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Teacher recruitment fiasco, agitations becoming hot potato for Mamata government

Agitations by angry candidates continuing in different districts of Bengal.

kolkata Updated: Feb 18, 2017 12:45 IST
Tanmay Chatterjee
Tanmay Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
TET,West Bengal,Mamata Banerjee
Appointing primary teachers has become a major headache for chief minister Mamata Banerjee.(HT Photo)

With thousands of aspiring primary school teachers relentlessly taking to the streets in the districts and Kolkata over the past few days, alleging mismanagement in the recruitment process, the ruling Trinamool Congress may soon have to deal with another hot potato. For, recruitment of teachers ran into similar roadblocks over the last two years following countless litigations and political movements over alleged corruption and nepotism.

“Some people are simply trying to jeopardise the recruitment process. Those who have proper documents are being appointed,” said state education minister Partha Chatterjee on Friday. Even as he spoke, agitators who took the Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) for more than 60,000 jobs complained that either their appointment letters were being dismissed as “incomplete” or they were being appointed as ‘para teachers’ (assistants) and not teachers, as promised.

Hundreds of candidates are demonstrating every day in different districts throughout the state from Kolkata to Cooch Behar, Barasat to Birbhum.

Read: Opposition threaten to stall Mamata govt’s plan to recruit 72,000 schoolteachers

“Officials at West Bengal Board of Primary Education (WBBPE) talked to each candidate for around 10 seconds before turning them away,” alleged Silpi Mitra, a candidate in Kolkata. A few successful candidates also alleged that only those who had bribed the “right people” were getting jobs. The agitations were continuing even till the wee hours of Saturday.

Incidentally, in August 2015, the government had to order a CID probe into the disappearance of TET question papers from a bus after the CPI-M and Congress organised movements, alleging foul play and involvement of Trinamool leaders. The test was postponed till October that year. The results, however, had to be postponed again because of litigation started by candidates who had undergone formal training before appearing for TET. Finally, in September 2016, the Calcutta High Court directed WBBPE to publish the results by giving preference to those trained by Primary Teachers Training Institute (PTTI).

“This is a mountain of corruption. The number of court cases has increased over the years. So, I have appealed to the Calcutta High Court to club them together and give a combined hearing to all,” said noted lawyer Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya who is representing quite a few candidates.

“Many candidates had alleged that they were promised jobs against bribes going up to Rs 9-10 lakh,” Bhattacharya told HT.

Incidentally, the BJP, which took out a mammoth procession in Purulia on Friday on this issue, suffered a blow on January 14 when its Bengal vice president and spokesperson, Jaiprakash Majumdar was arrested by the state police on charges of taking Rs 7.20 lakh from a candidate’s brother. Enthused by the continuing success of the land movement at Bhangar, Congress and CPI-M leaders are all set to turn on the political heat.

In the teacher’s eligibility test conducted in 20013 less than 2% qualified. In August 2015 TET was postponed following disappearance of question papers from a bus in Hooghly district. Government ordered CID probe.

In October 2015 while the test was going on there were allegations that questions were leaked on social media.

In September 2016 Calcutta High Court asked the government to release results but giving preference to trained candidate during recruitment. Finally this month, results were sent to the candidates though text messages for the first time.

First Published: Feb 18, 2017 12:45 IST