Ahead of 2021 polls, Assam 'regularises' services of 46,000 teachers

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Assam’s Bharatiya Janata Party-led government has ‘regularised’ services of more than 46,000 teachers in the state’s government schools, ahead of the assembly elections next year.

Though the decision in this regard was taken at a cabinet meeting on May 26, the announcement was made on Sunday by education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma at a press conference in Guwahati.

The government move would benefit 29,701 teachers who were employed after clearing the teacher eligibility test (TET) as part of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), 11,206 state pool teachers working in lower primary and middle English schools and 5,283 teachers working on contractual basis in high schools.

“All these teachers will get benefits and perks like other government teachers and will retire on completion of 60 years of age. Due to Supreme Court order on TET teachers, we can’t use the term ‘regularise’ for them, but they will get all benefits of a regular government job,” Sarma said.

“Our party, the BJP, had given a promise of ‘regularising’ services TET teachers when we went to polls in 2016. We have been able to fulfil that promise now. It will give the teachers dignity as well as remove uncertainty about the status of their jobs,” he added.

Assamese mandatory in all schools

Sarma said Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi has approved a move making Assamese a mandatory subject from Class 1 to Class 10 in all schools, government and private including central schools, in the state.

However, the rule won’t be applicable to the three districts of Barak Valley, where Bengali is the dominant language, and the four districts of Bodoland Territory Area Districts (BTAD), where Bodo is spoken prominently.

“The act in this regard passed by the state assembly has been approved by the Governor and we have notified it. From now on all schools will have to teach Assamese as a subject, except those in Barak Valley and BTAD,” Sarma said.

Free admissions for all students of colleges, universities

In view of the Covid-19 pandemic and economic hardships faced by families, Assam government has decided to admit all students free of cost in government colleges, universities across the state including medical, engineering, agriculture, veterinary colleges etc.

Earlier, only those students with a family income of less than Rs 2 lakh annually were eligible for that benefit.

“As an attempt to provide relief to families affected by Covid-19, we have decided to give free admissions to all students this year irrespective of the income of their families from higher secondary to postgraduate level. Colleges can’t take any fees in lieu of prospectus, excursions etc,” Sarma said.

The government also decided to reimburse Rs 1,000 per month as mess dues to students staying in hostels of government colleges. Students pursuing graduation will also get Rs 1,000 for textbooks.

SoP for classes in schools twice a week

Assam government is mulling reopening of schools in a staggered manner, starting with regular classes for Class 10 and Class 12 followed by classes twice a week for other grades.

“Our government has prepared a set of standard operating procedure (SOP) on beginning with classes for Class 10 and Class 12. Others classes may resume twice a week in order to ensure social distancing and also to ensure that their learning is not affecting,” Sarma said.

“Only online class is not an option and might not be feasible for students in remote areas or villages. We have prepared our SOP, but will follow whatever guidelines central government formulates in this regard,” he added.

Sarma said the Assam government has decided to shut down 17 schools which recorded zero pass percentage in this years’ high school leaving certificate (HSLC) exams, results of which were announced on Saturday.

The teachers of these schools will be transferred to other schools all over the state and students allowed to take admissions in the nearest government school.

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