GUWAHATI: The Assam government on Tuesday said it will abolish 8,000 vacant posts of permanent school teachers as a larger number of contractual faculty members are already working through the Sarba Siksha Abhiyan (SSA).
Opposition parties and student organisations slammed the government claiming that the step is against the interests of vernacular medium schools.
Education Minister Ranoj Pegu said that the state government in 2020 had offered a regular pay scale and other benefits such as service tenure up to 60 years of age to 11,206 contractual teachers working under the SSA in Lower Primary and Upper Primary schools.
"In order to maintain rationality against this near-regularisation, the Govt. decided to keep 8000 sanctioned posts of regular teachers vacant to avoid duplicity and financial neutrality," he said in a Facebook post.
The education minister said that as these vacant posts have been kept frozen and shall be vacant for a long period till the retirement of the contractual teachers, the government has considered it "prudent to abolish them for financial discipline".
He, however, said that the state government may create posts as and when required owing to an increase in enrolment in the future.
Reacting to the announcement, Assam Jatiya Parishad president Lurinjyoti Gogoi alleged that the step to abolish the posts is "short-sighted" and against the public education system.
"Such conspiracies of the government against vernacular medium schools are very old and the latest is the abolishing of thousands of teachers' posts. Such a decision related to the education sector, which is a Constitutional subject, is not at all acceptable," he said.
All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) organisational general secretary Aminul Islam said that instead of giving jobs to the unemployed youths, the government abolished thousands of opportunities.
"This step is really unfortunate at a time when only one teacher is imparting education in 4,000 schools in the state. To maintain the teacher-student ratio as per the NEP, more hiring is required," he added.
The All Assam Students' Union (AASU) general secretary Sankarjyoti Baruah claimed that the BJP-led government in Assam is planning to "finish" the vernacular medium institutions in the state.
"This will destroy all government schools in Assamese, Bodo and other local languages. There are around 500 Assamese medium schools where there is no teacher at all. We demand that the government withdraw the decision immediately," Baruah added.
After reactions from the opposition started pouring in, Pegu called "an urgent press conference" on the subject on Wednesday.
On Monday, School Education Secretary Bijoya Choudhury wrote to the Accountant General of Assam informing the official of the decision to abolish the vacant posts of the regular teachers.
She said in her letter that out of the total posts, 4,285 are in Lower Primary schools and the remaining 3,715 are in Upper Primary schools.