Bihar: Contractual Teachers up Ante on Reintroduction of Old Pension Scheme
Patna: Thousands of contractual school teachers in Bihar threatened to intensify their protest for reintroduction of the Old Pension Scheme (OPS) and other demands including salary on par with regularised teachers working in various government schools and removal of “anti-teacher” provisions from the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
Angry over Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s repeated warning to contractual school teachers for not performing duties, Bihar Rajya Prathmik Shikshak Sangh’s president Brajnandan Sharma told NewsClick on Thursday that the state government should implement the OPS for teachers, mostly contractual school teachers, who have been deprived of it.
The RSS or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (which is backing the BJP government at the Centre), was totally against the new National Pension System (NPS) that is a contribution-based scheme, he said.
“Restoration of the old pension scheme was one of the main demands of teachers during the day-long maha dharna in Patna two days ago. Thousands of teachers from different parts of the state participated in it. If the government does not fulfil our demands, teachers will be forced to intensify protests soon,” Sharma said.
A contractual teacher in a government middle school in Arwal district, Akhilesh Prasad, told NewsClick that their demand for pay on par with permanent teachers has not been fulfilled to date and now the government is not keen to reintroduce the old pension scheme. “We will fight for both demands,” Prasad said.
Similar voices were shared by Ramesh Singh, a primary school teacher in the Jehanabad district and Naushad Alam in the Gaya district. Both Singh and Alam said the state government should reintroduce OPS for teachers. “We are also not getting our salary on time. The government is giving salary after three to six months,” they said.
Another RSS leader Nagendra Nath Sharma told NewsClick that the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader and deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav time and again promised to restore the old pension scheme for teachers if his party came to power. Unfortunately, so far the government has not done anything. “As the Mahagathbandhan-led government is in power now, Tejashwi should restore the old pension scheme immediately. He should follow the path of some states that restored it”, he added.
Manoj Kumar, working president of the RSS, in Bihar, told NewsClick that NPS is redundant as it hardly provides adequate assistance for livelihood after retirement. “Teachers have been demanding the reintroduction of the old pension scheme as the best option for the post-retirement period. NPS does not guarantee minimum pension to teachers,” he told NewsClick.
He recalled that contractual teachers ended their 78-day indefinite strike due to the COVID-19 pandemic on the state government's assurance (BJP was part of the government then) that they will look into the demands. “But the government is not serious and is not even inviting associations of contractual teachers as it had promised. It is nothing but humiliation and insult for the contractual teachers,” Kumar added.
He said hundreds of retired government teachers in the last few years were struggling to survive because they were not getting sufficient pensions under NPS.
According to officials of the Education Department in Patna, the average monthly salary of a contractual teacher ranges between Rs 25,000 and Rs 32 000 per month.
However, depending on their seniority permanent teachers get paid between Rs 75,000 and Rs 95,000 per month, depending on their seniority. Similarly, permanent teachers will get pensions and contractual teachers will get nothing.
Teacher Eligibility Test (TET), State Teacher Eligibility Test (STET) Qualified Teachers Association, Bihar Madhyamik Shikshak Sangh and Bihar Secondary School Teachers’ Association (BSSTA) have been demanding the old pension scheme for teachers in the state.
As per reports, there are more than four lakh contractual school teachers from primary, middle to high schools in the state.
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