In the first ever protest against the new SAD-BJP government in the state on Sunday, around a dozen teachers running special training centres (STC) climbed atop a water tank at Bhokhra village of Bathinda district.
Working in the government schools for the past one year, the teachers are up in arms over dismissal letters. They stepped down from their position in the afternoon upon an assurance of a meeting with chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on March 20.
Sunday morning, the villagers of Bhokhra woke up in surprise at the sound of anti-government slogans from the top of the water tank. Another 100 STC teachers were on the ground below, supporting the protest. They all wanted permanent jobs.
Similar extreme protests kept the police busy in the entire year before the general assembly elections. The STC teachers’ union had its first protest at Gill Patti village near Bathinda on the day the election commission imposed its model code of conduct for candidates.
“Before the elections, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had assured education guarantee scheme (EGS) teachers that they’d be adjusted in the government schools for a pay of R3,500 a month each,” said Mandeep Singh, president of the Special Training Centre Union (STCU). “If the government can keep the EGS teachers on job, why give us the relieving orders.”
The administration has agreed to get leaders of the STCU appointment with the CM. “If on March 20, the demands remain,” said Mandeep Singh, “we will intensify our protest. Only the schemes’ names are different; otherwise, the STC teachers do the same work the EGS volunteers had before shutting of their centers in 2008.”
Each of the protesters has elementary teacher (ETT) and bachelor of education (Bed) qualifications. They train more than 50,000 children from across the state either in school or in the dropout programme under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) (Centre’s universal education campaign).
The session at the Special Training Centres (STC) is to get on in April.Nearly 1,800 STC teachers work in the government schools across the state.
The purpose is to bring students into mainstream education system by bringing them to the level of education required of their age.
Under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, the students are first enrolled in the schools this time, and trained at the STC side by side. “We deserve to keep our jobs,” said protest leader Mandeep Singh. “We are ready to fight for the cause.” Or shout from the top.