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Morcha mulls street protest on education

Posted by Ramesh Khati on September 15, 2009

Kalimpong, Sept. 14(The Telegraph): A Gorkha Janmukti Morcha cell has threatened to take to the streets over the alleged neglect of education in the hills by the Bengal government.

The education monitoring cell, which comprises members of the Morcha-affiliated teachers and students’ organisations, will meet in the next few days to discuss the matter and chalk out an agitation programme to pressure the government in addressing the problem.

“We had discussed some of the issues with home secretary Ardhendu Sen on July 26 in Darjeeling. But despite his assurance to resolve some of them at the earliest, nothing has been done till date,” alleged Tshering Tamang, the chief coordinator of the cell.

The primary demand of the cell is that the existing vacancies should be filled up. “There are 774 primary schools in the hills. Nine of them do not have a single teacher, over 150 of them have only one teacher each, and an almost equal number of them have only two teachers,” said Tamang. Similarly, there are 304 vacant posts in secondary schools, he added.

In its August 5 notification, the West Bengal Board of Primary Education had excluded the DGHC area while initiating the process for recruitment of primary teachers in all other districts of the state, including the Siliguri subdivisional area, the cell said.

“The reason they (read the government) cite for the omission is that the DGHC had not done an assessment of the vacancies in the hills,” Tamang alleged.

The cell has also demanded that conditions for the setting up of primary schools in the hills should be different from that of the plains, because of different topography. “The norm says a primary school should be set up for every 400 people. However, unlike in the plains where the population is concentrated, in the hills it’s scattered. So the yardstick for the hills should be the distance and not population.”

On the situation in secondary schools, Tamang said all teacher appointments in the last 15 years had been done on an ad-hoc basis.

“We want the jobs of all ad-hoc teachers to be regularised. In fact, 22 of the ad-hoc teachers have been formally absorbed after they approached the high court and got a verdict in their favour. Others, who do not have the financial means to approach the court, should also be absorbed on the same ground,” he added.

The cell alleged that not a single school in the hills — right from primary to the junior high to the secondary or higher secondary levels — had been upgraded in the last 15 years.

“In such a situation, it is the local people who on their own have upgraded the schools (to the secondary level) in their areas. As a result, a student of the locally upgraded secondary school sits for the Madhyamik exams as a student of the nearest recognised secondary school,” said Tamang.


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