The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sham slur on teacher recruitment drive

Calcutta, Nov. 17: Political circles in the state are agog with the allegation that the government’s move to recruit about 12,000 teachers through the School Service Commission (SSC) is an eyewash.

Going by reports, the CPM, the driving force behind Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government, has successfully pressured the SSC — packed with faithfuls — to make a “show” of a recruitment drive before the panchayat elections in May.

The idea behind the exercise is twofold: to make the vast teaching community feel comfortable once again with the government that has, of late, come through as “anti-teacher”, thanks to a string of disciplinary measures; and, to tingle the feel-good factor among the rural electorate.

The government’s stated position is that it is being forced to recruit a large number of teachers despite a cash crunch because the lack of trained teachers in secondary and higher secondary schools and madarsas is affecting the functioning of the institutions.

However, officials today said the SSC’s move to recruit teachers would be best understood if seen against the fact that the schools in need of manpower have not appointed more than a few hundred of the 12,000-odd candidates the commission empanelled last year.

“No one is sure at this point what the SSC (read the government) has in mind,” said an official. “If last year’s experience is anything to go by, the recruitment drive may not lead to jobs on the ground.”

Political observers and Opposition parties feel the CPM is trying to engage the commission in trying to woo the rural electorate before the election to the three-tier panchayat.

The party has probably realised that its decision to field lesser number of teachers in the polls may not go down well with the teaching community.

The commission had conducted its last examination in October, 2001. It had also prepared a panel of 12,000 candidates for the purpose. But most of those who were empanelled last year have yet to get their appointment letters.

This time, too, the commission will not declare the number of vacant posts for which the examinees would compete. It will only announce the subjects for which they may apply.

It is learnt that the commission will hold the examination to recruit teachers in more than 50 subjects, probably a record in its short span of functioning.

Last year, about 3.2 lakh candidates had appeared in the examination. The commission is expecting about 5 lakh candidates this time.

The cost of taking the test, however, will be higher for the candidates. The application fee was Rs 220 last year, this time it will be more, commission sources indicated.

The government has apparently asked the commission to raise the fees as it wants it to earn enough to make ends meet.

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