Assam provincialises 422 tea garden-managed schools

Guwahati: The Assam government has provincialised as many as 422 schools managed by the tea garden authorities in the state.

The development, which is in sync with other welfare initiatives taken up by the state government in the tea belt, comes in the wake of a recent decision by the state Cabinet.

As a result of the initiative, these schools shall be able to avail the benefits of mid-day meals, uniforms and free textbooks in the coming days.

“In the public interest and in the academic interest of tea community, the Government of Assam in the Department of School Education is pleased to provincialise 419 tea garden managed lower primary (LP) schools, two tea garden managed ME (Middle English) schools and one garden managed high School, with the condition that the services of the existing teachers engaged by the tea garden management will not be provincialised,” secretary, Assam Department of School Education, stated in a notification.

“However, these teachers can continue to serve in the same school under the payroll of the concerned tea garden as on date,” the notification read.

“In this connection, two posts of teachers for each of the 419 LP Schools, three posts of teachers for each of the two ME Schools and the posts of five teachers and one headmaster for the high school, shall be created,” it read.

The notification further stated that the students of the schools so provincialised shall get the benefits of free textbooks and PM-POSHAN (mid-day meal), free uniform, etc.

Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma having mid-day meal with the students of Model School in Biswanath district

“The recruitment of teachers shall be done at the earliest. The concerned district elementary education officers and inspector of schools will ensure proper working relationship between the newly appointed teachers and the existing tea garden engaged teachers. Further, they will ensure a harmonious environment in the schools with better academic coordination,” it read.

“The teachers engaged by the tea garden authorities will also be given various facilities like in-house training of teachers and benefits of capacity-building programmes organised by the department of school education for teachers of other provincialised schools,” it read.

Commenting on the development, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “We are continuously working for the welfare of our tea garden communities. The provincialisation of 419 elementary schools and the establishment of 219 new high schools in tea gardens reflect our strong commitment to the community.”

The welcome development comes in contrast to a recent decision by the state education department to remove all venture schools from the category of recognised/government-aided schools in the Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE) and the subsequent move to remove these schools from the eligible list of PM POSHAN from this month.

The move attracted flak from Opposition parties, with the Assam Trinamool Congress terming it as unfortunate,

“It is unfortunate that the Assam education department has taken a decision not to provincialise schools recognised after January 1, 2006. The government, which spends Rs 100 crore to prepare for a mega Bihu event in a bid to create a world record, has now taken a decision that would adversely affect about 20,000 teachers of 2,319 non-provincialised schools. Such a move is unacceptable under any circumstance,” Assam TMC’s media department chairman Dilip Kumar Sarma said, while addressing mediapersons here.

“This is a shameful decision of the education department of a government that talks about making Assam one of the top five states in the country. The BJP had, in its 2016 election manifesto, promised to provincialise these schools but the government led by the party in the state has now turned a blind eye to these institutions,” Sarma alleged.

The party further termed the decision of the Samagra Shiksha Mission (Assam) to stop the supply of mid-day meals under the Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman scheme to these venture schools as “inhuman”. 

“We, the Assam Trinamool Congress, strongly oppose this decision and demand that the directive to stop mid-meals to these schools be withdrawn. We further demand provincialisation of all venture schools recognised after January 1, 2006,” the Assam TMC leader said.

In May last year, ushering in a new era of academic excellence in tea garden areas in Assam, chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma dedicated 96 newly built Model High Schools in tea garden areas at a function held in Sonitpur district and three more such schools in Biswanath district.

Speaking at the function in Sonitpur district, Sarma said the state government has, for the first time, set up model high schools in the tea garden areas to use education as a tool to bring about overall development of the people belonging to tea garden areas.

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“These schools will be able to impart qualitative and value-based education to the students to help them to bring laurels to the state. He also informed that in these 96 model schools as many as 14,594 students have enrolled their names. Eght faculty members in each school have been appointed which has ushered in a ray of hope in the tea garden areas,” he added.

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