At least 75,000 part-time schoolteachers in West Bengal will now have a permanent job with the state deciding to create a new education board. The proposed board will come into effect on July 1.
These teachers, appointed under the panchayat department’s Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), will now have a renewable five-year contract instead of the annual contract. They will also get a 35 per cent salary hike.
“The SSA teachers have been made permanent. All schools under the new board will have a different status,” state Panchayat and Rural Development Minister Anisur Rahman said.
There is, however, a question mark on the standard of the new board as the minimum qualification for the appointment of SSA teachers was Class X, making them grossly under-qualified to teach Class X students.
Also, the increased salary will add to the financial strain of the state, which has run up a debt of Rs 1,920 billion, a fiscal deficit of Rs 228.42 billion and a debt repayment figure that wipes out its tax revenues.
The government is yet to decide on the number of schools under the SSA that will be upgraded to the Class X level.
Teachers form a crucial support base for the CPI-M, which, with a steadily eroding vote bank, faces an acid test in the assembly elections next year.