Staff from schools for disabled kids protest against government apathy in Kerala
Caregiving and reaching out to a child is not an easy task. It requires oodles of patience, courage and empathy. This is the case even more so with a child with a disability.
However, teachers and support staff at schools for disabled children dont get the appreciation they deserve, and this is especially seen in government-run schools. They are paid meagre salaries and their demands go to unheard.
Fed up of this, over 4,000 teachers, special educators, parents and staffs members from schools for disabled children in Kerala marched towards the state assembly on to protest against the government's apathy towards them.
There are over 300 schools for disabled children across Kerala. The previous Kerala government under the UDF had sanctioned and delivered Rs 15 crore to all the schools but the present government has cut the budget down to Rs 13 crore.
This has cut them deep given that the number of schools has risem and they are struggling to function. The insensitivity of the Kerala government towards the needs of schools for disabled children is being heavily criticised.
Disabled children have the right to a free education until 18 years of age. But our kids have to pay for this. When teachers and staff members from regular schools are getting paid above Rs 10,000, most of us are paid hardly Rs 4,000 a month. We do not have any government pension or allowances either. Why are our demands going unheard? Isn't that unfair? - Ashique CS, Teacher, Ansar School of Special Education
Protestors have also demanded a package with welfare schemes and pensions.
"There are over 6,000 people working in special schools across Kerala. All these years, we never came out to protest because we cannot leave the children behind at schools. But now we had to come out because we are unable to withstand the government's apathy", says Jayan Narayanan, who is the headmaster of a school in Malappuram.
"Special school staffs are definitely underpaid. Most of them are not even treated with dignity which is very disheartening. In India, we lack good quality teachers and special educators because they are paid very less salaries. So after completing their course in special education, they go abroad for jobs, which us sad", says Seema Lal, a special educator.
If their demands are not accepted by the government, teachers and staff members are all set to go on an indefinite hunger strike from January onwards. Apart from renowned activist Daya Bhai, many politicians from the opposition party also joined the protestors.