SSA scheme was launched in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in the year 2002-03. It is implemented as a flagship program of the Government of India with the aim of universalizing elementary education. Thousands of unemployed, young energetic and qualified youth were appointed as Rehbar e Taleem(ReT) teachers on the basis of academic merit under this scheme. These teachers worked tirelessly to curb the rate of unemployment and gave a boost to our ailing education sector by raising literacy rate. They were supposed to work on Rs. 1500 per month with job security after completing tenure of five years. Consequently, thousands of ReT teachers, after completing their five year tenures were regularized by the successive Governments without seeking any approval from the finance and planning departments and without notified vacancies.
These teachers have now become scapegoats for none of their faults and are facing hardships from the last few years due to non release of their salaries regularly. It has become routine for them that every time they need hard earned wages, they have to protest on the roads. When the Government is compelled by protesting teachers, they a single month’s salary from the state coffers on a loan basis. Moreover, these teachers were given all the benefits including 6th pay commission but were isolated and denied from the implementation of 7th pay commission which is illogical, insensible and appears to be the consequence of some political vengeance on part of people with helm of affairs.
It is pertinent here to mention that when a person opts for an employment his main motive behind the job is to earn bread and butter to feed his kith and kin. And , there is no legal or moral ground to stop them from their legitimate rights. The Government seems hell-bent upon this scheme which has compelled teachers to opt the spirit of struggle and dedication towards their cause by actively participation in an indefinite hunger strike at Pratap Park , Srinagar from the last ten days under the banner of Teachers Joint action committee lead by Mr Abdul Qayoom Wani.
Even the civil society is also supporting and participating in solidarity with the teachers; the issue has now snowballed into a major row due to the callous attitude from people with helm of affairs. Ironically, no official from the Education department has visited them from last day. These teachers are on the verge of starvation.
Education is the backbone of every nation. It is education which plays a great role in developing the nation in every field. If the people of a nation are educated then they can easily help them in development and the teachers are the agency for the transformation of education. But, the nation where you disturb and disgrace these transformational agencies will have ill effects for its progress. Every citizen of the state is appealing His excellence, the Governor, and his advisors if they are serious in bringing the shattered system of education back on track, they must take cognizance of the situation and redress the issues and legitimate demands of nation builders.
—The author is a social activist. He can be reached at:firstname.lastname@example.org