Anganwadi workers in the state are up in arms against the government’s decision to start pre-nursery classes in its schools from next session. They fear they may lose their jobs if the proposal is implemented. Fifty-five-year-old Pardeep Kaur started serving her aanganwari around 33 years ago. On Monday, she was among the 500 workers protesting outside state minister Bikram Singh Majithia’s house in Amritsar.
“I had started with a salary of Rs 40. Now I am getting Rs 2,800. They now want to rob me of my livelihood by snatching my job,” said Pardeep.
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President of the aanganwari union Amritsar Gurminder Kaur said, “Around 52,000 people stand to lose their jobs if the government goes ahead. Two such classes were started in Tarn Taran district. We protested and forced the administration to shut classes.”
In his statement last year, education minister Daljit Singh Cheema had said aanganwari workers would be trained for these classes.
Kaur, however, said government planned to recruit new teachers at a salary of Rs 3,000 per month for these classes.
“The government is afraid of low admission in primary schools. They think numbers will increase if they started enrolling children from age of three. The strength in government schools is not going to increase until they improve quality. Only poor send their children to aanganwari centers and government schools.”
Anaganwari workers had surprised police on Monday by managing to reach Majitha’s house and blocking his front gate. Police came to know of it only after the dharna started. It forced Majithia to call to the leadership of anganwari workers for talks on November 8. The protesters left after this assurance.