A long wait for temporary teachers
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Nisar Ahmad Dar wants to marry but his salary is coming in the way. A postgraduate in economics with a bachelor's in education, Dar teaches at Government Girls Middle School in Mohanpora village of Budgam in central Kashmir. His qualifications are on a par and, in some cases, even better than his fellow teachers. But in a whole year, he makes less than what his colleagues do in a month.
Dar, 27, is a Rehbar-e-Taleem (ReT) and is paid just Rs 1,500 a month by the government. "I dread to think of marriage. It is not possible at least for another three years," he says. "It is difficult to survive on this meagre salary. Even today, I am dependent on my father for my daily needs. How will I marry in these circumstances?"
The scheme Rehbar-e-Taleem, a name given to teachers appointed on a temporary basis for five years, was introduced by the state government in 2000. When the unemployment numbers went up, the government came up with the idea of Rehbar-e-Taleem to offer some relief to the angry youth of the state. This experiment was later replicated in other departments too. Today, the state has Rehbar-e-Sehat in the health department, Rehbar-e-Zirat in agriculture and Rehbar-e-Taleem in Education. In ReT, the teachers are paid a consolidated pay for five years without the benefits enjoyed by government employees. And after serving for five years, they are made permanent and their salary brought on a par with that of regular teachers.
Born into a middle-class family at Mohanpora, Dar studied at a reputed private school in his town. For higher education, he shifted to Srinagar and completed his Bachelor's in Science from Amar Singh College. In 2008, he did his postgraduation in economics from the University of Kashmir. He also has a bachelor's degree in education. After passing out from the university, he applied for many jobs, before a post of Rehbar-e-Taleem was advertised in his village. Without a job in hand, Dar was hard pressed and applied for the post with a hope that he would become a permanent teacher after five years. In 2009, Dar was selected for the post but as he joined the school, a new reality dawned on him—he may have equal or better qualification than his colleagues but he is not like them. His salary, and not his qualification, determined his place in the school.
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