Monday, December 5, 2022
HomeEducationWB TET Protestors' Hunger Strike On, Exposes Mess in State’s Primary Education

WB TET Protestors’ Hunger Strike On, Exposes Mess in State’s Primary Education

After over 20 aspiring primary school teachers being hospitalized in the last four days from the streets of Salt Lake in Kolkata due to the ongoing hunger strike, the protest of Teachers Eligibility Test (TET) qualified candidates is steadily reaching critical levels.

Hundreds of protestors are holding a sit-in demonstration under open skies for four days now after police stopped their march to the state Primary Education Board headquarters on Monday. The protestors cleared the written tests eight years ago in 2014 but failed to get past the two sets of interviews they appeared for.

In the wake of the large-scale recruitment corruption allegations, the agitators are now demanding direct recruitment claiming their appointments were thwarted because the council chose the corruption route and gave jobs to undeserving candidates in the first place.

Recently, a case of corruption came to light which rocked Bengal’s school education sector and have put the influential board and School Service Commission authorities as also former education minister Partha Chatterjee behind bars.

With the primary education board freshly opening up recruitment for some 11,000 posts of primary teachers and now treading with extreme caution given previously alleged irregularities have resulted in some 18 petitions which are being heard by the Calcutta High Court and already opened up Pandora’s box in the process, board officials are determined to get the recruitments done by the book.

Board officials claim that the candidates who qualified TET in 2014 have already participated in two recruitment processes in the last eight years and some 53,000 appointments have been given to that batch.

In the latest recruitment notification dated 29 September, the board has asked 2014 qualified but not included candidates to appear for a fresh round of interviews alongside candidates from the subsequent 2017 batch who have cleared the exam.

The call has irked the agitating 2014 candidates who have now given a counter-call to boycott any further interviews and are demanding direct recruitment instead. What has added to the chagrin of these protestors is chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s previous public assurances of filling up vacancies with qualified candidates in a phased manner once court litigations are sorted.

“The board never published a proper merit list after the interviews. It only came up with a list of names without assigning any scores against any of them. We now know that there was corruption and we were deprived. Now the board wants us to again compete with the 2017 candidates who studied a changed syllabus, scored higher marks in their HS exams and have undue advantage over us. Why should we agree to do that?” said Palash Ghosh, a protesting 2014 TET candidate.

“Our chief minister first promised us the jobs and has gone silent ever since. We will not move an inch from this place till Board gives us direct appointments. We are holding a hunger strike and would rather embrace death,” said Ranjan Maity, a protesting candidate who has been lying on the road ever since the demonstration began.

Gautam Pal, the newly-appointed primary board president who replaced TMC MLA Manik Bhattacharya who was removed on Calcutta High Court orders and subsequently taken into custody by the Enforcement Directorate on grounds of laundering the proceeds of corruption, however, calls the agitation of 2014 candidates “unreasonable”.

“We assure you that we will carry out the latest recruitment process with utmost transparency and fairness. The board has no preference towards either the 2014 batch or candidates from 2017. All required qualifications would be duly recognized and scores would be adequately reflected in the merit list,” Pal said on Thursday.

Those assurances have failed to cut ice with the protesting candidates so far. In fact, things have got a little messier than what already was after the 2017 TET candidates launched a separate agitation of their own on Thursday, barely 200 metres from where their predecessors are sitting, with the demand to hold interviews exclusive to this batch without involving the 2014 candidates.

Meanwhile, the Calcutta High Court has directed the state police to ensure that the Board office is protected from all agitation and that Section 144 of CrPC be enforced around the premises.

Net net, the grand mess which the Bengal school education sector currently finds itself in even after starting the recruitment process afresh after court cases exposed its previous irregularities and whose burden it presently carries, the intervention of the high judiciary once again seems to be a writing on the wall.

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