Shazia Bano has been a teacher for nearly 30 years in Urdu-medium municipal schools in Gujarat, but she has never felt so helpless in class. Forget teaching, she now finds it difficult to even communicate with her students and colleagues.
Labelled as a “surplus teacher” by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) school board, Shazia (name changed) is now on duty at a Tamil-medium municipal school in the city.
And she is not alone.
In the last one month, 33 Urdu-medium municipal teachers, all Muslims and declared “surplus”, were moved to schools where the medium of instruction is a different language. Four of them were posted to Tamil-medium schools, six to Marathi and two to English, while the “lucky ones” were moved to Gujarati (5) and Hindi-medium (16) institutions.
While the authorities claimed there was no other option due to lack of vacancies in the 59 Urdu-medium institutions among the 452 municipal schools in Ahmedabad, the teachers are upset at what they call “mismanagement” and a “lack of co-ordination” by the administration.
“Throughout my life I have studied and taught in Urdu-medium. At this point, if the authorities ask me to teach in Tamil or Marathi, how will I? Is there any sense in such adjustments?” said another Urdu-medium teacher posted at a Marathi-medium school.
“The school board cannot afford to have its teachers draw salaries (a maximum of Rs 40,000 per month) while sitting idle at home. With no vacancies in Urdu-medium schools, such an adjustment was inevitable,” said L.D. Desai, Administrative Officer, AMC school board.
After repeated representations to authorities, a few of these teachers have been posted as ‘kaamchalau badli’ (temporary replacement) in Urdu-medium schools. While the salaries of these teachers would be drawn from schools that teach in other medium, there is no information yet on their tenure or future.
Some others have been asked to teach subjects that they have never done before. “A few days ago, I was posted as ‘kaamchalau badli’ to a Gujarati-medium school and asked to teach Maths and Science while I am a language teacher and had never taught these subjects,” said another teacher who has been teaching for five years and is a graduate in Arts with a PTC (Primary Teacher Certificate) course.
Another Urdu-medium teacher said she had been transferred seven times in the last three years to Urdu, English and Gujarati-medium schools. “It is difficult to find a Urdu-medium teacher with a BSc qualification,” the teacher said. “With no job opportunities, no one, at least in Ahmedabad, prefers to graduate in Urdu-medium. Thus, vacancies for Maths and Science teachers in Urdu-medium schools go unfilled. That is the reason why the surplus Urdu-medium teachers have been asked to teach these subjects.”
A question of surplus
* In 2012, with Class VIII (11,370 classes) being moved from secondary to primary schools in Gujarat, following the implementation of Right to Education (RTE) Act, as many as 12,482? secondary teachers were declared “surplus”.
* The State Education Department gave school principals the authority to transfer these surplus teachers as “vidya sahayaks” (teaching assistants) for other subjects based on vacancies in other government schools.