Bhubaneswar: As the indefinite ceasework by primary teachers of state-run schools in Odisha entered the sixth day on Wednesday, about 1.30 lakh teachers took mass leave after closing down about 54,000 schools across the state.
While teachers staged an agitation pressing for the abolition of the contractual appointment system and the reimplementation of old pension, about 40 lakh students of state-run schools remained out of their institutions. The teachers continued their stir despite the Odisha government’s appeal to withdraw their strike.
The teachers under the banner of United Primary Teachers Federation launched an indefinite agitation last Friday (September 8) for fulfillment of their demands include abolition of the contractual appointment system, hike in grade pay and restoration of the old pension scheme.
As the government did not take any steps on their demands, the aggrieved teachers went on mass leave and staged protests before the offices of block education officers (BEOs), said Brahmananda Maharana, an agitating teacher.
Due to the protest, primary education in 56,000 schools has been hit badly. Maximum schools were locked after prayers while in some schools, one or two teachers conducted the classes.
“Instead of looking into our demands, the government has constituted a sub-committee. When an inter-ministerial panel has already been constituted, what is the need of the sub-committee?,” a teacher leader asked. He also alleged that the sub-committee was formed “only to delay the process”.
Meanwhile, opposition BJP and Congress slammed the state government for failing to address the issues of school teachers.
Though five days have already passed, the government has failed to address their grievances, said state BJP spokesperson Anil Biswal.
Due to the apathy of the state government, the entire education system has virtually collapsed in the state, he alleged.
“When the government can spend Rs 500 crore on the chopper ride of a secretary, why are they unable to pay proper salary to the teachers?” asked the BJP leader.
State Congress president Sarat Pattanayak said an ‘emergency’ like situation has been created in the education system in Odisha. The government is sitting idle without resolving their issues, he said.
On the other hand, BJD MLA Arabinda Dhali said the state government will certainly look into their genuine demands.