Tribal sports champs and 1500 others race to secure their old teaching jobs | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

Tribal sports champs and 1500 others race to secure their old teaching jobs

Apr 18, 2024 09:21 AM IST

Janan is one of 1500 tribal school teachers who find themselves thus unemployed and who now sell fruits and vegetable or work as daily wage labourers

Mumbai: Vijaya Janan, recipient of the prestigious Shiv Chatrapati award in 2004-05 for her accomplishments in rowing, is at present unemployed and hawking watermelons after the government terminated her services as a sports teacher.

Ramesh Sonawane, who is a post-graduate and serves as a kabaddi umpire during national tournaments, sells watermelons in Nashik to make ends meet.
Ramesh Sonawane, who is a post-graduate and serves as a kabaddi umpire during national tournaments, sells watermelons in Nashik to make ends meet.

She and her husband Ramesh Sonawane were appointed on contractual basis at an ashram shala (tribal school) at Nashik in 2018 but their employment was discontinued in 2020 during the pandemic.

Unlock exclusive access to the latest news on India's general elections, only on the HT App. Download Now! Download Now!

Janan is one of 1500 tribal school teachers who find themselves thus unemployed and who now sell fruits and vegetable or work as daily wage labourers, their contribution to sports and education forgotten. Janan, for instance, is a two-time national champion in the 1500-meter running event, in addition to her feats in rowing. She has coached hundreds of Adivasi girls at both state and national level in the last 15 years, says her husband Sonwane. He, too, holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in physical education and is a qualified coach from the National Institute of Sports. Additionally, he serves as a kabbadi umpire during national tournaments and has mentored over 100 national-level players. Despite their impressive sporting credentials, the couple now find themselves selling watermelons on the streets for a living. Before his employment was tyerminated, Sonwane was worked as a sports teacher at Kanashi village in Nashik district. In 2019 the tribal department initiated recruitment drives for arts, sports, and computer teachers on a contractual basis across the state. Sonawane successfully cleared the examination conducted as part of this recruitment process and was appointed at the Government Ashram School in Chankapur.

Leveraging his expertise as a national-level coach, Sonawane began to train children from the Katkari tribal community. Over a span of three years, he mentored over a hundred players from this region, facilitating their progression to national-level competitions. His efforts bore fruit as several of his protégés represented Maharashtra twice in national sports tournaments hosted in Chhattisgarh.

“The department appointed all these teachers on a 36-month contract basis with three phases of 11 months each from the tribal department, with Rs. 20,000 fixed remunerations,” says Ganesh Labhade, a sports teacher and national coach from Nashik district who champions the rights of teachers. “After the sudden termination during Covid, some teachers approached the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT) while yet others approached the Bombay high court for relief. Both MAT and the the high court in its interim order said that the government should not discontinue our services. However, to date, the government has not shown readiness to let us resume our service contract.”

Recently the project officer of each tribal sector sent a requirement of these teachers to run the schools in the coming academic year. Sandeep Padwal, a computer teacher who was working with tribal school in Thane district, said, “I secured this job after completing a master’s in computer science. But suddenly, the state government stopped our services which has led me to work in a small computer training institute for a small salary.” When they were first recruited, he added, the government had also made them sign a bond about not working with any other employer while they in government service. In October 2023, the government assured these teachers that they would be re-appointed to their positions, but there has been no progress since, and now they learn that the government is looking for new teachers.

“We are ready to work as per government rules, but most of us, including me, are facing a financial crunch and are forced to take up any odd job to survive. We request the government to re-appoint us to our earlier positions,” said Labhade.

Meanwhile, a senior official from the tribal department said it was difficult to comment as the matter was sub judice. “We are, however, trying to find a solution,” he said.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Saturday, May 18, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On