Mrunal Manmay Dash

As the Odisha government floated an advertisement for the recruitment of 20,000 junior teachers on a schematic basis, primary school teachers across the State have begun staging dharna demanding pension as per the previous format and salary as per the central pay scale.

As per reports, primary school teachers across the State staged a dharna in front of almost all the offices of the Block Education Officer (BEO), which in turn has hampered education in schools.

“As teachers, we would never want our students to suffer in their studies. But we have been pushed to such a position after the government cheated us twice, in 2017 and in 2022. While teachers of 22 States in India get grade pay of Rs 4200, we in Odisha still get Rs 2200,” said a protesting teacher.

However, the OSEPA Chief, Anupam Shah denied reports of all the teachers protesting at BEO offices. “All the teachers are not protesting across the State. It is in some districts. We are discussing with them at the district level, wherever they are protesting.”

Bhujabala Government Upper-Primary School in Rayagada, all five teachers have joined the strike at the BEO office leaving 147 students of the school under two cooks. The cooks reportedly fed the students mid-day meal and sent them home.

The situation is reportedly the same in all the districts.

A student Roshan Majhi said, “We found our school locked for the past few days. Teachers tell us to return home. I walk three kms from my home to study in school and return without learning.”

As per the latest government advertisement, as many as 20,000 Junior Teacher (schematic) posts will be filled up in the Primary and Upper Primary Schools under different Revenue Districts of the state.

As per the OSEPA advert, applications from the intending candidates for the post of Junior Teacher (Schematic) will be invited in online mode only from September 13, 2023.

Meanwhile, politics has heated up owing to the teachers' strike and the recent notification of teacher recruitment. The Opposition alleged that when the government has already announced the abolition of contractual posts, then why this schematic teacher recruitment has been advertised again.

BJP spokesperson, Anil Biswal said, “Did Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik lie on his birthday. This notification should be withdrawn and a new one with 20,000 regular teacher posts should be issued again.”

Ruling BJD MLA, Sashi Bhusan Behera responded saying, “The government is appointing thousands of teachers by abolishing the contractual system. This is a long process which has been taking place in phases. The government has enough respect for the teachers and we have been laying emphasis on our education system as well.”

Later in the day, the Secretary of School and Mass Education department held discussions with agitating primary school teachers and appealed them to withdraw protest. According to sources a sub-committee has been constituted to look into their demands.

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