STATE Primary Education Minister Vinod Tawde on Sunday said that the government would not relent on the school teachers’ demand that pay-scale upgradation should be de-linked from school performance on National Standards and Evaluation (Shaala Siddhi) Programme index, a decision taken last November. Tawde, however, said that his department is actively considering the another important demand of ‘additional online work’ that the schools are required to do by carrying out an audit of the processes and see how the issue can be addressed.
Tawde, who was in the city to participate in an event organised to commemorate late theatre and film actor Sadashiv Amrapurkar, spoke to reporters on various issues including those concerning school education, sports, funds to literary and theatre festivals and academic issues in Savitribai Phule Pune University.
Tawde said the government has taken note of the protests held by various teachers’ associations across the state but said that being the education minister, he was more committed to the welfare of students than that of teachers.
“I’m a shikshan mantri, not a shikshak mantri,” said Tawde and pointed out how linking of pay-scale upgradation of teachers, which happens after 12 years and 24 years of service with performance of the school on Shaala Siddhi scale was important to provide an incentive to schools that are still lagging behind.
“The GR passed on November 23, 2016 is not about the annual appraisals of teachers. It is only about the special pay-scale hike that happens after 12 and 24 years of service. There’s nothing wrong if the government expects that the school has to have a minimal quality of education if the teachers there want to avail of special pay hikes,” said Tawde. He also added that of the 66,000 schools in the state, about 34,200 already meet the criteria and fall under the ‘A’ category under Shaala Siddhi and hence the teachers there are eligible for pay-scale upgradation.
Tawde said the complaints about additional ‘online work’ that the school staff is required to do in connection with various schemes related to students, he has ordered a special audit to find out how much is such work and how it could be alleviated.
“A separate audit has been ordered where the committee will meet teachers and principals to find out how much additional work load has been created due to the linking of students accounts, filling up of data for various records as well as schemes. I am expecting to get the report within eight to 10 days and will then take measures to reduce the work,” said Tawde.
Primary and secondary school teachers in the state are up in the arms since the the GR linking pay-scale upgradation with school performance was introduced in November 2016. They are arguing that it is unfair to judge a teacher’s performance from how the entire school is performing and from the infrastructure availability of the school over which the individual may have no control. They have also claimed that the new rules were against the existing Secondary Service Code which guarantees a high pay scale after an experience of 12 and 24 years.
Tawde said that other demands such as bringing back the old pension scheme and making transfer rules more convenient were not linked to the Education department and that they were being considered by concerned sections. “The pension scheme, which was in place before 2005, was changed by the then government for all state government employees not only for the teachers. There’s also a case going on in the High Court about this. It will be decided by the state government and the Finance Ministry and not by the Education department,” said Tawde. He said that the Rural Development department, under whose ambit the transfers of Zilla Parishad schools fall, have created an online portal to manage the transfers, which will being more transparency.