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Mass recruitment in time of thrift

Calcutta, Nov. 13: The debt-ridden government is planning to recruit over 12,000 teachers for nearly 600 state-funded secondary schools across Bengal at a time when it is unable to pay the teaching staff on time.

Officials said the School Service Commission (SSC) would hold the examination for recruiting the teachers between December and January 2003. The new teachers are expected to join the institutions in the next financial year, beginning April 2003.

Though the government has otherwise frozen creation of new jobs or recruitment of permanent employees in the state or assisted sectors in the light of the unprecedented funds crunch, it has flashed the green signal to the SSC to take in new teachers after getting reports that working of many schools is suffering.

At present, 10 per cent of government teachers are retiring every year. The SSC, a newly-established body, is handling appointments only to vacancies created by the retirement of teachers, though the government, while setting it up, had wanted the commission to oversee contractual appointments as well.

Its calculations appear to have gone awry now that the austerity drive has put all regular recruitment programmes on the ice and many state-run institutions, skirting the SSC, are employing teachers on contract.

The state education department, however, explained that the upcoming recruitment drive was in no way diluting the austerity pledge on two counts. First, the recruitments would be for sanctioned posts. Second, the nature of the situation in which the schools find themselves in justifies the recruitment drive.

“This is one examination which offers a simple, ordinary graduate an opportunity to bid for a secure government job, a decent salary and substantial retirement benefits. Therefore, a large number of young people would throng our examination centres,” says commission chairman Arun Kiran Chakrabarty, underscoring the importance of the coming event.

The commission has also decided to take a string of measures to ensure a fool-proof examination process.

Nearly 400,000 candidates hoping for employment in the 600 state-funded schools will find it easier to fill up their application forms for appearing in the next SSC examination. “Learning the lesson from the past, we have simplified the application forms,” says Chakrabarty.

Trouble had broken out in some districts last year as a large number of applicants, who did not receive their admit cards till the day of the examination, attacked various examination centres. They demanded that the authorities allow them to sit for the examination without the admit cards since they had paid Rs 200 as examination fees.

Chakraborty said though last year’s delay was due to negligence of the postal department, the commission has found that certain measures are necessary to hasten the process of preparing the admit cards.

“To avoid recurrence of last year’s incident, we have decided to make the format of the forms simpler so that candidates make minimum mistakes while filling them up and it is easier for them to understand what information exactly they are required to provide,” said Chakraborty.

According to him, the previous format of the forms contained complicated instructions, which many candidates failed to understand. Hence, they supplied wrong information and the authorities took a long time correcting them.

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