An increasing number of teachers and lectures in private institutions are exchanging the tools of their trade — the traditional chalk and duster — with paintbrushes, shovels, and weighing scales to make ends meet. While some have had no choice as they have been rendered unemployed on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, others have had to make do with sharp pay cuts.
Many continue to teach online, but are only paid by the hour and are finding it difficult to sustain their livelihood. As a result, teachers are working in farms, selling vegetables on the street, and becoming painters.School managements say they are unable to collect school fees and are left with no money to pay salaries.
Teachers who normally do not have high salaries also did not have savings to fall back on. Sudha Srinivas, a mathematics teacher in a Bengaluru school, said she started making food products over the past few weeks as she had to take a steep cut in her salary. “From May to July, we were paid 50% of our salary, but now we are being paid 25%,” she said.
Her priority, however, still remains her online classes. “I conduct online classes and the management has told me that they will pay us by the hour but cannot guarantee us when the payment is made. So I look at my daily schedule, finish my online classes and then start making food products such as rasam powder and other masalas,” she said.
This Teachers’ Day, her heart is full of remorse. Ms. Srinivas chose this profession as she wanted to influence and nurture a generation of students. “The profession has given us so much love and respect, but that alone cannot fill our stomach,” she said.
Also read:When screens replace classrooms...
Some teachers, however, have decided to give up this profession. Mohan M., a physical education teacher in a private school in Devanahalli town, Bengaluru Rural, who had been in the profession for 12 years, now finds himself working as a painter. “I will never return to the school again. Over the last few months, I have felt extremely dejected about my profession. I joined this profession to give it my all and at a time when I needed it the most, it failed me. This pandemic has been an eye-opener,” he said.
Having trained students who are now State- and national-level sportspersons, he said that although it pains him to leave the profession, he had to look at other means to support his family. “I get ₹300 a day as a painter. If someone pays me more, I am even ready to become a sweeper,” he said.
Also read: Teachers to observe ‘Black Day’
Arun Kumar M., who has been working as a lecturer in a private first-grade college in Davangere, has put up a mobile vegetable shop at Vidya Nagar in Davangere city. He set up his shop two months ago and now he earns ₹300 to ₹400 a day after working nearly 10 hours. A postgraduate in Commerce, he taught at Chanakya First Grade College as a guest faculty where he earned around ₹10,000 a month. He took private tuitions and was also running his computer institute, where he taught a few courses for beginners. “I was earning up to ₹50,000 a month from all sources and that was more than sufficient for my family. But with the lockdown, everything shut down,” he said.
“A few days after I opened the shop, a couple of my students visited me. I told them my story and they became my regular customers. They campaigned for my shop in the locality,” he said and added that he hopes to return to the college from October.
Shivalingappa Ramangouda, a teacher from Melkundi village in Kalaburagi taluk, was teaching English in a private school and earned ₹8,000 a month. As his school is closed, he has become an agricultural labourer and depends on daily wages to make ends meet.
(With inputs from Tanu Kulkarni in Bengaluru, Sathish G.T. in Hassan, and Praveen B. Para in Kalaburagi)