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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

With sweeping changes, uncertainty ends for MGLC teachers – Mrit News

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Teachers of single-teacher schools are unhappy at being redeployed as sweepers, but welcome the perks

Teachers of single-teacher schools are unhappy at being redeployed as sweepers, but welcome the perks

M. Salam taught at the same multi-grade learning centre (MGLC) or single-teacher school at Edavanna in Malappuram for half his 50 years. This month, he joined duty at Government Vocational Higher Secondary School, Kizhuparambu, near Areekode, in the full-time menial grade, that is as sweeper.

With the government deciding to phase out MGLCs, less than 10 of the 270 MGLCs remain open. The rest, in some of the remotest parts, have been closed down and the children shifted to nearby schools or tribal hostels. Most of the 344 teachers (called Vidya volunteers) who taught in these schools for honorarium have been redeployed as part-time contingent menial/full-time menial after taking their consent and considering seniority.

The Vidya volunteers acknowledge that taking up work as a sweeper after teaching young children for years is not easy. The emotions writ large on the face of K.R. Ushakumari, a Vidya volunteer at a MGLC deep inside the forests near Amboori in Thiruvananthapuram district, as she narrated her predicament had most people sit up and take notice.

However, many are happy that they have been taken into government service. Most of them are not qualified to be primary school teachers. Some have passed SSLC or pre-degree, some others are graduates, and only a few have Trained Teachers’ Certificate.

“For sure, the nature of our new job is different, but at least we will get our salaries on time. Also, those volunteers who are qualified can try for better opportunities,” says R. Shemi, a Vidya volunteer for 11 years who taught at one of the four MGLCs that have been closed down on the Aralam farm in Kannur district.

“It was a blessing to teach children, but that was the sole consolation. It was a struggle at the MGLCs. Besides textbook, uniform, mid-day meal, and stipend, we did not get any funds,” says Mr. Salam.

Another teacher, Anil Kumar, from Kasaragod says they did not get any TA/DA either. “In the sweeper grade, we fall in the ₹23,000-₹50,200 salary bracket, which is more than what we used to get, and are entitled to benefits such as provident fund, and TA/DA.”

Most of the MGLC lacked basic facilities. Mr. Salam trudged along rough tracks to reach the MGLC that did not have a fitness certificate, while Ms. Shemi’s MGLC had some plastic kind of roof that would be unbearable in the heat.

The Vidya volunteers are happy that the children will now receive formal education as they are entitled to under the Right to Education Act. In MGLCs, a student would not get one-fifth of the five hours that they would do in primary school. Though the Vidya volunteers received teacher training, it was not enough to cater to the needs of a multi-grade classroom, a District Institute of Education and Training (DIET) study had found.

Their future was always a question mark, the teachers point out. It was after continuous talks with the government that a solution in the form of full-time menial/part-time contingent menial post was arrived at. Any attempt to appoint them to a higher post would end up in courts as PSC rank-holders were waiting in the wings. “There was no other go. Considering the years of service we have put in as Vidya volunteers, the government did well to consider the matter favourably,” say the teachers.


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