|Bratya Basu (top); Partha Chatterjee
Calcutta, June 20: The chairpersons of 14 district primary school councils appointed during the tenure of former education minister Bratya Basu were removed today by the school education department, now headed by Partha Chatterjee.
In an order issued today, the education department termed the move “routine restructuring”. A section of officials in the department, however, said the removals were aimed at undoing the selections made during the tenure of Basu, who was shifted out of the education department in a cabinet shuffle on May 27.
The district primary school councils take decisions on the process of recruitment of teachers, the syllabus and other key issues. The replacements for the 14 chairpersons are expected to be named next week.
The chairpersons of the primary school councils in Calcutta, East and West Midnapore, Hooghly and Nadia have been retained.
Education minister Chatterjee refused to comment on the removals. “I have nothing to say on this. You should ask school education secretary Arnab Roy,” he told The Telegraph tonight. Roy did not take calls. Basu, who now holds the tourism portfolio, could not be contacted.
An education department official who did not wish to be named said the move could be aimed at “drawing up a team” of the education minister’s choice. “The remaining five district primary school council chairpersons could be removed shortly,” the official said.
A day after taking over as the education minister, Chatterjee had struck down Basu’s decision to introduce centralised online admission to undergraduate colleges, citing lack of preparedness. The centralised online system had been planned to curb alleged irregularities in the admission process.
The chairperson of a primary school council who has been retained said he and the other four had not been removed probably because some crucial administrative work was pending in their districts.
Another school education department official said: “Although primary school teachers are now recruited through the Teacher Eligibility Test (TET), the district primary school councils have a say in the process. Allegations have been made that a section of employees in the councils and the department have worked in tandem to influence the recruitment process.”
Allegations of irregularities in recruitment of primary school teacher this year had been made by Opposition parties and many candidates in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls.
At a campaign rally in Malda, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had referred to the TET controversy and asked who the “beneficiaries” were.
Of the 17.5 lakh candidates who wrote the test on March 31 last year, 18,793 had qualified and were recruited.
“There were allegations that many candidates close to the ruling party had got jobs. Allegations had also been levelled that payments had to be made to secure jobs,” said a source in Trinamul’s education cell. The ruling party has denied such charges.