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Dispur to appoint more teachers on poll eve

Himanta Biswa Sarma

Guwahati, Nov. 19: Dispur today said it would start the process of appointment of permanent teachers for lower and upper primary schools in the state in a few days.

The announcement comes more than a decade after Gauhati High Court imposed a blanket ban on the appointment of permanent teachers in the state’s elementary schools in 2001 following allegations of anomalies in recruitment during the AGP’s second term from 1996 to 2001.

The announcement, which also significantly comes on the eve of panchayat polls, will see the recruitment of 12,000 teachers in the first phase.

Education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told reporters on the sidelines of a departmental review on the completion of the process of provincialisation of venture educational institutions that the advertisement for the posts of 12,000 teachers would be published in a few days.

He said the entire process of selecting deserving candidates and handing over formal appointment letters to them would be completed within March 31, 2013. Candidates who have already cleared the Teacher Eligibility Test will be given preference, he added.

Political observers said the appointment of permanent teachers in lower and upper primary schools before the panchayat polls could turn into thousands of votes for the ruling Congress.

Dispur had filed a miscellaneous petition in Gauhati High Court on August 23, 2011 to lift the ban on appointment of teachers. In its verdict on January 25 this year, the court allowed the state government to fill up 12,000 posts. The government then filed a special leave application in Supreme Court against the high court order. The apex court quashed the order and paved the way for the appointment of about 1,00,000 teachers in the schools under the provision of Right to Education (RTE) Act.

Assam requires 1,24,236 teachers for its 35,065 lower primary schools and another 84,869 teachers for its 5,863 upper primary schools. But Dispur has sought to fill up 68,351 posts of elementary schoolteachers initially to fulfil RTE norms. The RTE mandates every lower primary school to have two teachers.

“The government has also decided to close down about 1,200 schools which are availing of government benefits without enrolling even a single student. Education officials of all districts have been asked to monitor the attendance of students in these schools on January 1. If the schools register zero attendance or enrolment that day, the government will close the institutions by January 7,” Sarma said.

He said people would be able to call 18003453525 from Wednesday to lodge complaints about absence of teachers in lower and upper primary schools. The complaints will be verified by district education department officials, inquiries will be conducted and action initiated against the erring teachers.

Sarma also inaugurated the school activities monitoring mechanism today to bring accountability among teachers in high and higher secondary schools. Under the system, headmasters will receive calls on their cell phones from the Rastriya Madhyamik Shiksha Mission to know about the attendance status of teachers in their respective schools.

“The education department has also received Rs 50 crore from the state government to award scholarships to meritorious students in lower primary and upper primary schools,” Sarma added.