New academic sessions have begun in primary, secondary and higher secondary educational institutions amid constant street movements of different groups of teachers, affecting the academic activities in the very beginning of a new year.
Unrest is prevailing at the educational institutions due to the movements of around nine lakh teachers and employees of schools and college for various demands.The Non-MPO teachers are agitating demanding MPO, the MPO-listed teachers are demanding nationalization, Ibtadei Madrasah teachers took to the streets for nationalisation like primary teachers, primary assistant teachers are demanding to remove what they call discrimination in wage.
Besides, teachers of secondary government schools have been staging demonstrations to press home their demand for time scale and promotion while the college teachers are demonstrating over the cadre and non-cadre issue.
Several officials of education ministry said the teachers are trying to fulfil demands putting pressure on the government ahead of the next general election.
They also said the teachers received several new benefits during the tenure of the current government. Around 26,000 private primary schools have been nationalised while all teachers’ pays were doubled like government jobs.
However, educationists said the teachers are making new demands as they are not getting the benefits they deserve.
A newly formed alliance of pro-government teachers and employees on Thursday announced a series of programmes demanding ‘nationalisation of the education system’.The platform of 16 teachers’ organisations named ‘Shadhinota Shikkhak Karmachari Federation’, said they will hold different programmes to press home their demand.
Shahjahan Alam Saju, chief coordinator of the alliance, said apart from nationalisation of the education system, they want Baishakh and festival allowances.
“In Bangladesh, 98 percent secondary and higher secondary educational institutions are privately managed and there are numerous problems like the influence of school managing committees, the standard of education, lack of quality teachers and poor salaries”.
“If we want an end of it, there is no alternative to nationalising the system,” said Shahjahan.
As per their movement, the alliance will launch a four-day campaign at schools, colleges, madrasas and technical institutions on Sunday. They will also form human chains in the upazila level on January 21.
On January 25, they will form human chains in all districts and submit a memorandum to the prime minister through the deputy commissioners. The federation will hold a national meeting of the representatives on March 3, where the leaders will announce their next course of action.
Meanwhile, teachers of MPO-listed institutions, who started a sit-in on Wednesday in front of Jatiya Press Club, announced that they would continue their agitation until their one-point demand of nationalising private education is met.
The teachers are staging the agitation under the banner of Besharkari Shikkha Jatiyakaran Liaso Forum, a platform of five teachers’ organisations.
At a rally on Thursday, the teachers said although the teachers are dubbed as the architect of building a nation, they are the most deprived section of the society.
“We will continue the sit-in till Saturday. If no announcement on our demand is made before that, we would go on a hunger strike,” said Nazrul Islam Rony, a leader of the forum.
The teachers of independent ebtedai madrasas continued their indefinite hunger strike for the fourth consecutive day on Friday in front of Jatiya Press Club.
Qazi Ruhul Amin Chowdhury, president of the organisation leading the demonstration said, “We will not return home until our demand is met.”
Around 48,000 teachers of around 10,000 madrasas teach students from class-I to class-V. Registered with the Madrasa Education Board in 1984, some 6,776 teachers of 1,519 madrasas started getting Tk 500 as allowances for each teacher.
Later in 2013, the government elevated the amount of those teachers to Tk 1,000. In 2016-17 fiscal, the government increased the allowances of head teachers to Tk 2,500 and assistant head teachers to Tk 2,300 from Tk 1,000. But the rest of the teachers have not been paid any allowance whatsoever from the government since 1984, said the teachers.
Meanwhile, non-MPO teachers are agitating under the banner of Non-MPO Educational Institutions Teachers and Employees Federation.
Golam Mahmudunnabi, president of the platform, said the number of non-MPO education institutions is 5,242, where around 80,000 teachers are working without any pay, some for more than a decade.
After several days of hunger strike, on January 5, non-enlisted teachers and employees called off the hunger strike after receiving the Prime Minister’s assurance about meeting their demand.
Meanwhile, on December 25, the assistant teachers of the state-run primary schools, who went on indefinite hunger strike demanding a pay-scale upgrade, ended their strike upon the assurance of the Primary and Mass Education Minister to meet their demand.
Teachers of government secondary schools have been demonstrating demanding timescale and promotions. They are observing a series of programmes under the banner of ‘Bangladesh Government secondary Teacher Association”. There are about 8,000 teachers in 336 government secondary schools across the country.
The government nationalised 283 colleges. But the BCS (general education) teachers have been opposing the notion of giving the government college teachers the status of cadre, except those who were appointed through the BCS.
Principal Kazi Faruque Ahmed, a leader of a teachers’ platform, said the political parties make promises before the election but do not implement their promises completely. So the teachers’ organisations think the government will be in a flexible position before the election, he added.
Educationist Prof Serajul Islam Choudhury said “Teachers’ pay is lower than other professions. Many teachers don’t even get any salary at all. Teachers are agitating but the government has not given importance to this issue. It’s dreadful.”
“The education system should be given the highest importance. But we see the budget allocation in this sector is not increasing, which has created the crisis,” he said.