Agartala (Tripura): This northeastern state is heading for an educational crisis, because according to a court order, over ten thousand government teachers (10,323 to be exact) will lose their jobs by December 31.
In a major blow to a section of teachers in Tripura, a letter from HRD ministry has said salaries of teachers sanctioned under the Sarva Siksha Abhijan (SSA) will be shifted to the state sector in relation to vacancies and will not be funded by the Centre.
The letter said the SSA authorities will not fund salaries and other expenditure incurred because of engagement of such teachers. Tripura faced a crisis of schoolteachers after the Supreme Court upheld a previous Tripura High Court verdict to terminate 10,323 teachers in the state after December 31 this year. The court said certain selection parameters in recruitment rules of the said teachers were unconstitutional.
SSA teacher and state working committee member of the Tripura Contract Teachers and Employees Association Nirmalendu Debnath said, “This is a serious issue. We shall take it up with the state government.”
The letter from Maneesh Garg, joint secretary in HRD ministry, said, “The department has been emphasising to the states during meetings that they should fill up the state vacancies first before filling up the posts under SSA.”
Regarding further recruitments, the ministry has asked state governments to assess demand and supply by taking into account issues of teacher deployment, count surplus teachers, single-teacher schools and schools with adverse student-teacher ratio.
“Further recruitment of teachers should only be considered after the need assessment post rationalisation and deployment,” the letter said.
Tripura currently has 5,145 teachers under the SSA. Nearly 400 are engaged under the Rashtriya Madhyamik Siksha Abhiyan (RMSA).
Reacting to the new guideline, Tripura SSA Teachers’ Welfare Association president Sajal Deb said the onus lies with the state government to save the livelihood of over 5,000 teachers. Teachers engaged under SSA were recruited through Tripura Sarva Siksha Mission and are maintained as a separate cadre.
In March this year, the Supreme Court upheld a 2014 Tripura high court order which terminated the services of 10,323 government teachers employed by the state government in 2010 and 2013 as they were appointed by a policy not compliant to the obligatory qualifications mandated by the Right to Education Act (RTE), 2009. The Supreme Court asked the state government to initiate a fresh recruitment policy under the Teachers Eligibility Test as prescribed under the RTE Act by May 31 and complete the process by December 31.
In May this year, the state government purportedly tried to circumvent the Supreme Court’s order by announcing the recruitment of 12,000 non-teaching staff in the education department. This was a result of the criticism the state government was facing at the hands of the opposition – particularly the BJP – as the employees would likely lose their jobs due to their ineligibility under the Act. The posts, which required a minimum of three years of teaching experience, included that of academic counsellor (1,200 posts), student counsellor (3,400), school library assistant (1,500), hostel warden (300) and school assistant (5,600). As per local media reports, the decision was ostensibly to “accommodate” those teachers.