The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Standby teachers to beat matric boycott

Guwahati, Feb. 24: The Secondary Education Board of Assam (Seba) raced against time to finalise an alternative list of invigilators for the High School Leaving Certificate (HSLC) examinations, beginning tomorrow, with recalcitrant teachers refusing to back out of their proposed boycott.

Over 3.5 lakh candidates will sit for the HSLC and Assam High Madrassa examinations in 314 centres across the state.

Seba secretary Dilwar Hussain admitted there could be 'some minor problems', but said he was confident the examinations could be held. 'We will start the examinations on time. The inspectors of schools are working overtime in all districts to finalise the list of people who will conduct the examinations.'

The board decided to draw up an alternative list of invigilators after the Assam Secondary School Teachers and Employees' Association turned down an appeal by the government to call off its boycott of the examinations.

'It is a long list but we hope to complete it in time for the examinations,' Hussain said.

Seba did not start drawing up the list until the last moment in the hope that the teachers would call off their strike before the examinations, just as they did last year.

As many as 14,000 retired primary and middle English school teachers will do duty at the examination centres till March 11.

Hussain claimed some of the teachers on strike had agreed to join duty from tomorrow, but Ashis Ranjan Dey, the general secretary of the association, dismissed it as a rumour spread by Seba to divide them.

Describing the government's approach to the crisis as 'callous', Dey said it was trying to undermine the teachers by holding the examinations in such a manner. 'It is a massive exercise that requires full commitment from the people involved. Will the hired teachers show the commitment that we do' he asked.

The general secretary said the government would be held responsible 'if something goes wrong'. He claimed members of the association were still ready to go back to work, but would like to first 'see the official order fulfilling our main demand'.

He accused the Tarun Gogoi-led Congress government of 'betraying' the teachers by going back on its promise to deposit their arrears in their provident accounts by August 2004. The payments were to be made in accordance with the 1998 pay revision.

Dispur warned of 'harsh action' against the teachers, while the All Assam Students' Union appealed to the association and the government to resolve the issue amicably.

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