Why are demands of contractual teachers an election issue in Bihar?
The 3.5 lakh ‘nijyojit shikshak’ of Bihar have been on strike since February this year, demanding equal pay at par with permanent teachers among other demands
On October 24, while releasing the Mahagathbandhan’s election manifesto, Hamara Pran, the Opposition’s chief ministerial candidate Tejashwi Yadav listed equal pay for Bihar’s 3.5 lakh contractual teachers if voted to power, among other promises. “They would get the same pay for the same work, for which they have been fighting for long,” he said.
Over two months ago, with an eye on polls, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also looked to woo the segment, when his government announced a slew of benefits for contractual teachers appointed by panchayati raj institutions and urban local bodies. Contractual teachers appointed since 2006 got a 15% hike in their basic salary, among other benefits.
However, the benefits failed to cut much ice with the teachers which they said did not meet their demands. In some parts, teachers’ groups also burnt copies of the order and threatened a bigger agitation.
The 3.5 lakh ‘nijyojit shikshak’ of Bihar have been on strike since February this year, demanding equal pay at par with permanent teachers, increase in retirement age to 65, and status of state government employee etc. While permanent teachers receive a salary between Rs 75,000 to 1 lakh, contractual teachers get between Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 every month. The strike affected teaching and mid-day meals at over 40,000 schools before the pandemic.
In 2017, the Patna High Court had ruled that contractual teachers in government schools were entitled to the same salary as permanent teachers. However, the state government challenged the decision and in May last year, the Supreme Court ruled in its favour, stating that the Bihar government could have two different cadres of teachers.
Now, as the election battle heats up, all sides, including the NDA and Grand Alliance, are trying to get the support of this crucial segment.
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