Teachers in Ilam district are being forced to pay 'donations' to the Maoists. Already underpaid by the school administration, the teachers are faced with added woes because of the extortion.
The rebels even have fixed donation rates for teachers at different levels in the local schools. Primary school teachers are required to pay Rs1,632 annually, those teaching in lower middle school have to pay Rs1,968 and high school teachers are forced to pay Rs3,000 each year.
The rebels arrive in the schools for extortion just as the school administration distributes four months' worth of the teachers' salaries. "Since we are notified by the rebels in advance, we have to give them the lump sum they demand annually," said Tara Khatiwada, principal of Jana Kalyan Primary School.
The rebels give the teachers cash receipts for the money they have taken, but some teachers don't take them for fear of authorities accusing them of helping the rebels. "The donations we collect like this have helped us to strengthen our party and sister organisations," one Maoist leader said. But the teachers who have been forced to pay the donations are having a difficult time taking care of their families. "Ever since I've been forced to pay these amounts, I've had to cut down on my children's expenses," says one teacher. There are 380 schools in Ilam district, with around 1,600 teachers.