Thousands of teachers working under the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) in Assam on Saturday staged a massive protest against the BJP-led government’s apathy in fulfilling their long standing demands including that of regularizing their services.
There are over 41,000 teachers in Assam imparting elementary education in thousands of lower primary schools across the state. These teachers, who had qualified the Teachers’ Eligibility Test (TET), have joined schools but their services are yet to be regularized.
As thousands of teachers from different districts gathered at the Veterinary College ground at Khanapara in Guwahati on Saturday morning, the security forces locked the gate from outside restricting the movement of the teachers who were supposed to rally to Dispur.
The Assam government lined up hundreds of armed security personnel in and around the Khanapara area of Guwahati during the protest. The police had also kept on standby the Bajra — the riot control vehicle fitted with water cannons to be used in case of an emergency.
Primary school teachers from different parts of the state, some of them with their babies, were seen taking part in the protest.
“The regularization of our services has been a long standing demand of the TET qualified teachers. The BJP had also mentioned in its poll manifesto ahead of the 2016 Assembly polls that the services of the TET qualified teachers will be regularized but is now turning its back on the demands,” said Trailokya Deka, Working President of the Sodou Asom TET UIttirna Sikshak Samaj.
“Due to non-regularization of the services, contractual teachers have not been able to avail some of the basic facilities availed by their counterparts who were regularized,” he said, adding that the government on Saturday prevented them from exercising their democratic right of peaceful protest.
Without regularization of their services despite dedicated service of seven years, these teachers are now scared of losing their jobs as the validity of the TET certificate has already expired and the number of unemployed youths is spiralling in the state.
The TET qualified teachers are also allegedly subjected to humiliation by ministers and bureaucrats. Recently, the Assam education minister had termed the TET pass certificate of these teachers as a ‘driving license’, inviting the wrath of the teachers.
The primary school teachers across the state prefixed ‘driver’ in their social media accounts in protest against the statement of the education minister.