New Delhi. The teachers are the backbone of a healthy, responsible, and resilient education system. Therefore, teachers have been given the most respectful position in every society. But the educators’ community is under severe stress today, more so in India’s vibrant private schools. The sudden outbreak of pandemic and the lockdown caused economic crisis resulting in loss of job for millions. Fearing the learning deficit and school premise being non-operational, schools turned to online education. While schools have taken up the challenge and are trying to ensure that the teaching/learning exercise continues, they are facing another challenge too. Some of the parents under financial stress couldn’t pay the school fee. Following the suite, many others too stopped paying school fee. According to the survey conducted by the National Independent Schools Alliance (NISA) in 3690 schools in 22 state of the country, only 38% parents of the total 16,58367 students had paid the school fee. Parents of only 26% of students out of 45682 students in 89 schools in Delhi had paid the fee in the last 3 months. Similarly, only parents of only 19% out of 3,46,897 students from 745 surveyed schools in Haryana have paid school fee. The financial crisis of schools has led to cost cutting, job loss, reduced/delayed payment, suicide by educators and school closures.
In this regardthe largest congregation of budget private schools in India, National Independent Schools Alliance (NISA), with 42 state private school associations had appealed teachers in private schools to share their problems on social media on ‘Teachers’ Day’. The appeal received wider support and more than 30 thousands post was made on Twitter alone. The key words ‘SaveOurSchoolEducators’ used by the teachers was even one of the top trends during the day.
On asking the reasons for conducting this mass exercise on Teachers’ Day, Shri Kulbhushan Sharma, National President of NISA said, “The pandemic has caused huge damage to the entire private school eco-system, specifically the budget private schools. Many schools are closing down and teachers are jobless. School managers at places have committed suicide. We had written to the honorable Prime Minister a month ago with all the problems seeking relief but received no response. Therefore, we decided to ask all our teachers to express their problems on social media to get the attention of the Prime Minister. Teachers’ associated with us are unable to celebrate Teachers’ Day. We demand the government to pay Rs 30,000/- per student per year to the parents in form of a digital voucher so that parents in the financial crisis could pay the fee to the schools. Government must also pay our teachers salary for the period of lockdown. Many of our member state association also observed the day as Black Day”.
Shri S. Madhusudan, vice-president of NISA who has a budget private school in Hyderabad said “We marked the day as ‘Gurudakshina’ requesting the state government to pay salary of the teachers. It is not appropriate to celebrate the Teachers’ Day when the entire education fraternity is in so much pain. India already lacks competent and inspiring teachers, if the already existing teachers turn their back to the job of educating, the society will get into irreversible damage.”
Thomas Antony, the coordinator of the campaign said, “While teachers’ day is the day to recognize the role and contribution of the educator community with pomp and show, many educators this teachers’ day are in financial stress, mental agony and unsure of the future.”
NISA launched the nation-wide 51-day long Save Education Campaign on 29 July and have been conducting activities through digital platforms in different states to sensitize masses