Non-implementation of Seventh Pay Commission recommendations, lack of equilibrium between workload and pay package, pay disparity with government school teachers are among the issues plaguing the teaching fraternity in the private sector.
Scores of teachers associated with some of the most sought-after private schools in the country complain of being underpaid while being overburdened with work, something that is contrary to the general perception that teachers working in private schools are better off than their counterparts in government schools.
Many teachers working in top private schools of Delhi, Noida and Gurugram allege of “utter injustice” being meted out to them by the school authorities.
According to them, the schools collect exorbitant fees from the parents in the name of “development” and earn high profits, but do not pass on the financial benefits proportionately to their teaching staff.
Year after year, teachers are forced to work without proper pay hike, while the work burden keeps going up manifold.
Some of these teachers say that they are facing mental harassment to the extent that they have now started speaking out openly about their ordeal and are even preparing to file criminal complaints against their respective managements. These teachers bemoan the fact that there is simply no transparency and equilibrium when it comes to their salary and workload.
PAY PANEL NOT IMPLEMENTED
One of the major issues the teachers raise is non-implementation of the recommendations of the Seventh Central Pay Commission (CPC) by many schools.
While the CPC suggestions, including 23.55% hike in pay and allowances across all sectors, have been implemented in many of Noida’s and Gurugram’s private schools, Delhi lags behind in this respect, with many schools still not obliging.
There is a growing restlessness among the teachers in the private schools where the CPC recommendations have not yet been implemented. An association of unaided private schools has moved the Delhi High Court on the matter.
Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, the association’s counsel Kamal Gupta said, “Some schools have implemented the recommendations but many others have not. If there is no difference between the schools, then why is this happening?” He, however, put the blame on “vote bank politics”.
A teacher told The Sunday Guardian on the condition of anonymity that even after the implementation of Pay Commission recommendations, the school authorities resort to different ways to stop it. “Still there is injustice as teachers are not given salaries as per the recommendations citing ‘lack of experience’ as the reason,” she said.
She added that the school authorities tell the teachers that they are “not qualified enough” to come under the CPC recommendations whereas there is no such restriction imposed by the panel. On the other hand, she claimed, in the name of implementation of the recommendations, these schools have increased the fees. This has created uproar among the parents who are asking the authorities to stop the implementation of the Pay Commission to lower the fees.
HIGH FEES, LOW SALARIES
Teachers complain that schools charge parents “roof breaking fees” in the name of “development” but then “the school authorities claim that they are not able to pay the teachers due to a lack of funds while they increase school fees every year”.
One of the elite schools in Delhi-NCR, with around 7,500 students, charges over Rs 20,000 as quarterly fee and Rs 10,000 per month for bus transportation.
Thus the school’s total earning is more than Rs 2 lakh from each student every year. This means the school earns more than Rs 150 crore a year from the parents, but it has fewer than 100 teachers to cater to this large number of students.
Compared to this, a teacher in such a school with nearly 20 years of experience gets around Rs 60,000 a month. If the Seventh Pay Commission was implemented, the teacher’s salary would be at least Rs 80,000.
“The real sufferers are those who are paid as low as Rs 15,000 though they are well qualified. Moreover, with no Pay Commission implementation in the picture, these private schools have stopped giving the 20% increment to those with over 15 years of experience,” said a teacher.
“Not all the money that schools collect is spent on renovation. Where does all the money go? I don’t understand what is stopping these schools from giving teachers the salary as recommended by the Pay Commission. We deserve pay hike after all the hard work we put in. We teachers cannot lower our standards by saying that we will not teach if we are paid less. Else the authorities would simply instigate the parents against us,” she added.
Another teacher working at a prestigious school told The Sunday Guardian, “Working as a school teacher means there is a lot of extra work and the pay given to us is not at all justified. The teachers are paid very less while the amount of work and burden put on them is much more. It’s not just about teaching anymore.”
With over eight years of experience, she gets Rs 40,000 as monthly salary, sans any health or other benefits. The school, on the other hand, charges a quarterly fee as high as Rs 47,755 per student, excluding transportation fees.
GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS BETTER OFF
The Central Schools, managed by Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, which comes under the Ministry of Human Resources Development, have a very different kind of fee structure which is not only very low but also has many social commitments attached to it. However, the salaries of the teachers working in these schools are quite decent and come with a number of benefits as well.
For example, a student of Class IX or X pays a mere Rs 700 as monthly fee there. Moreover, girl and disabled students and children belonging to Army and below poverty-line (BPL) families are all exempted from paying the fees. On the other hand, a teacher working there for around 20 years earns about Rs 80,000 per month as per the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations.
Saurabh Mohapatra, co-founder of educational consultant firm MereExams, told this newspaper, “There is a huge disparity between the salaries of the teachers working in private schools and their counterparts in government schools.”
He, however, claimed that “private schools have much better standards than public schools because their teachers are trained and groomed in a much better manner”.
Though Mohapatra advocated autonomy for the private schools, he added in the same breath that the government should take measures towards the standardisation of Indian schools. “The best approach will be to give private schools autonomy. But I would also say that both private and public schools need proper guidance to provide students with better education,” he said.
Another issue the private school teachers raise vociferously is the school managements’ “bias” towards parents, which according to them is not the case with the government school teachers. They allege that their school authorities are “oversensitive” towards the complaints of the parents against the teachers. They react sharply even to an insignificant complaint and invariably side with the parents.
In their bid to keep the parents in good humour, the management officials often don’t hesitate to humiliate a teacher in front of everyone, including his/her own students. Many times, they even don’t care to check the veracity of the allegations against the teachers and just ask them to remain submissive to the parents all the time.
A teacher working in a Noida-based private school explained, “We are not against the management taking action against an errant teacher. But the authorities should maintain balance and must not take sides. First they should investigate into an allegation and find out who is at fault. If it’s not a major issue, they should call both the sides and try out a rapprochement between them. Only if a teacher is at fault and too adamant to admit the guilt, the management should take action against him/her. The same should apply to the parents too.”
OTHER ISSUES, SOLUTION
Many schools also force their teaching staff to do supplementary work on non-working days. A teacher said they are generally put on Central examination duty very much against their wish.
“One of the biggest problems with that is the exam usually takes place on Sundays and we get just that one day as weekly off. The management doesn’t even give us a compensatory off and we have to sometimes work continuously for two weeks without a break. This affects our health and private life as well,” he lamented.
Also, issues ranging from mental and sexual harassment among others not only affect the teaching community but also the standard and quality of education.
Speaking about possible solutions, the aggrieved teachers suggest government intervention as one of the most effective preventive measures in this regard. They want the government to develop a mechanism so as to keep a tab on the working of the private schools across the country.
“In my opinion, the government should regularly monitor the working of the private schools. Teachers should also be given some liberty and a say in the decision-making of the school,” added a teacher.
Numerous attempts by these correspondents to reach out to the school managements bore no fruit. Phone calls apart, emails to the authorities of many prominent schools went unanswered for many weeks.