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Guest teachers protest near CM home, joined by Sidhu

According to the protesting teachers, the decision to re-ignite this long-standing demand came after Kejriwal joined a protest by guest teachers in Punjab late last month and promised they would be regularised if the AAP is brought to power there.

Written by Sukrita Baruah | New Delhi |
Updated: December 6, 2021 4:45:14 am
Navjot Singh Sidhu joins protest organised by Delhi government schools' guest teachers.

Several contractual teachers working in Delhi government schools sat in protest near Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence Sunday, once again raising the demand for a policy that offers them job security.

According to the protesting teachers, the decision to re-ignite this long-standing demand came after Kejriwal joined a protest by guest teachers in Punjab late last month and promised they would be regularised if the AAP is brought to power there.

Joining contractual teachers protesting outside the Punjab State School Education Board building, Kejriwal had said, “The people of Punjab had put their faith in different parties in the past. I now want to assure you that I addressed issues of teachers in Delhi, and we will resolve issues in Punjab as well.”

In turn, Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu joined Sunday’s protest. On his social media, he tagged Kejriwal and stated: “Practice what you preach.”

Shoaib Rana, who has been working as a guest teacher in since 2011, said: “We are raising the same demand which has been there since 2017. We want the 2017 guest teacher regularisation bill to be implemented and want a policy of ‘same work-same pay’ till that is done. A promise of regularisation had been made to us 7 years ago and the government has not completed that till now, but they’re saying that they’ll do it in Punjab. Our message is that they should get it done here first before making these promises elsewhere.”

According to estimates by the All-India Guest Teachers’ Association, around 22,000 guest teachers are working in Delhi government schools. In 2020-2021, there were a total of 66,938 sanctioned posts for teachers in these schools.

Many guest teachers in government schools have been working in that capacity for well over seven years now. While teacher recruitment has been happening in phases in the last few years, these guest teachers have been asking for direct regularisation citing fewer post advertisements than their numbers and unequal competition.

“9,500 new teachers will be recruited through DSSSB’s exams early next year. That means 9,500 guest teachers will become unemployed,” said Govind Singh, who has been working as a guest teacher since 2012.

Asked if guest teachers cannot qualify for regular posts through this route, he said, “We have been working full time in these schools for years. Our workload has increased in the last couple of years, while freshers have a single focus to prepare for these exams. There is no additional weightage given to our experience. We can’t compete with the newcomers,” said the 39-year-old teacher who has also crossed the maximum age to appear for these exams.

He also said the number of posts for which exams are conducted is far fewer than their numbers: “I am a PGT commerce teacher and there are 328 such teachers across schools. The DSSSB has advertised 126 posts for recruitment.”

In 2018, DSSSB had held exams against 9,556 vacancies. It had submitted before the Delhi HC that 77% of contract teachers of that time had not achieved minimum qualifying marks in these exams.

In 2015, AAP had made regularisation of guest teachers one of their poll promises. In 2017, the Delhi government had passed the Regularisation of Guest Teachers and Teachers Engaged Under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Bill in the Assembly, but this was not approved by the L-G, who said the government does not have control over ‘services’.

In 2019, contractual teachers launched a massive protest demanding a policy offering them security. Following this, the Delhi Cabinet, in an emergency meeting, decided to adopt a policy under which current guest teachers were to “continue to function with DoE till they attain age of superannuation as determined by government for its regular teachers” — which is 60 in Delhi. This did not get the L-G’s nod either.

Delhi government officials did not respond to calls and messages seeking a comment. Officials from the L-G office could not be reached for comment.

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