Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
September 5 is observed in India as the day of light –Teachers Day. But Primary teachers in Orissa observed it as Black Day and in that, exposed the black administration going on in the regime of Chief minister Navin Patnaik.
The primary teachers are tortured in Orissa. They are unable to draw up and follow lesson plans in teaching the students as text books – nationalized in Orissa – are not supplied despite lapse of several months of the academic year. They are suffering mental agony as they know that they are cheating the students instead of teaching them for no fault at their end. They are repeatedly requesting the government for supply of the text books, but the black administration doesn’t buzz.
The Primary Schools are pathetically denuded of faculties. Many of the schools have single teachers who manage 3 to 5 classes due to vacancies in teaching posts. Instead of filling up the vacancies through regular recruitment, the government was trying to manage the situation by appointing teaching assistants (Siksha Sahayaks) on contract basis. The High Court of Orissa has put an injunction on contractual appointment of 18,820 such Sahayaks. In utter confusion, the mass education minister has requested retired teachers to devote some of their times to teaching in any school of their choice at any time they prefer till the High Court sets aside the injunction or the case is over and Sahayaks are available for appointment on contract basis. But no retired teacher has responded to the request.
On the other hand, most of the retired teachers are deeply aggrieved due to end of their service without due promotion. They are victims of administrative apathy that did not enhance the age of superannuation, as a result of which they are financially jeopardized.
The primary teachers, including the retired ones, are not yet given salaries in the sixth pay commission scale. They are over used due to non-appointment of teachers in proportion to students’ strength in schools. They are not even given promotion under the cadre rules. They have been demanding that the government should desist from creating different categories of teachers under different schemes and nomenclatures. As all of them teach the kids in primary level, there should be a single cadre for all of them and accordingly all of them should be placed in a single cadre like elementary teachers’ cadre under one Head of Department and one head of Accounts. But the recalcitrant administration doesn’t heed to their demands.
Harassed to the core, the primary teachers of Orissa have observed the Teachers Day as a Black Day. On September 5, more than 10,000 teachers offered demonstrations in Bhubaneswar in protest against the continuous apathy shown by the administration to their aforesaid demands including demands for immediate supply of text books to the primary schools.
Curiously enough, the government has preferred not to react to their demands, but to condemn the collective steps of the teachers by saying that the demonstration blackened the Teachers Day inasmuch as the agitation was unauthorized and was organized sans notice to the authorities. The teachers’ body insists that the authorities were informed in due time of their proposed demonstration. When the Secretary Ms. Aparajita Sarangi was give the notice through courier services on August 4, by memorandum submitted through all the BDOs of the State on August 21 and further through all the Collectors on August 28, Government was notified of the schedule of their agitation. All these steps of the teachers were amply covered by newspapers and electronic media. So, the teachers allege, the departmental Secretary is uttering lies in saying that the teachers have resorted to a surprise demonstration.
Question is: why the government is silent on the charter of demands of the teachers while condemning the observation of Teachers day as Black Day? If so many thousands of teachers could know the schedule of their demonstration and abservance of Black Day, how was it that the Secretary could not know of the schedule? Has the government’s intelligence machinery become defunct? How the government is running? If the government could not know of the teachers’ program despite notice sent through courier, through all the BDOs and through all the Collectors sufficient ahead of the schedule, who should be responsible for that?
The reaction of the Minister as well as the Secretary of Mass education on mass demonstration of the teachers on September 5 clearly shows that they are running a black administration in the department.