Published: 03rd June 2022
Why is an award-winning Kerala teacher now a sweeper in schools? And why 344 others might be next
At least 50 of them started working as sweepers on Wednesday putting behind their teacher’s role. Most of the others are expected to take over their new role once they get their appointment orders
Even as the schools reopened in the state on Wednesday, June 1, a group of teachers took up a new role with trepidation — as part-time or full-time sweepers. They were among the 344 single teachers who had been rendered invaluable service in 272 Multi Grade Learning Centres (MGLC) in tribal areas. They lost their jobs after these centres were shut down by the government on March 31.
At least 50 of them started working as sweepers on Wednesday putting behind their teacher’s role. Most of the others are expected to take over their new role once they get their appointment orders in the coming days. When TNIE went to the 1908-founded PSNM Government Higher Secondary School, Peroorkada, Thiruvananthapuram, to meet the national award-winning teacher K R Usha Kumari, she was in tears. On reaching her new school, she looked for broom, mop and floor scrubber to clean the school premises including toilets.
With tears rolling down her face, Usha Kumari said, “May be, it’s my fate. Two months ago, when I was teaching tribal students at the MGLC at Kunnathumala on Amboori hilltop, I was holding chalk and duster. After submitting the joining letter, I located the cleaning stuff first in the office room.”
Though 54-year-old Usha Kumari doesn’t mind taking up the broom, her family doesn’t think so. With more than a dozen state and national awards in her kitty for the best teacher providing education to tribal students at the MGLC in Kunnanthumala for the last 23 years, she has just six more years left in government service.
“My children have been urging me not to take up the sweeper role. But I don’t have any qualms as I wish to be on my own feet. My only request to the state government is to give us a full pension (20 years of service required) and also change our designation to senior assistant. Despite putting in 23 years in service as an MGLC single teacher, they will consider only my current role as sweeper grade for six years,” added Usha Kumari.
The only solace Usha Kumari has is that from the earlier salary of Rs 19,000 per month, her sweeper grade salary is between Rs 23,000 and Rs 50,200. Not just Usha Kumari, 14 others who taught in various MGLCs in the Thiruvananthapuram district have also joined government schools in Attingal, Varkala and Kilimanoor as sweepers.
A senior general education department official confirmed to TNIE that the single teachers, except for 27 MGLCs, have been asked to work as part-time or full-time sweepers following their consent. “They will be appointed as per vacancies in their respective districts depending on their seniority. The properties in the respective MGLCs which have been closed down will be shifted to the nearest government school under the direction of the sub-district education officer,” said the official.