More than 72,000 junior college teachers have threatened to boycott the upcoming Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) exams for the fifth time in a row, if their demands aren’t fulfilled in 10 days. The state’s education department delay in implementing the reforms promised to teachers in the past is what has upset them. Teachers want Information Technology (IT) to be made compulsory, as well as a separate paper for science.
The boycott will affect close to 17 lakh students across the state who will appear for the exams from February 28. In the city, 3.4 lakh students will appear for the exam from Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raigad.
Teachers met education minister Vinod Tawde on Wednesday, setting a deadline of March 3 for their demands to be implemented. If the department fails to comply, teachers said they would slow down the HSC assessment process by checking only one answer-sheet a day.
According to Anil Deshmukh, head of the Maharashtra Junior College Teachers Association, their repeated pleas have fallen on deaf ears since 2012-13, when the teachers threatened to boycott exams for the first time. “Every year, the government misleads us into withdrawing our protest by giving us false assurances,” said Deshmukh.
He added that last year, Tawde accepted the teachers’ demands, but the promised changes haven’t been initiated yet.
One of the teachers’ major demands is an increase in the salaries of IT teachers. “These teachers are paid meagre salaries of Rs5,000 a month— on the scale of temporary teachers — as the subject is optional,” said Deshmukh. “It is tough for them to survive with such low pay packages.”
Another demand is to approve staff hired after May 2, 2012. “The department stopped approving staff recruited after that date, without justifying their decision. Those teachers are not getting salaries owing to this,” said Deshmukh.
Students and parents are worried that the boycott will result in a delay in the HSC results being announced. In 2013, the board was forced to ask retired teachers for help as junior college teachers didn’t assess papers for 21 days.
Gangadhar Mhamane, chairperson of the Maharashtra state board of secondary and higher secondary education, said they met teachers last week and had forwarded the teachers’ complaints to the department.