For many private teachers, the coming Eid ul fitr will be second consecutive Eid without salary. The previous being the one which was celebrated in august last year, when whole Kashmir was under strict curfew imposed by the administration. That curfew dwindle almost every sector of Kashmir economy including the education industry.
However when life returned to normal in December and many sectors of economy began to work, schools went for winter vacations and opened only in the last week of February 2020, only to get closed again in mid march due to Covid-19 lockdown.
Since then schools are closed and education activity is taking place online through different platforms, while teachers and students struggling with low internet speed.
In this long unprecedented closure, many schools have not paid to their staff from past many months. As per the JKPSA – an amalgam of private school owners, some 65000 teaching and non teaching staff is affected, as there is no source of income with them.
The reason being told for this mess is that schools have stopped receiving fees from students and there is no source of income left with school managements to pay the staff salary.
This is however; partially untrue as many parents have paid their ward dues till March at least, when their wards were promoted to new classes, as all of us know it is an unwritten rule in private schools, not to allow the students to sit in next class, until the dues of previous class are cleared. So, why private schools denied salaries to their staff? They should at least clear it till March.
The reality is that the staff salary is not the priority of the school, even in normalcy, the priority is the installments to banks against the heavy loans that these schools have taken to build infrastructure in order to grab parents. Even in the current situation, if the parents pay fee, it is very unlikely that schools will pay in full to their staff.
Further these private schools charge skyrocketing tuition fee, bus fee, Annual charges, printing and building fee, apart from one time admission fee varies from 30,000-100,000 per student, they earn in crores annually, why can’t they pay to their staff from their savings in this challenging time, when other private establishments are paying to their staff. This is illogical and irrational to make the staff salary subservient to school fees.
Private Schools are like any other business establishments, subject to profit and loss, why should the private teacher bear losses when he is not sharing the profit? A private teacher is an employee with school and not a share holder. He has not signed any agreement with his employer- suppose if the school suffered any losses, he will not ask for salary.
A private school is bound to pay to his employee and also has right to collect the school fees. But making it the staff salary correlated with school fee is not logical. Schools have to pay to their staff on time in any sense. Profit and loss is the feature of any business and private school is not any exception.
Private teachers are wholly and solely dependent upon the institutions, they work for. Like others, they have families, children, parents and other responsibilities to shoulder, how they can survive this lockdown, when big businessmen and other wealthy people are yelling in day and night about their sufferings. They even can’t go for loans as there is no guarantee to repay it.
This is very inhumane; they have served this society at the cost of their youth, their family and their respect. And today they need our support, we as a society need to speak for them and make the private schools bound to pay them before this Eid, as no human on earth can survive without money for long ten months.
Enough they have suffered and now there is need of respite. The government can be very helpful here to include them in relief package, announced recently for needy and destitute in view of the Covid-19 lockdown.