Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has terminated the services of a Thane-based institute running skill development courses in the state's schools after it failed to pay the salaries of its teachers for several months. The state has also initiated disciplinary action against another institute from Noida over pending salary dues.
The two vocational training providers (VTP) were hired to teach various skill-based subjects in government-run and private aided schools as part of the centrally-sponsored Samagra Shiksha scheme. The action came last week after teachers from across the state protested against them.
There are currently 18 VTPs teaching a number of vocational subjects to students from classes 9 to 12 in 646 schools across the state, including 50 in Mumbai. These institutes employ around 1,200 contractual teachers, who are paid a fixed monthly salary of Rs. 20,000.
"The VTPs are required to pay these teachers. The government reimburses them for their expenses every three months, while giving them an additional 15% amount for their services. These companies haven't paid the trainers on their rolls for the last three months. It seems that they don't have the financial capacity to carry out the scheme," said Kailash Pagare, State Project Director, Samagra Shiksha.
The vocational education scheme, started in Maharashtra in 2015, seeks to integrate skill training with general academic education and provide employment opportunities to students in various sectors. The scheme covers 88 job roles in 22 sectors, including agriculture, banking finance and insurance services (BFSI), beauty and wellness, construction, healthcare, information technology, food industry and physical education.
The National Skill Development Corporation has enlisted a number of private entities to provide training in various sectors. The states hire institutes from this list according to their requirement.
For the past several months, Maharashtra's vocational teachers have been voicing against what their exploitation at the hands of private VTPs. Last month, they had staged an agitation at the city's Azad Maidan, pressing the government to meet their various demands. Despite the action against the two institutes, they remain dissatisfied.
"The action was taken only after the teachers staged a protest. Sacking only two institutes won't achieve anything when most of them are known to delay salaries to teachers.As of now, one company hasn't cleared salary dues for five months, while two of them haven't paid us for the last three months," said Shobharaj Khonde, President, of Vocational Teachers Association - Maharashtra State.
The teachers have been asking the state to run the vocational education programme on its own, as they believe that the private entities are simply profiting off of the scheme without providing adequate services. They are also demanding permanent employment and a hike in their salaries.
The government has so far refused to heed any of these demands. "The scheme has been designed by the central government. If the teachers are not satisfied with it, they can quit," said Pagare.
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