Gangtok: The fate of 173 language teachers’ posts in Sikkim is hanging in the balance as the state government is yet to announce recruitment even after conducting a written examination and interview for the posts about four years ago.
In 2017, the Sikkim State Teachers’ Recruitment Board had floated an advertisement for the recruitment of 222 language teachers in the state.
Accordingly, prospective candidates were invited for the posts of post-graduate teachers, graduate teachers and primary teachers and a written examination and viva voce were conducted for recruitment.
Even though 49 post-graduate teachers — 19 for Lepcha language, 16 for Limboo and 14 for Bhutia — were subsequently recruited after their results were declared in 2019, the posts of 173 graduate teachers are still lying vacant.
Of the 173 vacant graduate teachers’ posts, 35 are reserved for Lepcha language, 20 for Bhutia and 17 for Limboo, apart from 101 for Nepali language teachers.
While candidates applying for the posts of language teachers in Lepcha, Bhutia and Limboo do not need to produce a Teachers’ Eligibility Test (TET) certificate, the qualification is mandatory for Nepali language teachers.
Earlier, a man named Balkrishna Dangal had challenged the recruitment process for 173 language teachers on the grounds that uniformity was not maintained for all the languages as per the criteria laid down by the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE).
However, on July 7 this year, the High Court of Sikkim dismissed the case, on the grounds that the state government has already withdrawn the employment notice for language teachers challenged in the writ petition, which now was ‘rendered infructuous’.
Even before the dismissal of the case, the state government had withdrawn the employment and other notices on March 25, 2020 cancelling the recruitment process.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, four language teacher applicants held a press conference on behalf of all the candidates, where they highlighted how they had completed the recruitment process in February 2019 itself.
“Since 2019, we have been enquiring about our recruitment, but the government including education department officials and CM Prem Singh Golay had been telling us that the only reason why we were not being recruited was because of the court case,” said Sosang Lepcha, one of the applicants for Lepcha graduate teacher.
“However, for the past two weeks, the case has stood dismissed. So, we went to ask the education department and the minister and secretaries concerned, but they were not present,” Lepcha added.
Another applicant Mohan Pradhan said: “We were assured by the CM that once the case would reach a conclusion, our results for recruitment would be declared. Doing so before the court verdict would have resulted in the case being sub judice. Instead of the results, we received cancellation order for our recruitment from the Sikkim Teachers’ Recruitment Board on December 25, 2019 stating that 173 GT posts stand cancelled. The reason they sorted then was the court case filed by Dangal.”
The applicants are now demanding that the chief minister and the education department must fulfill their promise and declare the results as early as possible so as to recruit them as the court case was dismissed now.
Meanwhile, apart from the 173 teachers, 350 primary language teachers are also awaiting recruitment. “The state government has laid focus on language teachers for some time now, with upgradation in higher education and introduction of post-graduation degrees in 2016 in Sikkim University and Sikkim State University,” said Binay Limboo, an applicant for Limboo graduate teacher.
“There are 20 applicants for each course, be it Bhutia, Lepcha or Limboo. Now, Sikkim University has even introduced PHD courses for such languages. But at the base in schools, there are more than just the three languages. There are other languages such as Mangar and Rai, besides other local languages,” added Limboo.
“These languages are taught in schools, but there is only one teacher for the students from the primary to the senior secondary level. Undoubtedly, there is a need for more language teachers, contrary to the surplus of teachers that people argue about. Hence, we feel the need is there, so the recruitment, specially of those that have already given their recruitment examination must be considered at once,” Limboo said.