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Somatirtha Purohit

Lower PMG square in Bhubaneswar witnessed a unique protest on Friday when hundreds of teachers knelt down on the busy road with begging bowls in their hand while cursing their academic qualification which rendered them jobless.

They were Junior Sanskrit teachers who had cleared the Odisha Secondary School Teacher Eligibility Test (OSSTET) and Computer Based Test (CBT). They staged the protest in Capital city since the government has allegedly been denying them postings despite the fact that the posts of junior teachers have been lying vacant in schools since a long time.

 “It’s already years since we cleared the OSSTET. However, the State government has not published any notification during for a long period while thousands of posts for teachers are lying vacant,” alleged the protesting candidates.

A woman aspirant said that they (Government) had put up notification for 1304 posts where the reservation for ST candidates was higher than the general category. “We cleared all the tests required for the job with many difficulties and still we are jobless,” she alleged.

Another protestor said that prior to the present protest, the aspiring teachers had been protesting for the past four days.

They said though they had met the Odisha Mass Education Minister Sameer Das, they decided to continue their protest as they were not in agreement with the terms imposed by the government for the postings.

When asked about the begging bowls they were holding, one of the aspirants said it was a symbolic gesture of what they were undergoing despite having the requisite qualifications for the jobs.

“We are not given employment even after fulfilling all the criteria required for the job. If the government continues to ignore us we will be forced to commit self immolation,” he warned.

Earlier in October, the Odisha Junior Teacher Aspirants' Association (OJTAA) had organised ‘all night dharna’ at Lower PMG square in Bhubaneswar demanding filling up of vacant posts of junior teachers in the State. 

The OJTAA members alleged that though over 20,000 junior teacher posts are lying vacant in the State, recruitment has not been conducted since December 2016. They said that about 75,000 candidates, who are qualified to be junior teachers, are awaiting appointments.

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