Hundreds of part-time special teachers staged a protest on the premises of the Directorate of Public Instruction (DPI) in Nungambakkam demanding that their jobs be made permanent.
The State has over 12,100 part-time teachers working in government schools for eight subjects, including music, art and craft, physical education and computers. The demand to be made permanent had been a long-standing one and the teachers had organised similar protests in the past. Over 16,000 teachers were hired in 2011 and their numbers dwindled, the protesting teachers said.
The teachers who gathered on Thursday said they had several concerns which they hope the government would take note of. Many of them started arriving early in the morning and sat through the day.
“When we were appointed in 2012, we were given a salary of ₹5,000 a month. This was increased by ₹2,000 in 2015. After 11 years, we now get ₹10,000 only. Part-time teachers get paid only for 11 months — we do not get paid in May when schools are shut,” said G. Jayapriya from Tiruvannamalai, who heads the women’s wing of the Tamil Nadu Part Time Special Teachers’ Association.
A music teacher from Chennai, V.T. Guna, said that a major drawback for them was that they were unable to go for any other work given their weekly schedule. “We are engaged only for half a day thrice a week. This schedule is planned by the heads of schools and can vary. Most of us are unable to go for other jobs, and many are old and unable to hunt for other jobs,” she said. Several teachers like her alleged that the lack of job safety as well as respect had taken a mental toll on them.
The practice of calling them for half a day thrice a week needed to change and the part-time teachers said they should be allowed to meet and interact with students more often so that their classes were taken seriously.
Association State president K. Sesuraja said the election manifesto of the DMK promised to make the jobs for special teachers permanent. The services of part-time special teachers had been confirmed in some States, he said demanding the same be adopted in Tamil Nadu as well.
“We have waited for long and now want these promises to be fulfilled. By coming together here, we have appealed to the School Education Department to take this forward, and grant us an appointment with the Chief Minister to hear our concerns,” he said. The teachers were called for a first round of talks by the School Education Department on Thursday afternoon.