Teachers Day was celebrated in Meghalaya amid protest by a section of school teachers demanding the release of their five months’ pending salary and eight months arrears.
The sit-in protest was organized by teachers of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA)-sponsored schools near Additional Secretariat while the state government organized a State level function on the occasion of Teachers’ Day at U Soso Tham auditorium, a stone’s throw away from the venue of the agitation.
At the function, Meghalaya Education Minister Lahkmen Rymbui in his address to teachers and students, greeted all teachers in the state while also expressing his worry at the sorry state of affairs in the system of education in the State.
Rymbui admitted various problems being faced by teachers in the State be it the delay in getting their salary, working with the same workload but gets different pay, existence of too many categories of schools besides other issues that put the state government in a difficult situation to streamline the education system.
“The State Government recognized the problems and resolved to also address them,” Rymbui said.
Stating that the state still has a number of untrained teachers, Rymbui stressed on the need to give the children the best education and impart the teachers necessary training besides exchange programmes that would help them improve teaching skills especially when the deadline would be train all untrained teachers by March 31, 2019.
Referring to the agitating teachers of SSA-sponsored schools, the Education Minister said that the State Government has nothing to hold the salary of the teachers, once the Centre released the money.
On SSA schools in the State, he said, the State is facing problem financially and would need around Rs 150 crore to meet all requirements including salary.
Lamenting the sorry state of affairs in education especially poor performance of Government-run schools in the State which compelled parents to seek admission in private-run institutes, Rymbui said that at education at present in the state is only an employment agency and 95 per cent of the education department’s budget was spent on salary.
He also expressed concern over the existence of too many schools and poor enrolment where he sent a warning that any school with single-digit enrolment would be shut down.
He said that time has come for monitoring the performance of teachers especially with the help of technology, and take action against non-performers.
“Teachers of government schools got the facilities more than what the teachers of other categories of schools in the state are getting. It cannot be accepted that teachers would be able to do justice to students when they travel everyday from Shillong to teach in schools located in other district headquarters. Where will they have the energy when they move to and fro every day? They have to station in the district where they are posted,” Rymbui said while urging teachers to ponder over the poor results of government schools and that they should resolve to give their best for the interest of education and students in the State.
He also asked all government schools to ensure that they fare better in next year’s examinations.
On the occasion, the minister gave away awards to 11 teachers who are recipients of state award, 33 awardees of district award and special award for two teachers of inclusive schools.