SIVASAGAR, Aug 18 - Young and energetic Indrani (name changed) is a computer teacher at a Sivasagar school who has been teaching school children the basics of what the student community will need to survive in the digital world of tomorrow. She was appointed under Banikanta Kakati Computer Literacy Programme (BKCLP) by a Rajasthan-based company Alpiers Technology Pvt Ltd (ATPL). Her monthly salary is only Rs 7442, less than a daily wage earners� income while the other assistant teachers in the same school draw Rs 40 -50,000 on an average. Even that salary is not regular.
She told this correspondent that she has not received her salary for the last five months. She has to look after her family of four as her husband is jobless. Other than barely paying for the monthly grocery bill, the family cannot afford to do anything else. Without the sympathetic gesture of friends and other family members, eking out a living in these days of soaring price rise has become a harrowing ordeal for Indrani. Like Indrani, 500 other computer teachers in Assam are in dire straits but the State government does not have the time to look into their plight in the COVID-19 induced lockdown and even now.
Pankaj Bhunya, president, All Assam Alpiers Central Computer Teachers� Association said over phone recently that computer teachers have to take up additional classes meant for regular teachers as there is severe shortage of graduate teachers in every school. Computer teachers are also engaged in election duties, Census duties and now in COVID-19 duties. They have been rendering their services with utmost sincerity despite being given just a pittance only in the hope that the State government would listen to their prayers sympathetically and enhance their salaries so that they can live with dignity like the rest of the teachers,� he added. Bhunya said that their salary is actually Rs 10,000, but they are given Rs 7442 after some deductions but when they demand a pay slip with detailed break-up of their salaries, they are refused.
In the wake of urgency for computer literacy, Rajiv Gandhi Computer Literacy Programme was launched in the State in 2004 which ended in 2012. Altogether, 3170 computer teachers were appointed on a contractual basis in five phases in more than 1500 schools in the State and were paid Rs1,501 pm initially which was later hiked to Rs 2735 pm. Initially, the project was run by NIIT and at the end of the project the teachers were summarily discharged in phases from 2014 to 2017. But due to an agitation, the then Education Minister Sarat Borkotoky extended their services for only three months for a section of them and raised their salary to Rs 10,000. But at the end of the three-month period, they were again put in the dark.
The Rashtriya Madhyamik Siksha Abhijan Mission continued the programme under two schemes. Those who had university degrees were clubbed under BKCLP and those not having university degrees were put under ATPL. Now there are over 500 computer teachers in the State under Alpiers Ltd.
Computer teachers have been agitating for a reasonable salary for over a decade now but the government has not shown any sympathy, they allege. They have written to the Prime Minister of India, the Chief Minister and the Education Minister of the State, but no sign of any hope has been seen as yet.