Teacher to jalebi seller – Disabled guest teachers in Delhi struggle for survival
Disabled guest teachers in schools run by the Delhi Cantonment Board and municipal corporations in the national capital are struggling to make ends meet. Their contracts have not been renewed and they say the coronavirus lockdown and their disability makes it hard for them to seek alternative employment.
A guest teacher at a Delhi municipal corporation school for nearly 18 years, 40-year-old Abdul Qadir has been jobless since 8 May. His contract was not renewed forcing his father of two to move back to his hometown Siwan in Bihar.
“I used to earn a monthly salary of ₹ 40,000 and support my two kids and wife. I cannot survive in Delhi with no earnings. At least here I have some family support to lean on”, says Abdul.
Abdul, who has an 80% locomotor disability, says he is unable to take up any job. In desperation he has started selling samosas and jalebis to support his family and took to Twitter to share his story.
@drsitu @DPI_Info @ncpedp_india @socialjurist @RTEForum_India @JFA_INDIA @drag_org @DPI_Info @BCANDS1 @DPASG @EqualsCPSJ @NewzHook @editorpush4611 @Iftikharfariha @kainisms @singhpiya735 @anamikasingh358 @ManBtt @manashTOI @shamsuddin15 @munazzashams220 @rttanweer2 @AIGTA2011 pic.twitter.com/vV3D4HfhDd
— Abdul Qadir (@AbdulQa78839531) July 25, 2020
In the video, Abdul ca be seen frying jalebis and talking about how there are many qualified guest teachers like him in a desperate situation.
Disabled teachers struggle to find alternative jobs
There are over 3,000 teachers employed on a contract basis across the Delhi municipal corporations’ schools. Over 150 of them are disabled and their plight, says Roshan Tanvir, Vice President, Contract Teachers Welfare Association, is especially grim. Tanvir says he has taken the matter up with higher level authorities, right up to the Delhi Lieutenant Governor.
This is clearly a tactic by the administration to save money at the cost of students’ welfare. These contract teachers teach students across sections and are needed. Now the students are losing out. Those responsible are passing the buck and blame lack of funds. No one wants to take responsibility. – Roshan Tanvir, Vice President, Contract Teachers Welfare Association
Among those affected is Gurjeet Kaur, a wheelchair user, who taught at the primary level until May. “She needs special medication, diet and physiotherapy due to her condition”, says her mother Charanjeet Kaur. “She used to earn ₹ 34,000 which was barely enough. Now even that has stopped”.
Gurjeet’s father lost his job after the lockdown and the family has not been able to pay the rent for the last two months. “We are borrowing from relatives to make ends meet”, says Charanjeet. “I have two younger children who are studying. There are so many expenses and no income. How can I look after Charanjeet’s needs?”.
Lack of funds given as reason
The plight of those with disabilities, says Abdul, is especially worse. “If I was not disabled, I would have done any other job. I can’t even take tuitions due to social distancing fears”.
Under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act 2016 there are clear guidelines that measures should be taken to protect the community. The coronavirus pandemic has left people with disabilities especially vulnerable and they need all the support the government can provide. The irony is that this is the situation with teachers in a state where the ruling party Aam Aadmi Party takes pride in the achievements of the government school system under its leadership. This apathy towards teachers, who are a large part of the success story, is unforgiveable.
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