GUWAHATI, Feb 4 - The primary education system in the State was paralysed as the Assam State Primary Teachers’ Association (ASPTA) launched a three-day Statewide strike today over its demands.
The demands of ASPTA, which has over one lakh teachers as its members, include creation of a head teacher’s post in every primary school, salary of all head teachers under provisions of the Seventh Pay Commission, payment of Rs 8,700 as grade pay to all graduate teachers, regularisation of service of all contractual teachers, provincialisation of all primary schools, appointment of optimum number of teachers in every primary school, supply of uniforms, textbooks and notebooks to all students in time, preparation of service rules for primary teachers and formation of an Education Commission.
In a statement, ASPTA general secretary Ratul Chandra Goswami claimed that due to the strike, no classes were held at 39,000 lower primary schools of the State. He said they have not yet got any response from the State government. Rather, the State Education Minister was trying to gag their voices of protest, Goswami alleged.
The ASPTA general secretary further said, “We had met the Education Minister at his office on June 19 last year with our charter of demands and he had assured us of settling all issues within 45 days. But, till now no action has been taken, forcing us to call the non-cooperation strike. Due to the negligence of the State Education Department and the Minister, children of the State will lose three academic days.”
Goswami said that the Education Minister had organised the meeting last year after a strike by the teachers on June 18, 2018. On August 13, 2018, the Commissioner of Education, too, had assured us of solving all issues of the primary teachers within August 30 last year.
“Our demands were put in a file and now the file is shuttling between the Finance and Education departments. We are frustrated with the government and ultimately decided to call this three-day strike. Even the State government did not respond to the voices raised by hundreds of primary school teachers on January 11 in Guwahati, when the ASPTA had given a 15-day deadline to the authorities to settle our issues,” Goswami said.
Meanwhile, reacting to the non-cooperation movement of primary school teachers, Education Minister Siddhartha Bhattacharya told this reporter over phone this evening that the decision for the non-cooperation strike was one-sided. He urged the agitating teachers to prioritise the interest of the students of Assam as “losing of a single academic day is great loss for a student”. Bhattacharya said the department is yet to initiate a discussion with the agitating teachers.