Move over assault rifles, it’s time to let chalks do the talking.
As the para-teacher strike continues across the state, crippling thousands of primary and middle schools, CRPF jawans are being sent to some cradles on stopgap teaching assignments.
On Saturday, four such CRPF jawans from the 133rd battalion in camouflages took classes at Ranchi’s Jagannathpur Government Middle School. One of the biggest government middle schools in the city with over 1,200 students from Classes I to VIII, teaching here had been severely compromised with 11 para-teachers not turning up in the ongoing deadlock with the state.
This is the fifth day that the CRPF men were pitching in, said deputy commandant of the 133rd battalion Santosh Kumar on Saturday. “In all, this school had 25 teachers, including the 11 para-teachers. We wanted to do our bit for students suffering owing to the para-teacher strike,” he said when asked what prompted them to send their men to the Jagannathpur school.
“We read media reports, we also get affected by what’s going on,” he further said, adding men from their battalion were teaching at Latehar and Palamau schools too.
All four were graduates interested in teaching, he said.
True enough, constable V.K. Yadav was seen asking students of Class VIII maths questions to check if their basic concepts were clear. “I wrote down numbers and asked them to say them aloud to understand the basic units, tens, 100s, 1000s concept.”
Sub-inspector K.P. Tiwari said he was taking pains with English grammar. “I think all of us want to focus on teaching concepts to students so that they can pick up the syllabus fast,” he said. “So, we are starting with the basics rather than picking up from where the para-teachers left,” he said, adding that before he joined the CRPF, he had worked as a teacher for a short while.
Students certified the CRPF jawans as “good teachers”. “These new sirs explain well,” said Sheetal of Class VIII.
Teacher Meena Prasad agreed. “The absence of para-teachers had been affecting our classes. We did not suspend our classes but had to club together many classes. But ever these CRPF personnel have come, they have been of great help,” Prasad said.
Para-teachers have been agitating for months for a pay hike and regularisation of services. But matters came to a head on November 15 at the Statehood Day event in Ranchi when para-teachers protested at the venue and were caned by the police. Neither the state nor para-teachers are willing to enter into talks since then.