The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Teachers threaten matric boycott

Guwahati, Feb. 1: Accusing the Tarun Gogoi government of 'betrayal', an association of as many as 60,000 high school teachers and employees today announced a boycott of the High School Leaving Certificate (HSLC) and Assam High Madrassa examinations, beginning February 25.

The Assam Secondary School Teachers and Employees' Association said the Board of Secondary Education, Assam, would find it difficult to conduct the examinations without its co-operation. It held Dispur 'fully responsible' for the turn of events.

Ganesh Goswami, the president of the association, said a similar boycott threat before the examinations in 2004 was withdrawn after the chief minister promised to deposit the high school teachers and employees' arrears in their provident fund accounts by August 2004. The payments were to be made in accordance with payscales revised in 1998.

'However, we have not received a single paisa till now. We met the authorities concerned but received only assurances,' Goswami said.

The association leader said the government's 'indifference' towards the teachers and employees had left them with no option but to boycott the matriculation and madrassa examinations.

General secretary Ashish Ranjan Dey said the government had agreed to offer new payscales to the teachers on the basis of their seniority, but revoked the relevant order after the examinations were conducted successfully.

'We are disappointed by this action of the government. We have no faith in the ministers as well as the officials,' Dey said.

Continuing the tirade, the general secretary said the association submitted a memorandum to the government a couple of months ago, reminding it of the teachers and employees' demands. 'Our memorandum has yet to evoke a response from Dispur. We are concerned about the future of the students who will sit for the examinations this year, but have no option but to resort to such drastic actions as a boycott.'

About 2 lakh students will sit for the HSLC examinations.

Dinanath Barman, the chairman of the Board of Secondary Education, Assam, accused the teachers of making a habit of arm-twisting. He, however, held out hope for the anxious students and their guardians, saying the government had set in motion the process of disbursing arrears. 'But no decision has been taken on the demand for increments.'

The chairman said members of the association met minister of secondary education Hemprakash Narayan this evening and submitted a fresh memorandum.

Apart from demanding disbursement of arrears and a raise, the teachers' association has raised at least one issue concerning students: the delay in distribution of free textbooks.

'A month of the new academic session has elapsed, but textbooks on mathematics, general science and social studies for class X students have not been distributed. The Board of Secondary Education has also not finalised the Rapid Reader textbooks for classes VIII, IX and X. This is a serious anomaly that will affect students of class X the most because they get less time anyway to prepare for the HSLC exams,' Goswami said.

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