The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM foot in door of Christian schools

Calcutta, Oct. 21: For 25 years of Left rule, Christian missionary schools here had held out against the march of the CPM to which one educational institution after another had fallen. No more.

Over the past few months, nearly 100 teachers working in the 69 Anglo-Indian schools, mainly in Calcutta, have joined the CPM-controlled All Bengal Teachers’ Association (ABTA).

So far, abiding by the strict orders of the school authorities, nearly 2,000 teachers of these institutions have been grouped under a single apolitical organisation, the Association of Teachers of Anglo-Indian Schools.

Ismail Nehal, the association president and a senior teacher at St James School, admitted that many teachers have become members of the ABTA. Not only that, there is a strong demand from a large section of the association’s members to affiliate with a political group.

“In the last three or four months, some teachers of our association have joined the ABTA and the trend is unfortunately increasing,” Nehal said.

Prasanta Dhar, an ABTA leader, said he expected more teachers from Anglo-Indian schools to come over because of unhappiness over allegedly low basic salary.

The ABTA has organised a string of meetings to discuss ways to pressure Anglo-Indian schools to concede pending financial and other demands.

“We have already met Kanti Biswas, the school education minister, and requested him to take action against the schools for depriving teachers. We will hold a meeting immediately once the schools reopen after the puja vacation where we will discuss the problems in Anglo-Indian schools,” he said.

ABTA sources said one reason for the teachers joining their association was the experience during a July rally. Managements of some Anglo-Indian schools refused permission to teachers when they requested to be allowed to stay away from class that day so that they could participate in the rally organised by the apolitical association.

“Managements of some schools have been exploiting teachers for a long time but we find that the association, without attachment to any political group, is unable to do anything. We had no option but to join the ABTA,” said a teacher preferring anonymity.

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