Curriculum and language related issues in textbooks and classroom transactions: Over and above the problem of having to teach large numbers of children, primary school teachers complained about the difficulties related to the content of the prescribed textbooks. The class 1 teacher of the primary school in Dharkiro (Dhanbad district, Jharkhand) mentioned how “the questions and answers in the children’s textbooks are quite difficult for them [to understand] (bachchon ke kitaab mein prashn uttar hain jo unke liye kaafi mushkil hain)”. Teaching Class 1 children in Hindi was a problem. Teachers are not necessarily equipped to teach in the child’s mothertongue. The Class 1 teacher of the primary school in Burjangsar (earlier in Churu and now in Bikaner, Rajasthan) mentioned how “language is a problem ‐‐ they don’t understand Hindi, only their local dialect…[so] they take longer to learn (language se dikkat aati hain ‐‐ hindi nahi samajhte, sirf apni local language samajhte hain…seekhne mein inhe samay lagta hai)“.
Low and irregular salaries: In terms of difficult work conditions, contract teachers resented being paid low and irregular salaries. The problems were most acute for contract teachers in Bihar. A Class 1 teacher from Chana Badgaav (Bhagalpur district, Bihar) said, “The pay is very little and we don’t get paid on time. The salary we get should be given by the government and not by the panchayat authority (maneya bahut kum milta hain, aur samay par nahi milta. Vetan jo milta hai, sarkaar ke maadhyam se milna chaahiye, panchayat rajya se nahi milna chaahiye). His experience was echoed by the class 1 teacher of the primary school in Belari (Bhabua district, Bihar) who said that they got paid every 5‐6 months.
Problems voiced by female teachers: Female teachers, in general, struggled with the double burden of responsibilities at school and home. In addition, difficult travel to and from the school was cited as a problem by nearly half the female teachers. “There is no transport to travel to and from the school; I also feel unsafe, it’s isolated…one has to travel through the jungle (aane jaane ke liye gaadi ka abhav, asuraksha bhi mehsoos karte insecurity during travel to the school, there was also the possibility that a teacher felt insecure even at the school. For instance, the female teacher in Jhigarghat (Mandla district, MP) complained of “drunken men around the school."