PATNA: In a major relief to students who had appeared for the Class 10 and Class 12 examinations conducted by Bihar School of Education Board (BSEB), teachers entrusted with the task of evaluating their answer sheets, called off their strike on Saturday.
The teachers agreed to join evaluation work after education minister Ashok Choudhary assured them most of their demands would be considered. The assurance was given by the minister during talks with office-bearers of the Bihar Secondary Teachers Association and other associations here.
The secondary and intermediate (Class 12) teachers, working on contract basis, had been boycotting the evaluation work since April 1, to press their demand for pay parity with regular government teachers.
The protesting teachers were claiming that the government had backtracked on an agreement reached with them on May 12, 2015, to implement the principle of “equal pay for equal work”. Further, the government lodged FIRs against the “teachers who were peacefully protesting and boycotting the evaluation process”, they said.
Thousands of teachers in institutions getting financial aid from the government, were also staying away from evaluation work since March 17 in protest against delay in release of salary grant for them.
In Bihar, there are around 22,000 fixed-pay and 7,000 regular secondary teachers, who draw pay scales, besides around 15,000 teachers in aided secondary schools. As per norms, those with at least three years’ experience alone are eligible for evaluation work, while head examiners required five years’ experience.
The strike had put in jeopardy the careers of about 17.5 lakh students wrote their Class 10 examinations and about 13.5 lakh students who took their Class 12 papers. The Class 10 and 12 examinations were held in February-March this year.
Choudhary said the government had agreed to implement the teachers’ service conditions by May 15. The performance-based grant for inter teachers, pending since 2008, would be paid in instalments. The first part of the payment, for three years since 2008, would be cleared by May 30, he said.
The remaining amount would be paid by March 2018, he added. He also assured the teachers the government would look into their demand for withdrawal of FIRs registered against a number of them.
The minister, however, did not give any assurance on the protestors’ main demand of pay parity with regular teachers, saying the matter was sub judice and under consideration of the Supreme Court and the Patna high court. As for deficit grants, he said, a policy decision was yet to be taken in the matter.
A panic stricken BSEB had earlier asked the district magistrate of Patna to provide protection to evaluators drawn from private schools. However, the BSEB’s attempt to rope in evaluators from private schools yielded no result with the CISCE and CBSE boards had turned down the request on the plea that their fresh sessions had already commenced.
Any delay in evaluation would have deprived Bihar students from applying for admission to institutions outside the state.
This time, the BSEB has claimed it had adopted strict measures to sanitize the examinations, the sanctity of which had been hit following reports of mass cheating in 2015 and the intermediate examination toppers’ scam last year.
Govt has agreed to implement teachers’ service conditions by May 15. Performance-based grant for inter teachers, pending since 2008, will be paid in instalments, with first part to be cleared by May 30
Ashok Choudhary, education minister
The strike had put in jeopardy the careers of about 17.5 lakh students who wrote their Class 10 exams and about 13.5 lakh students who took their Class 12 papers