It was a matter of pride for All India Primary Teachers’ Federation which turned 60 in 2015 organised its 27th Biennial conference at Neelkantha Convention Grounds, Bangalore, Karnataka on 19-20 December 2015 hosted by Karnataka Primary School Teachers’ Association- one of the strong state affiliate of AIPTF. The theme and sub-themes of the conference were:
“Sustainable Development through Quality Education for All”
The sub themes of the conference are:—
- Better Education for Better India
- Swachh Vidyalaya – Swachh Bharat through Value Education
- Privatization and Commercialization of School Education
In this conference union leaders from USA, eminent educationists from different parts of India and more than 50,000 teachers out of this there were at least 22-25% delegates were women and about 40% were the young ,members from different nook and corners of India.
The Conference began with ceremonial flag hoisting, the flags of Education International, AIPTF and KSPSTA besides national flag were flying high. It was inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Karnataka state Mr. Siddharamaiah in traditional manner and welcome song by the school children .In his inaugural address through his well-structured thoughts although in his mother tongue were praised by all the delegates. He shared that the teachers are pivotal in growth and development of nation. He expressed that the efforts of government to attain quality public education can be achieved through cooperation from one and all.
Following the tradition, Mr. Ram Pal Singh in his presidential address highlighted that “achieving the target of 100% literacy and universalization of quality public education for all is not possible for the government alone. All the partners and society has to play a pro-active role to achieve these targets.” Mr. Singh also emphasised that issues like commercialisation of school education, appointment of less or unqualified teachers, shortage of teachers, declining infrastructure and deteriorating quality of education in the public schools, working conditions and teachers on contractual basis, slow pace of implementing the Right to Education Act, 2009etc. are hindrance to achieve the desired results.
“Achieving gender equality, quality public education and equal distribution of resources throughout the world should be our aim” was echoed by Mr. George Sheridan, National Education Associates, USA.
Later, Mr. Kamla Kanta Tripathy presented the Secretary General’s report. He emphasised on the issue of privatization which in his words “is taking place without much resistance in India. The government schools are closing down or are being merged due to declining enrolment in the government schools. The number of private educational institutes at all levels i.e. Elementary, Secondary or Higher levels has been increasing by leaps and bounds. It might be owing to the reform of globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation. Besides, modernisation, westernisation, industrialisation and urbanisation which directly or indirectly boost up the rampant growth of private schools”
He also made an appeal to all the delegates to think about the new goals, new vision and new targets to be achieved by 2030. The Education for All (EFA) Goals and the education-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expired in late 2015. In recent years, the international community was discussing a new development agenda for post-2015 with the aim of eradicating poverty and ensuring sustainable development worldwide. Within these discussions, the fundamental role of education has been reaffirmed, with emphasis on the need to reach the marginalised groups that have been left behind and to ensure an education of good quality for all.
The future priorities of the AIPTF for the next triennium were also decided and the Federation will work on the following:
- Full and properImplementation of Right to Education Act, 2009
- Mainstreaming teachers working on contractual basis
- Involvement of youth in union’s activities
- Ensuring gender equality in decision-making bodies of the union at different level
- Ensuring the implementation of recommendations of Seventh Central Pay Commission
There were educational sessions on both days also in which educationists like Dr. V.P. Niranjanradhya, Prof. Santosh Panda, Chairperson, National Council for Teachers’ Education, national level organization which is imparting, monitoring and regulatory body for teachers’ training throughout the country. The Conference was also graced by the presence of leaders from other unions, national coalition for education and representatives from NGOs and members of the civil society.
There is a trend called “feminization of teaching workforce” at the elementary level especially and women constitute substantial portion of membership of AIPTF also. It has been a customary to have Women’s Caucus also during or prior to the Biennial Conference.
Women caucus was held on 19th December 2015 in Bangalore.The Caucus is being mainly organized to give women more visibility and take stock of the advancement of the women in education, society,union and other spheres of lifefor exchange and sharing of information and ideas. The underlying idea behind organizing caucus is to empower women to give voice to their issues in the organization. It also helps to ensure participation of women at all levels in the organization.
The theme of the Caucus “Better Education For a Better India”. Quality Education is the need of hour. Quality Education must lead womento becomedignified and responsible citizen of the society and professional development, said Ms.Sulabha Donde Chairperson Women’s Network. She also highlighted that Women’s Network is working for promotion of women rights and would continue to support state affiliates in their efforts for empowering women.
Ms. Shashi Bala Singh, Chief Coordinator-EIAPRdelivered the keynote address.She pointed out the difficulties and challenges faced by women teachers in union and society. She stressed on more & more opportunities to be given to women.She She highlighted on girl’seducation, gender discrimination,violence against women and other inequalities which are existing in our society and measures to curb them and cited the example of Malala who is a role model for many of us working for the cause of girls’ education.
The participating states presented their reports about status of women teachers and steps taken by their union with regard to gender equality in their respective states.
AIPTF reaffirms its opposition to violence against women and girls in all its forms. The participants expressed that the women caucus should be conducted for one full day and not a half a day programme.
The conference concluded with a valedictory session. In this session, four leaders from all the regions i.e. North, South, East and West were awarded for their dedicated services in strengthening the AIPTF and for the welfare of teaching community. Presence of Mr. Ananath Kumar, Minister of Chemicals, Government of India was cherished by all the teachers. He showed an exemplary courage and promised his support for the demands of All India Primary Teachers’ Federation. He also said that if needed, he will also join the struggle of primary teachers of India . The General Council of AIPTF, which is the supreme body of AIPTF agreed and passed the following resolutions for our future course of action.
We the delegates of 27th Biennial Conference which was held on 19-20 December 2015 at Bangalore, Karnataka unanimously agreed upon the following resolutions:
- AIPTF demands to Mobilize all stakeholders for Public Quality Education for All
AIPTF appreciates the initiatives taken by various organisations, individuals, state governments and the Central Government in the field of elementary education. But at the same time we feel an urgent need for a movement involving teachers from the grass root to higher levels and different sections of society. Besides government, civil society also bears the responsibility for challenging the governments’ apathy and to give forceful expression to popular aspirations for education.
We, the delegates of 27th Biennial Conference of AIPTF reconfirm that creating and enhancing awareness among parents/guardians and community members about the need and importance of quality education; and build alliances with like-minded organisations which are committed to the quality public education for all.
- AIPTF demands Quality Teachers with Continuous In-Service Education Programmes
Quality education begins with quality teachers. Without quality trained teachers, the goal of quality education for all can hardly be achieved.
The AIPTF demands that all states must ensure that sufficient quality teachers are properly trained and recruited into the teaching service to maintain the quality education. We strongly appeal to all State Governments and Government of India to ensure that concrete efforts are made to appoint only quality trained teachers and simultaneously providing quality training to upgrade their professional skills on a continuing basis.
- We appeal for Sustainable Development Through Quality Education
The AIPTF appeals to the Government of India to promote education as a human right and a public good, promoting teaching as a profession and to provide adequate infrastructure in all government schools with quality teachers.
- We demand to allocate at least 6% GDP for Education
We demand 6% GDP to education and specific funding measures to ensure competitive public education in the light of expanding education investment nationwide. This is because quality education for all is pre-requisite for economic development.
- AIPTF demands to curb the Privatization and Commercialisation of school education and Public Private Partnership in School Education
Public Private Partnership in School Education issue is affecting adversely the achievement of the goal – Quality Public Education for All. This policy of the Central Government is totally anti poor. This is because schools under PPP mode would be out of reach of poor and disadvantaged sections of society.
The AIPTF demands from the Government of India to stop privatization of school education and giving it true commercial character as a market commodity. Keeping good quality education remaining only within the reach of a few riches, millions of poor would be side lined with no education or poor quality education. We strongly demand the Government of India to stop the PPP policy of school education and also to strengthen the Government schools with well qualified teachers and sufficient infrastructure.
- We also demand full and proper implementation of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act-2009 by 2020
The Govt. of India enacted RTE 2009 and made it operational w.e.f. 1st April 2010. The implementation of the Act is not on track. This is because the state Governments have not fulfilled the standards and norms for a school mentioned in the Schedule of the Act. This conference demands the Government to implement RTE with the prescribed time frame i.e. on or before 2020. Each primary/upper primary school should have head-teacher irrespective of the number of students in the school.
- AIPTF demands that New Education Policy which will be formulated by the Government of India soon should be affordable, accessible, flexible and holistic.
The Government of India is in the process of giving final touches to the New National Policy on Education. It should have the following provisions:
- Free and compulsory quality pre-school education for all;
- Equipping government schools with infrastructure and teaching workforce at par with Central schools; and
- Providing appropriate salary and attractive career paths to attract talented individuals to join the teaching profession.
- AIPTF demands setting up of Teachers’ Council
The AIPTF requests all the state governments to set up teachers’ councils in their state comprising teacher union leaders also to continuously improve the standards of teachers and quality of teaching in order to maintain and improve the professional standards. Council should also take measure to increase student’s enrolment and to prevent dropouts. We appeal to the state governments to implement this Council System to improve free and compulsory quality public education for all and for teacher welfare.
- We urge the government to start Pre-primary Education in public schools
Pre-primary education should be bought under education department under RTE Act. We also demand that all children from 03 to 06 years are to be enrolled. To ensure quality education we emphasise quality pre-school education to all. Government should take initiative and ensure all primary schools have pre-primary sector attached to it.
- We demand the appointment of regular teachers only instead of teachers on contractual basis/Para-teachers
The AIPTF 27th Biennial Conference in Bangalore, Karnataka notes that in India the State Governments have not created a single post of regular teacher over the last a few years and are appointing teachers purely on a contractual basis. As a result a number of regular teachers has been decreasing steadily over the last 10 years. AIPTF regrets that less qualified and untrained teachers are increasing day by day. Providing quality education to all children through qualified, trained teachers is gradually becoming a distant dream. We condemn that the deteriorating working conditions and declining quality of education in the country. We urge all the State Governments to stop recruiting under qualified Para-teachers immediately. We request all the state governments to give regular training to existing para-teachers to bring them to the mainstream as regular teachers.
- We demand implementation of VII Central Pay Commission Recommendations for better Service Condition of Teachers
The 7th Pay Commission has submitted its recommendations to Government of India recently. It is unfortunately that many states in India have not yet implemented recommendations of the 6th Pay Commission. Only a few states have implemented the scales of pay of 6thPay Commission. This situation is demoralizing teachers’ workforce in states. This conference appeals to all the remaining states to implement 6th Pay Commission before implementation of 7th Pay Commission.
The recommendations of 6th Pay Commission should be implemented without further delay by removing all the anomalies especially entry scale for teachers should be Rs. 16,290 instead of Rs. 13,500.
- We also demand to start an Entrance Examination for Teachers’ Training and Abolishment of Teacher Eligibility Test
This conference urges the Government of India to start conducting an entrance examination for admission to colleges of education like entrance test for selecting students for admission to medical colleges, to select quality students for the profession and also demands to abolish Teacher Eligibility Test. The knowledge being assessed by the Teacher Eligibility Test has hardly any relevance to the teaching work in the school.
- We the delegates of AIPTF Conference demand to Restore Old Pension Scheme and the Gratuity
After having retired from government service, employees were getting pension and the gratuity. This was helping them to push later part of their life with ease and comfort. This is because pension was helping them to meet their day to day expenses. Non-payment of pension to employees would make their retired life very tough and difficult. They may have no alternative but to depend upon their wards. In certain cases the situation may be uncomfortable and intolerable. The conference therefore, appeals to the Central Government of India to restore the previous pension scheme and the gratuity to provide relief to all the retiring employees including teachers as before.
- Appointment on Compassionate Ground
If a teacher dies in service, after his/her demise the family faces a lot of suffering in various aspects. We urge all the state governments to implement the policy of appointment of a dependent of the deceased family on compassionate grounds. But this policy is not being implemented in many states in India.
- Non-involvement of Teachers in Mid-day Meal Programme
The involvement of teachers in mid-day meal scheme is a non-professional work for them. This saps teachers teaching time thereby affecting students learning time and outcomes. To help teachers to devote their energy and time for teaching only, they need to be disassociated with mid-day meal programme. The conference urges all the state governments to make alternative arrangements for this mid-day meal programme.
- AIPTF demands Earned Leave for Teaching Community
All other state Government employees are availing of earned leave. Teachers are spending a lot of time as preparation in addition to their duty time. Actually they are not enjoying the vacation, as they will be busy with academic and administrative work, so at least 30 days earned leave may be granted to teachers too.
- AIPTF urges that Teachers Union Leaders are exempted from Class Room Activities
Recognised strongest union leaders of the state may be exempted from classroom activities for a specific period say one year because they are always busy with educational purpose activities. The state level leaders have to attend number of official meetings by education department and they are also working for EFA, NCTE, NCERT and other education related work. They have to travel a lot attending different activities. Some states have already given exemption to state leaders for attending classroom activities. This facility/privilege should be extended to all over India.
- We demand to raise the Retirement Age by 65 years
As we all agree that teachers are considered to be social engineers, so it is a great loss if we make them retire earlier for the nation. The retirement age of teachers must be raised to 65 and it may be implemented throughout India.
- Non-Educational Duties to Teachers
Non-educational duties assigned to teachers are seen affecting the classroom work. It has affected the quality education also. So the government should ensure that the teachers are not assigned any non-educational duties.
- Additional Increment for Additional Qualifications
Teachers have to up-date their subject knowledge and pedagogical skills on a continuing basis. If they acquire additional qualifications, Government should grant additional increment(s). Additional qualification may be considered for promotion too.
- AIPTF demands Voting Right to Primary Teachers in state Legislative Councils
In states where legislative councils in state assemblies exist, all the teachers except primary teachers have a right to vote for teachers’ constituencies. There are more than 45 lac primary teachers. These primary schools teachers are being deprived of their legitimate right to vote which is unjust. We appeal to the Central Government to amend the Constitution to grant voting right to primary teachers in teachers’ constituencies of legislative councils.
- We urge the Central Government for 50% Railway Concession to Teachers Participating in Educational Conferences
The educational conferences of the All India Primary Teachers’ Federation are of immense value to teachers in understanding issues affecting adversely quality of education. The Ministry of Railways, Government of India has been granting 50 %concession in rail fare to teachers who participate in educational conferences. During Janta Regime, it was reduced to 25% concession. We appeal to the Ministry of Railways to restore 50% concession to teachers. Salaries of teachers have increased as a result of implementation of recommendations of 5th and 6th Pay Commissions. We also appeal to the Ministry of Railways to increase their eligibility limit for this concession.
- Health Insurance Scheme
Hospital bill for teachers may be met by the government irrespective of the hospitals where they have taken the treatment. For the successful implementation, a health insurance scheme may be introduced in all states.
- Teacher Exchange Programme
Government should launch for teacher exchange programme for those who are working at the primary and upper primary level. In such a programme teacher may be deputed to other states/ countries to visit research institutions, observer classroom teaching in some schools and interact with faculty of members of schools, universities and research institutions. This would be quite helpful in acquiring latest transactional approaches and strategies being adopted in different states and countries. The exchange programme may be of suitable duration say three months or so.
- Educational Tours for Teachers Once in 5 Years
Teachers should be allowed to be provided facility for educational tour with their family once in five years. This would widen their mental horizon and enrich their knowledge in various aspects.
- We also appeal to expedite the programmes for elimination of Child Labour
The UN Declaration on Human Rights which states that everyone should have the right to free compulsory education for at least elementary education – a fundamental stage. But child labour continues to exist in many forms including bounded labour. It is barrier to achieve Universal Basic Education for All. We appeal to the Government of India to increase the measures for elimination of child labour