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'Centre, Mamata Govt Destroying Public Education': Teachers' org hits Streets

he teachers' protest, led by ABTA, took an oath to save the public education system by forming a united movement.

Kolkata: The All Bengal Teachers Association (ABTA) has accused both Central and state governments of trying to destroy the public education system. Education is becoming increasingly expensive for children of poor, underprivileged families as a result of government schemes, the teachers’ organisation said on Tuesday at Bikash Bhavan while holding a protest march with a set of demands.

A call was raised from the gathering to take an oath to save the public education system by forming a united movement.

On Tuesday, a teachers’ protest on the same lines also took place in Karunamayi, Kolkata.

ABTA also noted a lack of swift, transparent recruitment in madrasas and schools and demanded exemplary punishment for those involved in recruitment corruption, retaliatory transfers under the guise of administrative transfers. It also called for elimination of pay disparities for teachers and teaching staff, equal pay for cooperative work, and inclusion of all teachers and teaching staff in the health scheme.

Sukumar Pain, the association’s general secretary, spoke at protest meeting on the state’s “subpar educational system” in his inaugural address. He said “efforts have begun to implement the National Education Policy 2020 in the state in many ways. The universal education system will consequently be in jeopardy. The state’s education system has been tainted by ongoing corruption and politicisation,” adding that the administration spends “money on fairs, festivals, and grants while depriving teachers of their rights as professionals and treating them fairly.”

Addressing the rally, CPI(M) Rajya Sabha MP and advocate Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya said, “The Central government is trying to ‘scar’ and spread an unscientific spirit in the heart of the country… Atrocities against dalits and minorities are increasing. Upper caste dominance is increasing. The right to education, which is recognised by the Constitution, is being watered down today.”

“The government’s plan is to close government-run schools. The process has begun. During the Left Front period, schools could not accommodate students due to overcrowding. At present, there are lakhs of teacher vacancies in the country and as well as in states. Farmers fought for more than a year to realise their rights to the land and won. We have to fight with that mentality,” he added.

Citing the case of West Bengal, Bhattacharya said, “Many primary schools in the state are facing closure. After that, high schools, colleges, and universities will be closed gradually. The government that wants to shake off all its responsibilities. Besides, the number of private schools and colleges is increasing. Education is being handed over to corporations.”

The rally, with representation from every district of West Bengal, demanded the cancellation of the New National Education Policy, 2020, protection of the public education system, speedy and transparent recruitment in all vacant posts, strict punishment for those involved in recruitment and transfer corruption, immediate payment of dearness allowance dues, and equal pay for co-workers, among others.

Two delegations from ABTA visited Bikash Bhavan and the Madrasa Education Department to submit their demands.

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