Odisha: On Wednesday, after closing over 54,000 schools throughout the state, approximately 1.30 lakh teachers took mass leave as the indefinite cease-work by primary teachers at state-run schools in Odisha began its sixth day.
40 Lakh Students Bear the Brunt as Teachers Demand Contract Reforms and Pension Restoration
About 40 lakh kids in state-run schools stayed home as teachers staged a protest calling for the repeal of the contractual recruitment system and the reinstatement of previous pensions. The Odisha government urged the teachers to call off their protest, but they persisted. Last Friday, September 8, teachers operating under the United Primary Teachers Federation banner began an ongoing protest to press their claims, which include the elimination of the contractual appointment system, an increase in grade pay, and the reinstatement of the previous pension plan. Brahmananda Maharana, an agitating teacher, claimed that since the administration did nothing to accede to their requests, the disgruntled teachers went on mass leave and organised demonstrations outside the offices of block education officers (BEOs).
56000 Schools in Crisis as Teachers Demand Action
Primary education in 56,000 schools has suffered significantly as a result of the protests. After prayers, most schools were locked, although others still had one or two teachers teaching. “Instead of looking into our demands, the government has constituted a sub-committee. When an inter-ministerial panel has already been constituted, what is the need of the sub-committee?” a teacher leader asked. He also alleged that the sub-committee was formed “only to delay the process”. The state government has come under fire from the opposition BJP and Congress for failing to address the concerns of school teachers. Anil Biswal, a BJP state spokesperson, claimed that despite the passage of five days, the administration has not addressed the people’s complaints. He claimed that the state’s entire educational system has practically collapsed as a result of the state government’s indifference.
Opposition Questions Government Priorities Amidst Teacher Protests
“When the government can spend Rs 500 crore on the chopper ride of a secretary, why are they unable to pay proper salary to the teachers?” asked the BJP leader. Sarat Pattanayak, president of the state congress, claimed that the education system in Odisha has become “emergency-like.” He claimed that the government is doing little to address their problems. However, BJD MLA Arabinda Dhali asserted that the state administration would unquestionably consider their sincere requests.