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Teachers threaten protest over fest

Cuttack, Dec. 31: Orissa Secondary School Teachers’ Association (OSSTA) has threatened to go on an agitation after they were denied permission to host the annual Children’s Festival in Cuttack from January 7, 2011.

Yesterday, OSSTA questioned the basis on which they were not allowed to host the event. OSSTA has been organising the Children’s Festival since 1979. The main objective of the festival is to unite students from all parts of the state and nurture their talents through various competitions and other study tours.

“It was quite shocking that all of a sudden director secondary education Srikant Prusty has issued directive to all inspectors of schools not to send students and guides to the Children’s Festival. Earlier, the department used to provide duty leave to the teachers to attend the festival,” said OSSTA general secretary Raghunath Sahoo.

Expressing displeasure over the decision, OSSTA representatives said that citing upcoming examination as a reason, the director of secondary education has come up with the directive that is not relevant as there are no examinations scheduled to be held between December 10 and February 21, 2011.

OSSTA has been organising the festival in 314 blocks, 19 education circles and in state level. Usually, students from Class VIII to Class X participate in the competitions in nine disciplines. The students winning the competitions in the block-level participate in the circle-level and subsequently in the state-level competitions. Around 90 per cent students from secondary schools across the state participate in the festival. This year the festival was scheduled to be held at Barabati Stadium. Many eminent personalities including Orissa Human Rights Commission chairperson R.K. Patra gave his consent to attend the function as guest of honour on January 8. Under such circumstances, the directive to all circle inspectors not to allow students for the festival has given rise to a controversy.

Condemning the move, OSSTA representatives said that such a decision is unilateral and whimsical and have threatened for agitation if they are denied permission to host the annual programme.

“We met school and mass education minister Pratap Jena over the issue yesterday. The minister assured us that he would look into the matter,” said Sahoo.

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