CHENNAI: Government schools are likely to be shut from January 22 as teachers from 57 different associations will be participating in an indefinite strike organised by Joint Action Council of Tamil Nadu Teachers Organisations and Government Employees Organisations (JACTTO-GEO). The association estimates that around 10 lakh government employees, which includes over 5 lakh teachers, will skip work.
“The strike will continue till government meets our demands,” said a release by the association. Previously the association had given a seven-point demand list in which they urged the government to repeal the new pension scheme and revert to the old one, settle a 21-month pay arrears according to the new pay commissions guidelines, settle pay anomalies for secondary teachers and regularise the jobs of part-time staff and teachers working at Anganwadis.
In addition to these, the association has included new demands put forth by Secondary Grade teachers, who teach at government elementary schools. “This strike will see 100 per cent participation from elementary teachers as we will be most affected,” said R Das, the State coordinator of Tamil Nadu Elementary School Teachers Association. They have objected the decision to use ‘surplus’ elementary teachers for new LKG, UKG classes that start on January 21.
The School Education Department had recently announced that it would be introducing 2,300 LKG and UKG classes in Anganwadis in government school campuses, to offer an alternative to parents who put their children in English medium private schools. “We also strongly oppose closing down or merging of schools with low enrolment. This will not only lead to large-scale dropout but also leave several teachers jobless,” said Das.
This will particularly affect HMs and PE instructors,” he said estimating that around 3,500 teachers will lose their jobs and many more will be affected because of asymmetric distribution of workload. As schools will have revision tests ahead of public exams, lesser participation may be expected from higher and higher-secondary teachers.
“We estimate that over 5 lakh teachers will participate,” said PK Ilamaran from JACTTO-GEO. “Teachers from lower classes have hurried the syllabus to ensure the least effect on children,” he claimed. While it is unclear whether secretariat employees will join the protest, at least four lakh government employees (excluding teachers) will participate in the strike, said M Anbarasu from GEO.