Most government-aided schools in India are not ones established by the government. They were initially set up to meet the educational requirement of a particular region. Nowadays, business-oriented schools are coming up even in rural areas. It’s been a trend that schools and colleges set up by locals start looking for government grants after some years. The teachers get government salary after years of persuasion. With increase in the number of applicants for government aid, the process gets delayed very often. No wonder teachers coming to the street with demands is a regular happening.

Teachers under the banner of one association in Meghalaya have announced a two-week-long strike from August 22 demanding provincialisation of their institutions that would secure their jobs and ensure huge leap in salary. Some school and college teachers on government payroll draw salary in five digits while there are instances of teachers having to fend for themselves with Rs 2000-Rs 3000! The state government enhanced the salary of certain category teachers while leaving out the rest, fuelling the proposed strike. The teachers wonder why should they be paid less for teaching the same thing as those in government or provincialised schools do? The government says it has financial limitations in funding all schools set up in various nook and corner of the state.

Most of the schools where the teachers are on agitation were not established on the promise of getting government aid. But it has been a convention in the country to upgrade such schools, especially enhance the teachers’ salary as per government standard. These schools have immensely contributed towards the growth in education over the decades, but the scenario has changed with private schools mushroomed even in interior regions. Looking at the perennial government reluctance in provincialising schools, there has to be a second thought before opening a school. Like any other business, the school also must have a ‘sustainable model’ – students to get enrolled and revenue generation avenues including fees to run the school. Otherwise, the teachers would remain demanding their dues in the name of being in a ‘noble profession’ and never make teaching a ‘rewarding profession’. Any good profession has to be rewarding, else it would perish.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on August 12, 2016)

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