Unpaid staff beg for pennies

3rd March 2000 at 00:00
INDIA: SCHOOLS in northern India are so strapped for cash that teachers have resorted to asking pupils to donate whatever money they can towards their salary.

A teacher can receive pound;2 to pound;5 a month this way and schools in rural villages in the Punjab are particularly affected.

In Bhagomara village in Ropar district, pupils have been asked to contribute 1.5p a month each towards the teacher's salary. Staff are forced to go round collecting the money, but some pupils are too poor to contribute. P> Parents question why the state government continues to distribute free textbooks and uniforms to poor pupils, yet asks for contributions toward teachers' salaries.

This paradox is surprising for an affluent state such as Punjab, where many urban schools rejected government attempts to introduce free meals, saying that they would rather the money was used to buy equipment.

Ibta Singh, the state education minister, conceded that, in some areas, staff had not been paid for months.

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