The Meghalaya SSA School Association (MSSASA) has served the state government two weeks to realise their demands over salaries and regularisation of service, failing which it will approach the Meghalaya High Court.
The SSA teachers also demanded that Chief Minister Conrad Sangma come out with facts and figures to justify his statement related to the pending salaries of 12,541 SSA teachers and their regularisation.
Recently, Sangma said that all states in the country are facing a problem in paying SSA teachers because of delays in transferring the funds from the Centre; Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is a central government programme.
Sangma also said that regularising the contract teachers would only be possible if the Centre directs and commits to meeting the extra expenses this would incur.
Addressing the media today, MSSASA president Aristotle C Rymbai mocked the government’s claim to poverty by pointing out that it was still able to host big money festivals, such as the upcoming Cherry Blossom Festival. “Instead of organising these festivals they can pay our SSA teachers’ salaries if education is really a priority,” he added.
In 2018, after the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan scheme was implemented, it was spelled out that the central government will contribute Rs 15,000 per month for lower primary SSA teachers and Rs 20,000 per month for upper primary SSA teachers. In Meghalaya, however, the former are paid Rs 19,044 a month and the latter Rs 20,493, with the difference to be made up by the state government.
Rymbai said that the state government has not released its share for the past three years, amounting to Rs 104 crore, to the State Education Mission Authority of Meghalaya (SEMAM), which oversees the SSA programme in the state. Rymbai also said that he had been informed by the Education Minister and State Project Director that the first instalment from the Centre amounting to Rs 59 crore has been received.
“Why has the state government not released this amount so the State Project Director will be in the position to realize the SSA teachers’ pending five months’ salaries in one go?” he asked.
Rymbai also described the CM as being in denial of the facts when the ‘Revised Programmatic and Financial Norms’ of the SSA programme, as spelled out in a letter in August this year, said that “support for the salary of teachers will be provided to the states as a lump sum grant and not based on the number of teachers”, which makes it clear, to MSSASA, that the additional amount is to be borne by state government.
He also said that while other states may have also experienced delays in receiving funds from the Centre, they have dipped into their own pockets to pay the teachers, Rymbai asserted, but Meghalaya has not.