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Minister fumes over pay delay

- Salary-freeze warning to SSA officials

Guwahati, Sept. 10: Dispur today warned education department officials that their salaries would be frozen if TET-qualified teachers working across the state did not get their pay on time.

The warning came from none other than education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who expressed his anger and resentment over the issue during a review meeting of the Asam Sarba Siksha Abhijaan (SSA) held here today.

Sarma said it was a matter of serious concern that many meritorious youths, who had cleared TET in the early part of this year and had subsequently received appointment letters, had lost motivation because of irregular or delayed payment of salaries.

He said the delay was solely because of artificially created bureaucratic hassles and corruption among a section of SSA officials at the district level.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi had distributed appointment letters among 26,109 candidates who had cleared TET at a function at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium at the Sarusajai Sports Complex here on May 20. These teachers are currently working in lower primary and upper primary schools across the state.

The ruling Congress government won accolades from different quarters for conducting the TET and the consequent appointment process in a very transparent and fair manner.

The government will be spending Rs 419.15 crore annually to pay these teachers. While the Centre will bear 75 per cent of the expenditure, the state will bear the rest to effectively implement the Right to Education Act.

The education department has even decided to conduct regular evaluation tests for all TET-qualified teachers to maintain the quality of teaching.

According to plan, only those who pass the tests, which will cover aptitude, ethics, sincerity and innovative teaching skills, will be allowed to continue in service, while those who fail will be asked to retire voluntarily.

“The school management committees will no longer disburse salaries to TET-qualified teachers. Teachers will be asked to open salary accounts in reputed banks like State Bank of India and the SSA will disburse their salaries to these accounts by the fourth or fifth of every month,” Sarma said.

The education minister said if there were any delay in release of salaries to the teachers from the next month, the government would block the salaries of the SSA officials concerned. He said no SSA official would receive salaries before the teachers did.

Sarma said member secretaries of the school management committees would be maintaining the monthly attendance register of the teachers up to the 25th of every month and submit the same to the block mission coordinator positively on the 26th. SSA block accountants would then verify the records and prepare the teachers’ salary bills.

“Majority of the paperwork relating to disbursement of the teachers’ salaries must be completed within the 30th of every month so that they get their pay latest by the first week of every month to keep their motivation level at the peak. Once teachers lose motivation it will not go down well with the government’s efforts to ensure quality school education in the state,” Sarma said.

The minister has also instructed SSA officials to take action against the school management committee members in Nagaon district’s Laokhowa education block who are allegedly taking bribes from teachers to release their salaries.