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Bihar: Thousands of Contractual School Teachers Protest Against Competency Test

The Niyojit Shikshaks ignored the administration’s threat to not join the protest or face legal action and even lose jobs if found absent from duty.
Thousands of contractual school teachers in Bihar, locally known as Niyojit Shikshaks took to the streets and staged a protest in Patna on Tuesday

Image for representational use only. Image Courtesy: PTI

Patna: Thousands of contractual school teachers in Bihar, locally known as Niyojit Shikshaks took to the streets and staged a protest in Patna on Tuesday (February 13).

The protesting teachers also tried to gherao the Bihar Assembly during the ongoing budget session against the government’s latest decision to make it mandatory for them to clear the competency examination to get state government employee status. However, heavy security forces deployed by the state government forcibly stopped the sloganeering protestors more than 500 metres away from the Assembly’s main gate.

Taking note of the protest by Niyojit Shikshaks, Bihar Education Minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary told the media that the government would look into their demands. He assured contractual teachers that the government had not yet decided to remove or sack those who failed to clear competency examinations.

On Tuesday morning, the agitating contractual teachers from across the state assembled at Gardanibagh – a protest site in Patna, not far from the Assembly premises. They ignored the warning of the education department's additional chief secretary K K Pathak not to join the protest against competency examination or face legal action and even lose their jobs if found absent from duty.

The protesters staged a dharna with posters, banners and placards and raised slogans against the state government for ignoring their demands and going ahead with the process to conduct competency examination.

There are over 3.5 lakh contractual school teachers in the state.

The protesting teachers are also opposing the government's decision to conduct only "online" competency examinations in place of offline.

Early this month (February 3), an official notice was issued by the education department with regard to the competency examination.

After that several associations of contractual school teachers publicly opposed the state government's recent order and also strongly objected to the provision of maximum three attempts or losing their jobs. They also burnt the copies of the recommendation of the education department panel.

In the last week of December 2023, the then Mahagathbandhan government had announced that it would give state government employee status to contractual school teachers. This was a big move to fulfil an old demand of contractual school teachers after repeated protests.

The Bihar Rajya Prathmik Shikshak Sangh (BRPS) and Bihar Madhyamik Shikshak Sangh (BMSS) have threatened to launch a protest if contractual teachers lose their jobs after not clearing competency examinations.

Earlier, both these associations had demanded state government employee status for contractual school teachers “without any condition”.

As per the official notice, all contractual school teachers will have to fill the forms for the competency examination between February 1-15, which will be held from February 26 to March 13.

According to an official, last year, the government had decided to grant government employee status, as per the Bihar School Specialist Teachers Rules, 2023. It was to benefit all contractual school teachers appointed since 2006 through Panchayati Raj Institutions and Urban Local Bodies.

Under the Bihar State School Teachers (appointment, transfer, disciplinary action and service condition) Rules, 2023, teachers would be appointed under one standardised process and have status equivalent to state government employees with separate district cadres.

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