TET qualified teachers addressing a press conference in Guwahati on Sunday. Image credit: UB photos

Thousands of school teachers in Assam have started a social media campaign using the word ‘driver’ as a prefix before their names on Facebook accounts and Twitter handles as a mark of protest against state education minister Siddhartha Bhattacharya.

The BJP leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi before the Lok Sabha polls had begun a campaign using the word ‘chowkidar’ as a prefix before their names.

These teachers started this protest after education minister Bhattacharya compared the pass certificate of the TET with a driving license in a live programme on All India Radio (AIR), Guwahati.

Over 40, 000 teachers, who have been recruited through the Teachers’ Eligibility Test (TET), joined the campaign against the education minister.

Replying to a question by a Barpeta TET teacher about the regularisation of the job, Bhattacharya said that the TET teachers have to renew their “licence” (the pass certificate of the TET exam) to continue their jobs, just like driving licences need to be renewed from time to time.

As a government of India initiative, TET was first introduced in 2011 and held for the first time in the state in 2012 for the appointment of teachers for lower primary and upper primary school students. The certificates issued for the qualified teachers have the validity of seven years.

A total of 52, 772 candidates cleared the first test and out of them 26,100 were appointed as teachers at different educational institutes of the state.

Reportedly, around 41,000 teachers are working on a contractual basis under the Sarba Siksha Abhiyan (SSA), Assam. The contractual teachers are now looking for permanent jobs.

Condemning the education minister’s comment, All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) general secretary Lurin Jyoti Gogoi said, “Ministers ridiculing teachers isn’t new to the state. But the latest one by the education minister is a disgrace to the position he holds.”

While defending the statement, Bhattacharya said, “My comment was just a comparison to show that like driving licences, which need to be renewed after a certain period, TET qualified teachers also need to get new certificates after seven years.”

As per the report, the TET teachers have planned to stage a protest in every district of the state in front of their respective deputy commissioners (DC)’ offices on June 18 and on June 29 under the banner of Sodou Axom TET Uttirna Sikshak Samaj.

Lachit Roy

Lachit Roy is a student of Dept. of Mass Communication and Journalism, Tezpur University

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