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The art of war

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Some Useful People Wasted
Around 400 art and craft school teachers, out of jobs after funding under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan stopped in June, are taking on the govt with what they know best
Pallavi Smart
Posted On Monday, December 02, 2013 at 07:15:21 AM

Mahendra Kolhe
Out-of-work art  and craft teachers protesting outside the Central Building
At the time of his wedding two years ago, Raj Sonawale thought work would continue to be in a classroom, teaching kids craft work and taking home his more-than-modest salary of Rs 5,000 every month. Now, after six months of penury following the withdrawal of funding under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) that paid his salary, the 28-year-old from Satara has set up a stall hawking decorative items like Diwali lanterns, Ganeshotsav-related trappings, wall hangings and so on.

Like Sonawale, nearly 10,000 art and craft teachers in the state are living on a prayer post-June, and around 400 of them have gathered outside the office of the Director of Education at the Central Building here since a couple of days to press home their demands for a solution. And true to their art, the protest is being voiced through artwork and banners, charcoal sketches and drawings.

“When I got married, I was working with an unaided school for mentally challenged kids. When this opportunity under SSA came my way, I happily applied because it was a government job which translates into job security and other benefits. Little did I know that in just two years, I would be sitting at a stall selling decorative items, with profits expected only during the festive seasons.” “Craft is what I am good, so I decided to make decorative items,” said Sonawale.

Sonawale, who is also the state head for the Art, Sports and Craft Teachers Association, blames the State government’s indecisiveness in formulating a clear policy for the implementation of the SSA in Maharashtra, resulting in the withdrawal of Central funding.

All the positions for art and craft teachers were filled under the SSA in 2009. However, in 2012-13, the Centre stopped the grants and asked the state to prepare a policy related to SSA, but the State government is yet to create a full fledged policy.

Sonawale, said, “There are around 10,000 teachers who are facing the brunt due to confusion at the State government level over the scheme. We have been repeatedly requesting the government to look into the issues, but our pleas are going unheard. Finally, we decided to protest to get the government’s attention. Our appointments are official and we are qualified for it, then why should we face this situation?”

Anil Shette, a drawing teacher from Nanded, says the future is growing steadily darker as time goes by and the government drags its feet. To make ends meet, he is now into doing decorative artwork in households during festivals, painting cars and number plates. This Diwali, he earned Rs 10,000; his first since the last pay cheque in June.

“I am not married yet, but now the chances of getting hitched seem very slight indeed. Despite their poverty, my parents helped me get through school and training to hone my art. Now, the situation is completely different. Nobody wants to marry me because I do not have a job.

There are no vacancies at the private school where I was working before joining the government school. Anyway, there are not many vacancies in niche jobs like drawing teachers for school, but I can’t just sit idle and have started taking up all painting-related jobs,” said Shette.

Fauzia Khan, State minister for school education, said, “Work about the policy on SSA is in progress. Soon we will have it prepared.”

►►► There are around 10,000 teachers facing the brunt, thanks to
confusion at the State government level over the scheme. We decided to protest to get the govt’s attention

-  Raj Sonawale State head, Art, Sports and Craft Teachers Association

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