Ahmed Sheik, 40, a Hindi teacher, now loads and un­loads gas cylin­ders.

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