PLIGHT OF PRIVATE SCHOOL TEACHERS
By: Mansoor Malik
Teaching is one of the most respectful and valuable professions in the world. In Islam, this profession has more importance as our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was himself a teacher for the humanity. Allah says in the Holy Quran “We have sent among you a Messenger of your own, rehearsing to you Our verses, and purifying you, and instructing you in scripture and wisdom, and in new knowledge” (Quran, 2: 151 ).
The person who teaches is a teacher, a man of obedience and respect. Teachers bear the responsibility of moulding students. Islam has granted high status and rights to teachers. We can understand the highest rank of teachers from the quote of Hazrat Ali (RA) in which He (RA) stated that: “If a person teaches me one single word, he has made me his servant for a lifetime’.
Unfortunately in this part of world teachers are regarded as mere labourers and their rights are being exploited. The so called educational institutions which give us lessons of human value and human respect are themselves exploiting the elite class of our society in the name Education. The educational institution are silent killers of future of thousands of teachers which otherwise deserve highest place in our society in terms of respect, honour and better resources for their life.
There are around 53,000 private teachers and other staff working in around 3000 private schools in Kashmir division. Without any job security the teachers hired by private schools are usually paid less than what the government pays to daily-wagers in the education department. The average salary of private school teacher is around Rs 5000 per month, while their counterparts in government sector receive on an average Rs 40,000 salary a month. Only less than two percent of schools pay Rs 20000 or Rs 30000 to a private school teacher.
The student teacher ratio in private schools is more than Government schools, They have much more work load that government teachers and higher proficiency in terms of results is expected from them in return. Not only are they paid less salaries, majority of the private school teachers are exploited by the school management. They do it tactically by changing the nature of their job and creating mental pressures to quit their job to avoid paying them their salaries. In some cases it has come to fore that the teachers are often hired in March and fired in October to avoid paying them salaries for winter months. Given the scale of unemployment in Kashmir, the teachers have no choice but to accept it.
Teaching is a noble profession but in our society private school teachers are treated as mere servants. There is no regard for their academic degrees, and they can be fired by the school management anytime suiting the mood of the management. Due to less opportunities of employment in Kashmir the educated, unemployed youth— facing depression, looked down upon by the society, for doing nothing are left with no choices. All these forces led them to bear all the exploitation and thus they end up as private school teachers. That is how they settle down for very less salaries, work for entire life and retire at same levels, with no allowances, no job security, no medical securities, and years of toil ending in null.
The women teachers are being more exploited than their male counterparts. They often work for very less salaries, as they found the job as socially acceptable till they get married. The schools which are considered as important source of human resources development unfortunately are secretly destroying the same resources in the name of Education. There are many examples where private school teachers who spent their lives in the service of society are at the end seen working as ATM guards, Gatekeepers, chokidars etc.
The private schools have became big businesses, unfortunately, running on the blood of poor teachers. The civil society and champions of human rights are mute spectators to the misery of the private school teachers.
– The writer can be reached at [email protected]