“After working for nine years, I finally received my first salary,” said a mathematics teacher at an aided school in the city. The 43-year-old with B.Sc. Mathematics and B.Ed. degrees was appointed at the newly upgraded school in 2004 and she has been teaching there ever since. It took nine years and two court orders for the school management to stop making excuses and start paying her for her work. As directed by the High Court, she has now received dues for the last four years.

Soon after she joined the school, the management promised to start paying her once her appointment was cleared by the Education Department. The department cancelled her appointment saying a protected teacher had to be appointed in the vacancy. Ignoring the order, the school continued to employ her while promising that her post would be cleared soon. After she obtained a High Court order asking the management to pay her three years’ salary, the management fudged school records to deny her the pay and to accommodate a relative of the school manager. “I have lost the money owed to me for the first four years of my work. What is worse is that my experience has come to nothing. After nine years, I’m still on leave vacancy,” she said.

She is one of the many teachers short-changed by aided school managements. Despite the poor pay offered by aided school managements, applicants queue up for a teacher’s post due to the social standing that is part of the job. Many school managements exploit the demand and sell the teacher’s job to the highest bidder.

A teacher in an aided school said she had been offered a teaching job in a city school when she went to admit her child to the kindergarten. “They said I had the qualification and I could get the job if I paid Rs.1 lakh. They promised me Rs.5,000 a month initially,” she said. After a few months, the management simply stopped paying her and she quit the job. Aided school teachers are under the payroll of the State government. Managements recruit teachers to show on record that they have the necessary staff strength. They then fudge records to keep teachers underpaid and appropriate the government funds.

A teacher of another aided school said, on the condition of anonymity, that her school management made her sign for a cheque for Rs.15,000 every month. “The management transfers the money to its account and pays me only Rs.3,500 a month,” she said.

But why continue at such a job? “It’s a respectable job and I am able to contribute at least something to the family income. It’s better than nothing,” she said.

While aided school managements recruit teachers without looking at their qualifications, what suffers is the quality of education imparted to students.

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