Odia language teachers of primary schools in border villages in West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh have not received their salaries for the past 30 months.
Teachers of 562 schools functioning in the border villages and cut-off areas alleged that they had not received their salaries since September 2010. These teachers were appointed through Utkal Sammilani. Despite of their repeated appeals to the authorities concerned, no step has been taken yet.
Utkal Sammilani, a socio-cultural organisation, which had played a major role in the formation of the separate state of Odisha based on language in April 1936, used to manage these schools with the financial assistance from the State Government.
President of the organisation’s West Singbhum (Jharkhand) district unit Saroj Pradhan said at least 157 Odia teachers working in three districts of Jharkhand have been affected. “They get only `1500 per month and that too for 10 months a year. But sadly the amount has not been provided by the Government since last two and a half years,” he said.
With no assistance from the government and lack of infrastructure these schools located in East Singbhum, West Singbhum, Sareikala-Kharasuan in Jharkhand, East Midnapore, West Midnapore in West Bengal, Raipur, Jashpur, Bilaspur, and Bastar in Chhattisgarh and several border villagers in Andhra Pradesh await Government’s attention.
While the schools lack facilities like toilets, drinking water supply and buildings, mid-day meal is a misnomer for the students.
Noted linguistic activist Prabodh Mishra said the schools initially opened as Lipi Siksha Kendras having classes up to Class-III needed to be upgraded till Class-VII. He demanded that the Government should bring these schools under Sarva Siksha Abhijan (SSA) for infrastructure development and quality education.
“We have written letters to the Chief Secretary and Secretary of School and Mass Education requesting them to release funds towards the salaries of the Odia teachers,” he said.
The teachers have warned to resort to indefinite hunger strike if the government fails to fulfill their demands within a week. An official of the Mass Education Department said they were aware about the matter and the government would take a decision in this regard soon.