The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Army of teachers on hire
- Contract with no ‘code of conduct’ for primary schools

Calcutta, Sept. 9: The state government will appoint 60,000 teachers on contract at primary and high primary levels under the Centre’s Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, school education minister Kanti Biswas said today.

Though being done under a central scheme, the move comes as a precursor to the government’s own plans to recruit teachers for state-aided primary and secondary schools on contract.

The government has not been able to appoint teachers on contract at these two levels yet, primarily because of opposition from the CPM-controlled teachers’ bodies. The government engaged 700 teachers on contract at the Higher Secondary level last year.

After a video-conference with district magistrates, sabhadhipatis, project directors of the Abhiyan, Biswas said Rs 1,000 crore has been allotted for the implementation of the scheme. The Centre is providing Rs 800 crore and the state government the remaining amount.

“We are ensuring that the Centre releases the funds on time so that the teachers get timely salary,” Biswas said.

The decision to appoint teachers on such a large scale was taken to educate nearly 31 lakh out-of-school children in the state, the minister added. Among these children, 24 lakh had dropped out between classes V and VIII.

“We are trying to ensure that all children get education up to Class VIII,” Biswas said.

He hinted that the teachers could be selected through the employment exchange, where 26 lakh educated youths are registered as “unemployed”.

Those hired on contract would not come under the jurisdiction of the teachers’ code of conduct and would be able to tutor students in private or work elsewhere at the same time, said Biswas. Teachers with Bachelors’ or Masters’ degrees would be offered Rs 4,000 every month and non-graduates Rs 3,000.

The contract would be valid initially for six months. Biswas said: “We are negotiating with the Centre to extend the contract period.

“We are targeting at building up better infrastructure for the schools. In the next two years, we should have better toilets, more classrooms and drinking water in all schools.”

Biswas also announced that the government has already started reviewing the introduction of English teaching at the primary level and its stand would be made public in a month or two.

English is now taught formally from Class III following the recommendation of the Pabitra Sarkar committee. The system was scheduled for review in 2004 but the government has already started the process.

The Ranju Gopal Mukherjee committee’s “opinion” on English teaching as well as other recommendations on revamping the education system in the state will also be considered during the review.

Talking to reporters, Biswas today acknowledged that the quality of rice provided free of cost to children as mid-day meal was not “up to the mark”. The district magistrates and sabhadhipatis have been asked to keep a close watch on the rice provided to poor children, said Biswas. Cooked meals are already being served to students in Bankura, Birbhum, Jalpaiguri and Purulia.

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