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SRINAGAR: With no check from the government Education Department on the functioning of private schools, the private schools enjoy criteria for selection and wages of teachers as per their own sweet will, taking heavy toll on teachers in the sector. Thousands of private schools running in Kashmir valley have been given a free hand by the state government as they hardly obey the Minimum Wages Act or eligibility criteria for recruitment of teachers. 

Many believe that it hardly matters for a private school whether the candidate is an undergraduate, graduate or postgraduate. It only negotiates salary and does not even pay the minimum wages as prescribed by the state government under the Minimum Wages Act. Under the Minimum Wages Act, the state government guarantees Rs 225, Rs 200, Rs 175 and Rs 150 per day for skilled, accounts, semi-skilled and unskilled workers, respectively. 

Teachers of private schools in Kashmir, who play an important role in building the future of the society, do not get even Rs 100 per day (majority of teachers). They said that the government should come out with screening of private schools and the salaries of teachers should be fixed. The crisis is affecting their lives as well as the educational system, said one of a teacher working in private school in Srinagar city. 

They alleged that the schools are exploiting highly qualified unemployed youth of the state by hiring them on low wages. The said that the parents of students are charged thousands in the name of education, co-curricular activities and highly qualified teachers, but teachers backbone of a school are paid poor salary which cause depression among private school teachers. Saima a private teacher said, “I have master’s degrees in education, but my school pays only Rs 6,000 for teaching students of Classes XI XII”. 

She further added that if they ask for increment, they will be shown door and a new teacher would be appointed on lower salary. Banish (name changed) has been associated with a schools of Kashmir since the past eight years. She started with a meager salary of Rs. 2500 per month and over the past eight years there has been a shamefully low hike of Rs. 2700 in her salary. “The stress on the teachers is backbreaking and the salary highly inadequate”, she said. 

A group of teachers told PTK that they never get our salaries on time. They said that the owners of these private schools feel that they are not answerable to anyone. “There is no one to keep a check on the functioning of these private schools”, they added. Many teachers of private schools have been looking after their families with a salary of Rs 4,000 per month. The Education Department has no check on the recruitment and wage system of private schools. 

However sources in the education department said that Private schools have their own criteria to recruit teachers and the department does not intervene.’ However official told Press Trust of Kashmir that Labour and Employment Department does not check the wage policy of private schools. It claims that action is taken against a school whenever a complaint is received.