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Govt faces provincialisation backlash

- MLAs across party lines oppose bills

Members of the All Assam Recognised ME Teachers' Association protest in Guwahati on Monday. Picture by UB Photos

Guwahati, March 6: The Assam government today tabled two new bills for provincialisation of venture educational institutions, recognised by the state government till January 1, 2006, amid protests by a few legislators of the ruling party, its allies and the Opposition in the Assembly.

Parliamentary affairs minister Chandra Mohan Patowary tabled The Assam Education (Provincialisation of Services of Teachers and Re-organisation of Educational Institutions) Bill, 2017, and Assam Junior Colleges (Provincialisation) (Amendment) Bill, 2017, on behalf of education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma who is campaigning in Manipur for the elections.

Apart from provincialising (bringing under government employment) venture educational institutions, the bills seek to re-organise and streamline educational institutions up to the degree level to conform to the standards and restrict further mushrooming of such institutions.

Venture educational institutions were set up by local communities from time to time and many of them have been recognised by the state government. Only the recognised institutions are considered for provincialisation.

More than 8,490 venture schools were provincialised under the Assam Venture Educational Institutions (Provincialisation of Services) Act, 2011 till the law was declared constitutionally invalid by Gauhati High Court in September last year. Hundreds of such institutions are still awaiting provincialisation and teachers have been demanding the same.

The new bills say any order issued after January 1, 2006 for recognition shall not be considered for provincialisation.

Under the bills, only two teachers/tutors (see chart) of a recognised venture primary school (classes I to V) shall be provincialised and their services merged with a base school (an existing provincialised school or a school recognised for provincialisation) identified in respect of the area where the venture school was situated. "After the merger with the base school, the norm for the minimum number of teachers as specified in the schedule for the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 shall be followed. The deficit in a number of posts of teachers in base school shall be filled up as per norms in the RTE Act for teachers' appointment," says the bill. The services of teachers in venture degree colleges, junior colleges and venture higher secondary schools shall be considered for provincialisation as per the University Grant Commission and National Council for Teacher Education Act, 1993, norms.

As soon as Patowary sought the House's permission for introduction of the bills, AGP legislator Phani Bhushan Choudhury asked what would be the fate of the venture educational institutions recognised after January 1, 2006. "This will also create problem for venture colleges which partly received recognition before January 1, 2006 and partly later," he said.

BJP legislator Tapan Gogoi said schools recognised after January 1, 2006 should also be provincialised on humanitarian grounds. BPF legislator Rabiram Narzary said the institutions under Bodoland Territorial Council should be exempted from the cut-off date as many of them could not apply for recognition before because of violence in the area at that time. The AGP and the BPF are allies of the BJP-led government. Serman Ali of Congress also demanded the same.


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