The state government has come in for criticism over its treatment of contractual teachers, the latest group of educators to launch an agitation.
In January 2021, the state government terminated the services of teachers who did not clear the Meghalaya Teachers Eligibility Test (MTET), which the government made mandatory in 2020. Several contractual teachers are also now over the age limit and have been under contract for more than 12 years.
The Meghalaya Government Lower Primary School Teachers’ Association (MGLPSTA) began its protest against the state government here yesterday.
Today, TMC legislator George Lyngdoh and suspended Congress legislator Mayralborn Syiem expressed disappointment with the government’s handling of the issue and concern for the students.
Lyngdoh said the party felt the government should have approached the matter in a phased manner. Instead the government has left many teachers unemployed with some of them being unlikely to find new work given their age.
“It is very unfair considering the service and the hardships which they faced to give the best to the students and on meagre salaries. But then suddenly, out of the blue, the government decided to do away with their services and at the same time appoint new teachers,” Lyngdoh said, adding that, despite this state of affairs, there are still schools with vacant teacher posts that the government has been unable to fill.
“We have schools now where there are no teachers. The state is suffering. For two years academic progress has been affected because of Covid-19. Now, in the third year, we’re seeing the government not being able to appoint teachers and, therefore, the educational needs of the children are being affected across the state,” the Umroi MLA said.
Meanwhile, Syiem said that teachers across several categories are resentful of the government. Ad hoc and SSA teachers had recently launched separate agitations before coming to agreements with the government.
“It is a huge task for the government and the Education Department. As legislators, it is time for us to address this issue so a proper policy needs to come up and solve this issue in a phase-wise manner,” Syiem said.
As a stop-gap measure, the Nongpoh MLA has suggested that the government appoint these contractual out-of-work teachers as officiating teachers at schools that are short-staffed.