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Karnataka: Over 40,000 private school teachers lose job amid coronavirus crisis

Bengaluru: The financial stability as a consequence of the coronavirus-induced lockdown has led to more than 40,000 private school teachers losing their jobs across Karnataka.

Among the worst hit are the pre-nursery and primary schools, where no new admission has taken place. In pre-nursery schools, the government has banned online classes as well.  

“We have budget schools which charge somewhere between Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000 per year and give quality education. In this lockdown, over 25 per cent of the parents have not cleared the last year’s fees. Even though the government has asked the schools to collect tuition fees, not even 2-3 per cent  parents have come forward to pay the fees,” D Shashikumar , general secretary of Karnataka Associated Management of English Medium Schools (KAMS), stated.

While the situation is worse in budget schools, a few premium schools, too, have slashed teacher salaries by 30 to 50 per cent. This, despite these premier schools having already collected the fees.  

“Both the teaching and non-teaching staff were paid from the school’s reserves for the first three months after the lockdown but how long can one continue without the government’s aid? We demanded the government to lend a loan Rs 1,000 crore or provide the remuneration for the teachers. All the while the government did not bother to spend much on the noble profession,” Shashikumar lamented.

In Karnataka, over 54.5 lakh students are enrolled in private schools while 8 lakh students are with the government schools.

Several teachers have found themselves in an unusual situation after classes went online recently. While many managed to teach, non payment of salary has sullied their efforts.

“It is not easy to take classes online. We have not done it before. A lot of effort goes into it and the end of the day we do not get paid. My school is owned by a powerful politician and despite collecting fees from the students our salary was slashed by 30 percent in the month of May. Moreover, we are risking our lives by going to the schools to take classes when there are no students turning up. If nothing we expect dignity from the management, schools and the parents” a school teacher on the condition of anonymity told the Deccan Chronicle.

In one instance of schools being reluctant to pay full salaries to teachers, a private school teacher was told by the management that she would have to let go of her increment as her techie husband also earns a salary.

Commenting over the issue, S R Umashankar, principal secretary to the government, primary and secondary education has said that the government is aware of the situation and is trying to find a solution.

The principal of SSMRV PU college, Vasanthalakshmi, said that while her school has done every arrangement of online classes, teachers have been reluctant to come before the camera.

“The cameras are placed in the classes and the editing is done by the computer department. The teachers are just asked to take the classes but initially they did face issues,” she remarked.

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