What is Gyan Sahayak Scheme, and why is it being opposed?
Context- As Gujarat saw the announcement of the Gyan Sahayak Scheme by the state government in July, it also witnessedc opposition from student groups, political parties including the AAP and Congress, among others. The scheme aims to fill vacancies in government schools with the appointment of teachers on contractual basis till the process of regular appointments is complete. Even the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the BJP-backed student wing, has sought cancellation of the scheme.
An interim arrangement
- The Education Department had announced the scheme in July, stressing that Gyan Sahayaks would be appointed in the interim period till the vacant posts of teachers in primary, secondary and higher secondary government schools are filled through regular appointments.
- The aim, the government said, was that education was not affected. The appointments were to be filled on contractual basis.
- The Government Resolution (GR) issued on July 10 cites the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 as the premise for implementing eleven months of contractual Gyan Sahayak Scheme in primary, secondary and higher secondary government schools.
- The NEP 2020, it said, suggests that 21st century students should have communication, critical and creative thinking and problem solving skills. For this, it is important that teachers too are equipped with these skills.
- The resolution also stated that for the holistic development of students, it is necessary to have such teachers who have interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary skillsets other than knowledge of academic subjects.
Only for government schools
- Gyan Sahayak Scheme is for government and grant-in-aid schools, especially for Mission Schools of Excellence. The government had declared hiring on contract 15,000 Gyan Sahayaks in primary schools and 11,500 in secondary and higher secondary schools.
- A primary school Gyan Sahayak is eligible for a salary of Rs 21,000, secondary school Gyan Sahayak for Rs 24,000 and higher secondary school Gyan Sahayak for Rs 26,000 per month.
- Online applications have been issued where the candidates can fill their school choice and on merit-cum-preference basis a school wise list of Gyan Sahayak will be soon announced by the state Education Department.
- An estimated 32,000 vacancies — around 20,000 in primary and 12,000 in secondary schools — are reported in government and grant-in-aid schools in the state.
- A majority of these posts are lying vacant in schools. Albeit, in some secondary schools, Pravasi teachers are teaching students. The Gyan Sahayaks will replace the Pravasi Shikshaks, a scheme announced to serve the same purpose in 2015.
- The last regular appointments done in these schools were for 320 teachers in government primary schools where the state government hired teachers just before state assembly elections last year and over 6,000 in January 2021 in secondary schools.
Who are eligible?
- To be a Gyan Sahayak in primary school, the candidate should have cleared the Gujarat Examination Board conducted Teachers Eligibility Test (TET)-2 while for secondary and higher secondary Gyan Sahayak, Teacher Aptitude Test (TAT) cleared candidates. Candidates who have cleared TET-2 five years before the announcement of Gyan Sahayak Scheme cannot apply.
- While both primary and secondary school teachers should be under 40 years, the age limit is 42 for higher secondary school.
- A merit list of percentile ranks is to be prepared by the Gujarat Examination Board on the basis of TET-2 results.
What are the terms of appointment, salary, age, contract period?
- The contract of 11 months for Gyan Sahayaks is to be automatically cancelled on completion. School Management Committees have the power to make such contracts. At the end of the contract period, the work will be reviewed on the basis of which a new contract can be drawn.
- Since the announcement of the contractual appointments, right from the opposition — Congress and AAP, different teachers and school associations, lakhs of TET and TAT cleared candidates awaiting regular appointment by the state government, the scheme has witnessed wide protests, even from the ABVP last month.
- They claimed to have done a survey among teachers, candidates, parents and educationists and submitted a representation to the state government to cancel the scheme. The ABVP had declared to continue its protest in different forms in the coming days too if the scheme is not scrapped.
- On one hand while lakhs of candidates, who have cleared TET and TAT, are waiting for regular appointments as teachers, parents have expressed their concern over contractual teachers not taking ‘interest’ in teaching students.
How is it different from Pravasi Shikshak Scheme?
- The July 2023 GR states that with the implementation of Gyan Sahayak Scheme, all resolutions for Pravasi Shikshak are to be cancelled.
- However, there is not much change in both these schemes, other than that the Gyan Sahayak Scheme follows a more detailed hiring process along with the eligibility criteria and some changes in the remuneration.
Conclusion- Looking at the shortage of teachers and delay in regular appointments, the “honorarium scheme” inviting visiting faculties for schools was introduced in 2015 for a period of two years but has been extended every year since then. Government needs to address the concerns voiced by protestors on priority going forward.
Syllabus- GS-2; Education
Source- Indian Express