The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CM money sermon for teachers

Calcutta, Nov. 30: The teacher in the chief minister broke through the politician’s shell at a school in his own constituency today as Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee went back to his days in the classroom and lectured teachers on how to churn out better students.

Shikshakra aajkal boddo beshi taka-taka koren (Teachers nowadays are hankering after money),” Bhattacharjee said, refusing to mince words as he spoke to a gathering of teachers and students after inaugurating a computer centre and a reconstructed building at the Bagha Jatin Prantapalli High School this evening.

Most teachers had become money-oriented, he regretted.

If he expected that his words would be music to teachers’ ears, he was wrong. The All-Bengal Teachers’ Association, the teachers’ wing of the party (the CPM) that chose Bhattacharjee as its chief minister, was quick to take umbrage.

“The ABTA has been doing for quite some years what the chief minister preached today,” association spokesperson Lutful Alam said later in the evening. He admitted that he was yet to get a “report” of what Bhattacharjee said at the high school but reminded that the ABTA was coaching students free in the districts. “We are doing that for quite some time,” Alam added.

Inaugurating the computer training centre for children, Bhattacharjee admitted that living had become more expensive. “But the problems now have much more to do with the mind-set than with finances,” he said.

Bhattacharjee turned to his own life as a teacher to substantiate what he said. “Aami khub borolok bari theke ashi ni, mukhe sonar chamche niye jonmai ni (I am not from a rich family, I was not born with a golden spoon),” the chief minister said. He recollected how teachers used to call students home to pay them extra attention after school. “Never could we imagine that this would mean money changing hands.”

The chief minister went on to spell out the dos for the teachers today. “Pay special attention to those who are weak and also to those who are better than average.

“Teachers must take the responsibility of moulding students,” he said, cautioning that complacence could spell doom for schools.

Bhattacharjee also told teachers that opposition to English from the primary level would do more harm than good. “There is no alternative to English as it is the language of development and progress,” he said.

But the chief minister was not all sermon. Referring to a recent discussion with Azim Premji, Bhattacharjee recounted that the Wipro chief had told him 50 per cent of his techies were from this state. “And, out of them, 70 per cent are from Jadavpur University,” Bhattacharjee said.

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