Gangtok: Over 800 ad-hoc Sikkim teachers have been left unsure about their future after they were let go in June 2021 and then asked to appear for an interview in October.
The teachers, who were hired in October 2020, took to the streets on September 1 but were dealt with a heavy hand. One teacher was dragged out on all fours and hurled into a police vehicle. The District Magistrate declared Tashiling premises under Section 144 of the CrPC from 6 pm on September 1, following the gherao by the protesting ad-hoc teachers.
The teachers have been demanding extension of their teaching services following the abrupt end in their teaching service in June 2021, when a notification issued by the Education Department urged the teachers to appear for re-interview. A verbal assurance by the State government in July had asserted the re-interview to take place in July end with recruitment orders being handed out by August.
On September 1, a cluster of teachers walked into the Education Department demanding answers on the delay in reinterview from the Education Secretary Anil Raj Rai. The teachers claimed that the Secretary stalled the re-interview till October with COVID 19 protocols being one of the main reasons sorted by the official.
One of the teachers in the protest shared, “The government said the Sikkim Teachers Recruitment Board (STRB) has less number of employees. The government cited COVID to be a major problem for not being able to conduct the re-interview. When you know that COVID is such a big problem, then why release a notification calling for a recruitment interview of teachers in the first place?”
The teachers have given a proposal to the Secretary saying that “whenever the government wants to keep an interview, we are ready for it.”
“But until you conduct the interview, the teachers must be given an extension”, shared another teacher.
Secretary Anil Raj Rai, while addressing the teachers on September 1, said, “Whatever your grievances are please give it in black and white tomorrow. Your interview will happen from October 3, you want that in writing you will get it tomorrow (September 2). That has to be signed by SSTRB (Sikkim State Teachers Recruitment Board) also. Your interviews will be conducted by SSTRB. That should be clear with you all. Since the Secretary SSTRB is out on leave, by tomorrow, I will give you in writing that from October 3 your interviews will be conducted. Beyond that, I will take it up to the higher authorities. Additional Chief Secretary and Education Minister are both out of the station. That is the status currently.”
Another ad-hoc teacher laid focus on students suffering the most with the dismissal of 860 teachers. She shared, “Our students send us personal messages saying that they have no one to teach them currently.The school syllabus has not been completed. Who is looking after that concern? These concerns are important, hence we have gathered here today to get something concrete from the government.”
“There are no science teachers or Graduate Teachers for Math or even for Arts subjects. The students are facing problems. The government is getting data of only the urban areas but the situation is grimmer in rural parts of Sikkim. As in urban areas, teachers quota is fulfilled, but the education needed for students in rural areas, they are not getting the same”.
Following the meeting on September 2, the teachers were assured that the re-interview process will begin on October 3. However, it remains to be seen whether it will actually go as planned.
Once the teachers are recruited after these interviews, there will be no further interviews for these selected candidates. They will continue working for 8 (eight) years. Once they complete the eight-year service, they will be brought under regular establishment after following the required procedure.
Meanwhile, in the event of any vacancy arising due to retirement or any other reasons, the SSTRB will further conduct such interviews on a yearly basis, statement released by the Education Department, just now on the interview on October 3, said the education department via a press release after the meeting chaired by Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay on September 2.
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