The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Parents protest tuition ban

Burdwan, Oct. 12: Students’ parents in Burdwan have set up a guardians’ forum to protest against the state government’s decision to ban private tuition. The forum has decided to back teachers accused of running private coaching centres in contravention of a government order.

Criminal cases have been started against 43 teachers of government-aided schools in the district for cheating the government by accepting money from students for private tuition as well as drawing salary from the government by giving an undertaking that they will disassociate themselves from the practice.

The Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government had asked teachers to submit an undertaking that they would not take private tuitions as part of its crackdown on the practice. The move had initially met with teacher protests.

At least 2,500 guardians in a joint petition to Governor Viren J. Shah and the chief minister have condemned the education department’s move and said students would suffer if schoolteachers were stopped from giving private tuition.

“The students are not getting proper lessons in the school due to lack of infrastructure and they have no alternative but to take private coaching to fare well in the examinations,” said Baidyanath Kongar, spokesman of the forum.

He said a number of students, who will appear for next year’s Higher Secondary and Madhyamik examinations, were facing difficulty as teachers had been barred from taking tuition.

The accused teachers have also formed a separate organisation, Parents-Teachers Co-ordination Committee, to defend themselves in court. Subhendu Banerjee, an accused teacher, said they could not be prosecuted in the court on criminal charges. “At best, we may be charged with violating our service rules. The authorities may initiate departmental inquiries against us as per government procedure. Is it a criminal offence to help students privately prepare for examination'” he asked.

Despite the furore, the practice of private tuition continues. Several students of both CMS municipal boys’ and girls’ schools, who will appear for next year’s board examinations, said a few teachers of their schools were coaching them.

In other schools also, teachers were still engaged in private tuition violating the order of the government, the students alleged.

Subhas Samanta, district inspector of schools (Secondary), said most of the government-aided schools in the district were run by managing committees. “If we receive any complaint that teachers were giving private tuition, we will direct the managing committee to take action against the offending teachers,” he said.

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