Ministry delays releasing pittance of a salary by three months

Crèches under the Rajiv Gandhi National Creche Scheme in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts are facing closure, though not because of lack of children. Teachers and helpers — the pillars of the crèches — are not a happy lot.

Teachers from both the districts told The Hindu that their salaries are delayed by three or four months. They also complained that the helpers and teachers are not adequately paid for the work they do. The allowance given by the scheme for food for each child is also woefully insufficient, they said.

The government gives Rs. 1,250 for a teacher and Rs. 750 for a helper every month.

Sundari and Shanthi, co-ordinators from Dakshina Kannada and Udupi respectively, said the salary do not arrive on time.

Vasudev Kamath, president, Dakshina Kannada Council for Child Welfare (DKCCW) said that when a crèche closes, the impact is double. One child stays back at home, plus, an older sibling, too, has to stay back to look after him or her as both parents go to work.

Since the pay is low, the DKCCW pays the teacher and the helper an additional Rs. 500 from funds raised through donations. (They were paid that amount at Prajna Counselling Centre in the city on Tuesday.) However, it is only an honorarium to pacify them and keep them motivated, said Ms. Sundari and Ms. Shanthi.

Mr. Kamath said there were more children in crèches than in anganwadis because crèches take children as young as one-year-old and they do not have academic years as in anganwadis. There are 15 crèches in Udupi and 15 in Dakshina Kannada, each with 15 to 20 children.

Hilda Rayappan, the founder-president and now member, DKCCW, said that the teachers and helpers want to continue working with the crèches with people’s help and did not want to close them. Besides, they got a sense of satisfaction from their work other than being attached to the children. “They feel recognized, respected for their work.”

Rayappan Thilaka, Secretary, DKCCW, said that the food allowance for each child is Rs. 2.08 per day, which is insufficient. Teachers have to pitch in and that is difficult as they are themselves struggling with low salary, she said.

Meanwhile, a letter from the Karnataka State Council for Child Welfare shows it has thrown up its hands in despair over the delay in getting the grant from the government. The letter, addressed to all the district councils, says “The grants are not released by the Ministry, in spite of continuous efforts”.

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