"Nation's wellbeing depends on teacher’s wellbeing & our teachers are the custodian of our future”, said Indira Gandhi once.
Sadly, this isn't the case anymore, at least not in Jammu and Kashmir. Here, a section of teachers, previously SSA and now called Grade-2, Grade-3 teachers are being discriminated and undervalued by successive regimes. These teachers were engaged under SSA flagship program which was not meant to eradicate unemployment in J&K but to provide education to all, especially marginalised sections of the society.
As per the scheme, a teacher was to be appointed on a meagre amount on a contractual arrangement for a period of 5 years and it was promised that they will be considered at par with Regular teachers after a completion of these five years. Many young, energetic and qualified youth availed the opportunity without knowing its future consequences. They’ve now been victimized under this arrangement due to flawed decisions and administrative processes.
Initially, they faced multiple issues including regularisation but were hoping against hopes. Soon, however, a circular asked these teachers to take some screening tests to prove their worth. The move was in contradiction to the Government’ self-formulated criteria through which they were inducted on merit basis.
Ironically, even after passing two years some of them are still waiting and the department has failed to complete the 100% conversion of these Grade-2 & Grade-3 teachers.
In fact, these teachers have dedicated the prime of their life in rendering services to the department in different capacities like BLO, Election duty, Census, examination, super 50, winter tutorials & even when the department faces dire need of lecturers or teachers for higher levels, this shortage is compensated by the same erstwhile SSA teacher. In addition to it, these teachers have opened schools in remote & far flung areas.
Targeting only one section on one after other pretext is sheer humiliation and challenges the credibility of this section. These teachers are being discriminated to the extent that they have been debarred from transfer policy which leads to many mental and social difficulties for them.
Even as people at the helm of affairs have made promises about addressing these issues; nothing seems to have been done yet. Teacher discrimination has always resulted in a downfall of academic performance. It's high time for the policy makers of the education department to come up with a single cadre of teachers rather than multiple types of staff performing the same work. It will definitely bring a revolution and improvement in the derailed system.
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