KOLKATA: A few days before the tabling of Higher Education Bill 2017 in Bengal's Assembly, the state education minister Partha Chatterjee created a storm on Monday by comparing teachers to 'cows' and said the soon-to-be-introduced biometric attendance system in schools and colleges is a mechanism to ‘keep the cows inside the barn’.
"Unruly cows would be affected by the new rule (biometric system). The good cows will not protest," he said speaking at the 45th annual seminar of West Bengal Government College Teachers’ Association (WBGCTA).
The Mamata Banerjee government is to introduce the Higher Education Bill on February 9 of which the biometric system is one of the major components. Many of the teacher associations, including West Bengal College and University Teachers' Association (WBCUTA), have decided to take to the streets against the move that is seen by many as a means for surveillance on teachers. Many teachers protested against the biometric system at the conference and the minister’s remarks came as a shock to them.
"How could he compare us teachers to cows? Don't we have any power to present our reservations on a government move? "asked a teacher present at the conference. The education minister had earlier stated that he did not agree to all the clauses of the Higher Education Bill but did not divulge any further details on his own disagreement. The education minister also expressed his views on teachers, who he says are less passionate about educating the future generations and are more inclined towards politics.
He reportedly also refused to share his personal phone numbers with the teachers. "Some teachers call me up for recommending the appointment of random persons in teachers' association. It seems they are more interested in politics than teaching," he said.
"He is right. We are powerless cows with our hands tied. We have to compulsorily pass every student till Class VIII, thus creating an entire generation of sycophantic individuals," a primary school teacher said.
Bengal had joined 20 other states in lobbying for the scrapping of the no-retention policy of Right to Education Act, 2009, saying that the quality of education is going down due to the policy.
Many of the teachers' appointments in the state were made during the Left Front regime and it is considered as one of the reasons for the Trinamool government's uneasy relationship with the educators.