Gorkhatimes

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Strike hits hill education dept

Posted by Ramesh Khati on July 11, 2009

Morcha supporters demonstrate in front of the Kalimpong police station on Friday after the lathicharge in Panighata.

Morcha supporters demonstrate in front of the Kalimpong police station on Friday after the lathicharge in Panighata.

Kalimpong, July 10: All offices of the education departments belonging to the Bengal government and the DGHC in the hills remained closed as a week-long strike called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha organisations began today.

The strike is being spearheaded by the Education Monitoring Cell (EMC) — comprising the Janmukti Secondary Teachers’ Organisation, Gorkha Primary Teachers’ Organisation and Gorkha Janmukti Vidyarthi Morcha — to pressure the state government into accepting nine demands.

Among others, the demands include the regularisation of teachers, who were appointed on contract by the DGHC, for existing vacancies, introduction of the Sarva Shiksha Mission (SSM) in the hills and upgrade of junior schools to the higher secondary level.

A delegation of the EMC, led by the chief co-ordinator Tshering Tamang, met the additional chief secretary in-charge of education K. John Koshy at Mongpong, about 50km from here, last night and discussed the demands. Manish Jain, the state project officer of SSM, was also present.

Tamang said Koshy had assured the EMC that he would look into three demands. “On the appointment of teachers, he said he would be seeking a report from the DGHC. He also said there was a scope for appointing para-teachers in the hills,” said Tamang. With regards to the introduction of the SSM, Koshy is understood to have asked the EMC to suggest how to go about implementing the scheme.

With Koshy refusing to interact with the media, it was not possible to get the state government’s view on the EMC demands. In fact, the choice of venue itself was rather interesting, as it was held at a forest guest house in Mongpong, a tiny hamlet on NH31, a little distance from Coronation Bridge.

With Koshy not even allowing The Telegraph to take pictures of the meeting, there were questions why a matter involving the future of education in the hills was shrouded in secrecy.

The delegation, which consisted of the members from Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Mirik, travelled not less than 50km on roads ravaged by landslides to reach the venue.

The EMC threatened to launch an intensified movement if its demands were not met. “The lack of sincerity and urgency displayed by the government in addressing the issues only proves it is least concerned about arresting the decline of education in the hills,” said Tamang.

Source: The Telegraph

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