Covid-19: Schools terminate contractual services, reduce teaching staff during lockdown

Schools say that non-payment of fees and no support of government have led them to take these decisions


In a desperate bid to remain financially viable, a number of schools are trying to cut costs as they are not getting fees and finding it increasingly difficult to raise funds for additional expenditure, reported The Telegraph.

Recurring contracts put on hold

Schools over the country are feeling the pressure amid the lockdown as it is not yet clear when classes would resume. In cities like Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Delhi and other places where cases are burgeoning, schools are treading safe and cutting back on all investments that they currently feel are not of need.

In Calcutta, The Telegraph reported, Sri Sri Academy has decided to reduce its bus fleet by half and Chowringhee High School has discontinued its digital classroom contract for which it has to an agency every quarter. Some other schools have taken a break from upgrading their IT infrastructure and paused the renewal of contract with nurses.

Even though digital classrooms are imperative for kids to keep abreast with the syllabus during the lockdown, some schools like the Chowringhee High School see no alternative but to discontinue the service as parents face financial hardships in paying the fees, The Telegraph reported.

Earlier last month, twenty two contractual employees of the DAV Public School in Amritsar who worked as peons and sweepers protested as they were allegedly laid off by the management and not even paid their dues, The Tribune reported. However, the school authorities refuted the claims of the layoffs and told the publication that the management had issued orders to not renew contracts of outsourced employees until the school reopened.

Teachers hit hard

In Mumbai, The Times of India reported that the Private Unaided School Managements Association, Independent English Schools Association and Unaided Schools Forum which have a total membership of nearly 440 schools said that about 60 percent of budget private schools were in no financial position to pay their teachers and start online classes. Budget private schools are those that charge an annual fee of less than Rs. 15,000. Rajendra Singh of the Independent English Schools Association told TOI, “In many budget private schools where fees are minimal, there isn’t any scope to dig into reserves. So schools do not have resources to build up online infrastructure and start classes.”

In Telangana, in May, private school managements had decided to not renew the contracts of teachers as there was no clarity on when the 2020-21 academic year would commence, The Times of India had reported. The Telangana Recognized Managements Association (TRSMA) which has over 10,000 school managements as members, had also decided to stop paying teachers their salaries starting May, attributing the move to non-payment of fees by parents.

In Delhi, Hindustan Times reported that teachers working on a contractual basis who were paid every day, were forced to find alternative means of livelihood during the lockdown – by selling vegetables, setting up a repair shop or returning to farming, as schools continued to remain closed. These teachers who are not paid for Sunday’s, vacations or national holidays but somehow managed to find work during such times to support their income, are now left fending for themselves until schools reopen physically.

Domino effect of government apathy

The education system in India is in the doldrums. It is finding itself in a difficult position as it doesn’t have any answer to give to educational institutions about what help they will get to sustain during the pandemic.

When Hindustan Times spoke to Delhi’s education minister Manish Sisodia asking him about a plan to take back guest teachers, he said, “The matter is to be taken by the services department, which is under the Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi. Service matters are not discussed with us.”

Andhra Pradesh, on the other hand, which released the budget for 2020-21 reduced the allocation for the state’s education sector to 11.21 percent compared with 14.31 percent in the last academic year. P. Babu Reddy, General Secretary of the United Teachers Federation, AP, told the Wire that the budget cuts don’t bode well for the education sector which is already facing a host of problems during the pandemic.

In the Union Budget 2020, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman earmarked Rs. 99,311 crore for the education sector in 2020 – 21 and around Rs. 3,000 crore on skill development. While Rs. 99,311 crore does look like a whopping statistic, on closer look it reveals only a 5 percent increase from the previous year’s allocation which was Rs. 94,800 crore. The 2020 budget also emphasized the need for quality teacher education, but the reduced budgetary outlay for the same from Rs. 870 crores in 2018-19, to Rs. 125 crore in 2019-20 and now to Rs. 110 crore for 2020-21, just goes to suggest that the government has not made this a priority.

Before the pandemic hit, almost all states in India experienced teacher and staff protests over pay with student movements taking place in universities like Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jadavpur University, Delhi University, etc. Now, the position of teachers and staff members has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic has further worsened the situation with salary cuts and non-renewal of contracts with no end of their struggles in sight.


Budget 2020 shows the bleak future of higher education in India

Thousands of teachers to cease work in West Bengal colleges today




Related Articles