The student wing of the Congress, National Student Union of India (NSUI), Monday held a demonstration against purported teacher shortage in state government-run schools in Tripura. NSUI members also tried to gherao the official residence of Chief Minister Dr Manik Saha in Agartala. The protesters were detained by the police and taken to the local police grounds. They were released later in the evening.
Speaking to reporters, NSUI state president Samrat Roy said: “The education system is in a shambles in Tripura. When students protest, goons and bike bahini (motorcycle-borne goons) terrorise them and assault student leaders. There are not enough teachers in schools. Students are protesting across the state… This situation can’t go on for long.”
The protesters raised the “Shame Shame Manik Saha” slogan, and claimed that students would soon give a befitting reply to the government.
Notably, NSUI’s protest came a few weeks after videos of schoolchildren whiling away time or quarrelling in classrooms in the absence of teachers went viral on social media.
Later on Monday evening, Students’ Federation of India (SFI) Tripura secretary Sandipan Chakraborty also said the teacher shortage in the state was taking a severe turn. He added that 3,621 Teacher Eligibility Test (TET)-qualified candidates were waiting to be recruited.
“We will block roads for 15 minutes across all eight districts in the state between 11 am-12 noon on August 13, in protest against the state of education in Tripura. This is just a symbolic protest. It’s only the beginning and if teachers are not recruited soon, we shall organise widespread movement across the state,” Sandipan said.
Talking about the severe staff crunch, a teacher at Rajkumar Roaja Para Senior Basic School in Jolaibari under South Tripura district said the institute has just four teachers for 106 students. He further said teachers at the school were taking simultaneous classes for students of two separate grades. He added that the condition was prevailing since 2020, when two teachers at the Jolaibari school were retrenched following a Supreme Court order dismissing 10,323 school teachers in the state from service on account of faulty recruitment process.
On July 2, Tripura Education Minister Ratan Lal Nath said his department would recruit TET-qualified teachers in a phased manner before the Durga Puja. The education minister’s remarks were preceded by a protest by unemployed TET-qualified candidates who gheraoed his official residence seeking their induction in a single phase.
The education minister also said the BJP-led state government has rolled out 13,984 jobs across departments since coming to power in 2018. He added that 3,366 candidates were given teaching jobs at elementary and secondary government schools during this period.
Meanwhile, an internal survey of the education department has revealed that nearly 8,850 students dropped out of schools in the state during the pandemic. Keeping this in view, the state government has recently announced a scheme called ‘Earn with Learn’ to engage college students in a survey to identify school dropouts. The volunteers would be paid Rs 500 for every confirmed readmission.