Bihar teachers’ recruitment scheme: Overhaul need of the hour

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Teachers's protest
Former Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who scored brownie points through various teachers' recruitment schemes between 2005 to 2008, is now in dock for various anomalies in the recruitment process. The issue is now blowing on his face after a report came into light which revealed that thousands of teachers had submitted forged degree to get jobs, and icing on the cake was that even the authorities gave clearance to the recruitments. Around one and a half lakh teachers were appointed at that time to employ the educated youths. Kumar was highly applauded for giving push to dismal record of school enrolment rate then, but with this startling report coming to fore and that too just before Assembly election will definitely give him sleepless nights in the coming days. JD (U) will have to think twice before taking any decision to overhaul the recruitment drive as any wrong move could prevent the Party from gaining good number of seats in the upcoming Assembly elections.

Meanwhile, swinging into action, Government has started cross-checking the authenticity of degrees submitted at the time of appointment and according to an Indian Express report, around 3500 teachers have been sacked till now. Leaving no scope of anomalies this time, Bihar Government is also conducting competency test and around 2,734 teachers have been given pink slip after they were found incompetent. If we segregate this, West Champaran is on the top of the chart with highest number (238), followed by Vaishali (128) and Jamui (106).

Thousands of teachers submitted forged degree to get jobs

Eyeing the major chunk of vote-bank, Kumar had started couple of teachers' recruitment programmes like Shikshak Niyojan and Siksha Mitra during the first stint of his tenure. Educated youth had given thumbs up to these schemes and grabbed the opportunity with open hand. Although it was not a best deal for contractual teachers as they were getting paltry salary of Rs 5,000. They were promised to be made permanent after some years but it has not happened so far and thus, Kumar continues to bear brunt for that.

Various schemes and their flaws

There were two schemes namely, Shikshak Niyojan and Siksha Mitra under which the former Chief Minister had recruited contractual teachers. In Siksha Mitra, degree was not an issue and the whole process was solemnized at the behest of Panchayata Mukhiyas. The process was highly flawed which ultimately encouraged nepotism and corruption. One had to oil the palm of village head to get this job which would pay them a paltry sum of Rs 4000.

"It was open season for the mukhiyas. They had the power to appoint these teachers, who were more than willing to pay a ‘tribute' in return. So, all kinds of people were taken in, including some unruly elements," a bemoaning Bihar official said.

University Degrees mattered most under the Shikshak Niyojan programme . Although initial criteria was only good score in class XII or in graduation and Bachelor of Education (B.Ed). But the process was changed in 2012 and teachers' eligibility test was made mandatory for the recruitment. One had to go through the test irrespective of their marks. The recent report of anomalies is related largely with the appointment which took place before 2012.

A nightmare for JDU Government

In recent times there have been quite a number of protests by these disgruntled contractual teachers. The angst among these teachers is because of the unfair deals given to them in comparison to the permanent lot. The permanent staff has better remunerations and facilities as compared to the contractual ones. And many a times, the wrangling between Nitish and teachers poses big problems for law and order situation in the State. In 2011, the former Chief Minister faced ignominy when he was shown black flags by the protesting teachers during his rallies in Begusarai, Muzaffarpur and Darbhanga. Couple of months after that Kumar's convoy was pelted in Khagaria district.

One of the protester said, "We are doing more work than a regular teacher; then why are we not eligible to become one?"

Another resentful teacher opined, "Even for basic non-financial benefits like causal leave, medical leave and special leave for women teachers, we had to fight. It took the government three years to give us a miserly increment of Rs 2,000. We want more"

As the gravity of situation could be gauged, if this will not be solved in time, then it will act as a roadblock for the JD(U) Government in the coming elections. Government should pull their socks and solve the issue as they can't afford to displease students' just before elections.

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