Karnataka’s pvt school teachers stage protest in Bengaluru, demand to be paid

The teachers say that they were unpaid and underpaid during the pandemic, forcing them to take up other occupations to stay afloat.
The Teacher's Protest at Maurya Circle
The Teacher's Protest at Maurya Circle
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The teachers of private and unaided schools across Karnataka came to Bengaluru on Wednesday, staging a protest to demand the state government to pay them their salaries. The teachers took out a rally from Maurya Circle to Freedom Park in the city, to get the state government to notice. The teachers were seen pushing vegetable and fruit carts symbolizing their plight, as many teachers were not paid their salaries or were underpaid during the pandemic. The protest was led by Associated Managements of Primary and Secondary Schools in Karnataka.

“We made noodles and sold them [during the lockdown], began making dry fruit packets for sale, sold vegetables and tried to sustain ourselves. Some teachers even began working as domestic workers to stay afloat. The government gave everyone a relief package, but ignored us,” said Ranga Lakshmi, principal and teacher at Basaveshwara High School.

“Managing households and our families became difficult. We not only had to pay rent but also others bill and provide for our children’s education too. I had to take loans to be able to make the ends meet,” added Prasheela, a teacher at Trinity High School.

The teachers put forth their demands while protesting. Primarily, they asked to be provided with the free vaccine in the first phase of vaccination. They also demanded the government to issue a notice on the re-opening of schools, enrollment, payment of fees, attendance, evaluation and finalization of revisions in the curriculum

“We want the state government to provide free medical insurance to the teaching and the non-teaching staff as well as food kits,” said Shashi Kumar, General Secretary of Associated Managements of Primary and Secondary Schools in Karnataka.

Besides teachers, even the management of private and unaided schools are suffering. Recounting her woes, Rama Mani of Trinity High School said that they are struggling to repay loans, and had to pay taxes too, despite little to no collection of fees.

The protesters pointed out that another issue that may soon crop up is a shortage of educators. There has been a rise in the efflux of teachers since the pandemic, as schools remained shut and management had exhausted their funds. “There will be a shortage of teachers after a while since many have already left their jobs and vow to never return,” added Lakshmi.

Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai and Revenue Minister R Ashok, on the Chief Minister’s orders, visited the protest site on Wednesday and assured the teachers that they will pay heed to their demands and promptly help them. They requested the teachers to call off their strike. 

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