Darjeeling Hills is often regarded as education hub of North Eastern India on account of colonial era convent schools and similar styled ICSE schools.
Therefore, it is not surprising that people across India and South East Asia flock here to get the best of primary and secondary/higher secondary education. These schools have long history and old legacy with the oldest school among them coming up as early as in 1844 in the form of Loreto Convent School, Darjeeling.
However, the modern schools for the commoners came only half a century later in the form of Darjeeling Govt High School. The seeds for educational revolution for commoners was started by one of the teachers of Darjeeling Govt. High School – Dr Parasmani Pradhan.
In this write-up, we focus on Education , and the Govt and govt sponsored Educational Institutions in Darjeeling Hills under GTA within the framework of GTA Act 2012 signed among GJM, Bengal Govt and Union Govt, along with the MoU signed on 18th July 2011 while GTA Act coming into play on 14th March 2012.
As per the GTA Act, many departments were being transferred with certain level of autonomy where Govt of West Bengal couldn’t unilaterally take decisions. Education was one of the transferred Dept. We will use sections and subsections of GTA Act in autonomy granted to GTA Sabha and jurisdiction.
Education as Transferred Subject
Under the section 26 of Chapter II of GTA Act, with subtitle “Matter to be under the control and administration of GTA”, the autonomy is expressed as, Subject to the provisions of this act and any other laws for the time being in force and any general or special direction of Govt , GTA shall have administrative, financial and executive powers in the region in the relation to following dept.
Therefore, education is a transferred matter. The subsections 26(V), 26(VI) and 26(VII) are related to educational institutions transferred to the GTA jurisdictions. They are as follows.
- 26(V): School Education including primary education, secondary education, higher secondary education (including vocational training): Physical Education; Government Schools.
- 26(VI): College Education including Agricultural and Technical Colleges, Local Management of Government sponsored Colleges; Mass Education and Physical Education; Engineering, Medical, Management, and Information Technology with Government and Government sponsored colleges for which wings /cells shall have to be created by the GTA for the area under its jurisdiction;
- 26(VII): Adult Education and Library Services;
Mode Of Appointments Of Staffs, Officers and Teachers
Subsections 54(1), 54(2) and 54(3)of chapter IV of GTA Act are related to the mode of appointment under subtitle “Officers and Staffs of the GTA.”
Therefore, I advice Mr Principal Secretary of GTA , IAS to kindly read the the aforesaid subsections of GTA Act while recruiting academician in educational institutions in GTA and value the Act signed among three parties viz. Central govt, West Bengal govt and GJM.(undivided)
Subsections 54(1) and subsection 54(2) says any recruitment to the tune of Group D, Group C and Group B must be made through “Subordinate Service Selection Board” to be set up for this very purpose in consultations with Govt of WB.
Therefore, this definitely means that Recruitment notice must be given in a local NEPALI DAILY clearly mentioning
- No of posts,
- Category (unreserved, OBC, SC, ST, PH).
Even short term vacancies like maternity leave vacancy, Deputation for B. Ed are to be advertised, whereas permanent post is definitely to be advertised. The Posts like guard, peon, clerks, job assistant, lab technicians, technical assistants, primary Teacher, trained graduate teacher, etc fall in this category.
Subsections 54(3) says recruitment to Group A can be done in consultations with State PSC.
Group A comprises Post Graduate Trained Teacher, Headmasters, Lecturers in polytechnic colleges and other technical College, general degree colleges , doctors, veterinary doctors, etc.
It is commonplace knowledge that the recruitment to these posts are made through proper advertisement in WBOSC websites clearly visible to naked eyes and don’t need Trinetra (3rdEye)
MoU and Regularisation of Adhoc teachers and contractual workers
As per MoU signed among three parties in 18th July 2011, the ad-hoc teachers and other contractual workers were to be absorbed who have completed ten years’ of continued service. Accordingly they were absorbed. Clearly neither MoU nor GTA Act 2012 mentions “Volunteer Teachers”.
Those contractual workers who have completed 10 years service with appointment prior to signing on MoU are yet to get absorbed deserve permanency as per GTA MoU.
Deficiency of GTA and Devaluing Interference Of GTA by West Bengal Govt
- Transfer of Govt Schools: As education is transferred matter, the Govt schools like Darjeeling Govt High School, Saedeswari High School, Kalimpong Boys High School, Dow Hill Girls’ School, Victoria Boys, etc were not transferred in true spirit by Govt of WB. Moreover, GTA was never consulted in recruitment of teaching ,non teaching and Principals in these schools.
[In recruitment process of Principal of Victoria Boys School recently, many senior teachers from GTA region with enough qualification applied for Principal post but only one person among the short listed candidates for interview of principal was from GTA Region. Are we at GTA that incompetent?. Surely, GTA would have influenced to incorporate more candidates to be called for interview in School transferred to its own jurisdiction].
- Transfer of Polytechnic colleges and Other Technical Institutions:
The mode of recruitment of Lecturers in polytechnic colleges is directly through PSC examination and they don’t consult GTA Sabha in recruitment process whereas Polytechnic and technical institution is transferred subject. The worst sufferers are just school passed children from vernacular schools who find it difficult to cope up with the non Nepali speaker Teachers and some don’t speak English too.
- General Degree College: The general Degree colleges are the most visible places where GoWB doesn’t at all consultant GTA Sabha. Whereas General Degree College effect vast majority of Nepali Medium School Students passing out and coming to study at general Degree colleges, the non Nepali speaker Teachers will further make college course quite difficult. As such case if transfers in mid session becomes regular which affects students. Had WB govt consulted GTA Sabha or GTA Sabha acted with concerns for students such difficulty wouldn’t have arised.
GTA body must ensure that the local candidates having minimum educational qualifications fit enough be given priority with regard to the appointment as teachers in Govt abd govt sponsored educational institutions like Schools, Polytechnic colleges and other technical colleges and general degree colleges.
In addition, the GTA body must ensure that any recruitment to the institution in GTA must be specifically mentioned whether it’s PSC, SSC or CSC boards of recruitment. For example, a post in Geography in Darjeeling Govt College must be mentioned as Asst Prof in Darjeeling Govt College to value GTA agreement.
Why No Volunteer Teachers? Yes to GTA Teacher Recruitment Board!
- Not in spirit with Constitution: The Preamble to the Indian Constitution itself says “Equality of Status and of opportunity.” This means that every eligible candidate in GTA Area have right to apply for specified posts and that should be given equal job opportunity. Volunteer teachers being regularised would violate this provision.
- Meaning of Volunteer Teachers: Volunteer teachers means those teachers who have voluntarily decided to render his services to any random school without a prior condition of regularisation.
- Volunteer Teachers dont fit Subject Specification nor 100 point Ruster: Volunteer teachers by name itself means using as stop gap fillers. Therefore, neither School Managing committee nor DI Office look into their academic specifications and maintain 100 point ruster necessitated in govt institutions. Therefore, categories like Unreserved, OBC, SC,ST etc are not valued.
- Opening Pandoras Box In Rest of Bengal: There are thousands of para teachers in the rest of Bengal who are put in a salary slab with one time appointment sometime in 2006-07 with provision of continued service of 60 years, salary slab and scope of salary every 3 years as well as post termination of that teacher on service switch. However, such para teachers don’t affect the normal or additional vacancies in schools. Regularisation of volunteer teachers would require para teachers to be regularised too.
- Hill SSC blocked by erstwhile DGHC revoked: When Hill SSC was first implemented in DGHC in 1999 , the erstwhile Chairman Subhash Ghising blocked by citing linguistic minority provision in Rules and Regulations of SSC . However, the teachers who passed 1999 Hill SSC challenged the decision in Calcutta High Court and were able overturn the decision of Subash Ghising in 2007-2008. Therefore, this may have way for Hill SSC.
- Ethics and Moralities: Teachers ,unlike characters portrayed in Bollywood movies as geeks, are often role models for young kids whom they look upon to shape themselves. As such teacher must have self-esteem, pride, and good character to be a perfect role model. This makes indispensable to have teachers coming through proper examination followed by interview.
- Let us End Dalal Culture: The volunteer teachers inevitable have to request political leaders and parties for regularisation. As this is being as dalal in such a Noble profession would further detail the Morales of the students who follow them. So, let’s us end dalal culture.
- Please Stop the Rant of हाम्रै मुन्छेले त काम पायो के को खसखस? It’s often heard cry from commoners whose sons and daughters are working as volunteer teachers. However, closer examinations reveal that even under GTA Teacher recruitment board it requires one to be resident of GTA to be eligible for applying teaching job in GTA region. So, even with advertisement coming up in spirit of equal opportunity, it’s our own people getting job with provision of Nepali as one of the subjects in 10th standard as is case for recruitment in Bengali School in the schools of West Bengal.
Conclusions and Suggestions:
The following can be done in accordance with GTA Act 2012, MoU and present volunteer teachers.
- Volunteers teachers be placed on the status of para Teachers with pay band , with provision of continued service until 60 years and subsequent terminal benefits and post termination on switching jobs.
- The New GTA Teacher Recruitment Board be constituted with experts and people of untarnished image. Here, rules and regulations be framed. All eligible candidates can apply and so do volunteer teachers from GTA region.
- Recruitment of Technical and General Degree College be locally prioritised: As per GTA act and MoU, there’s provision for GTA to actively participate in recruitment process. Therefore, the GTA Sabha must prioritise local recruitment in Higher education colleges, both general degree and technical colleges.
- Frame Own Syllabus In GTA: GTA Sabha must be able to frame it’s own primary and High School curriculum because Darjeeling Hills is education hub of Northeastern India. As such commoners deserve best of education. Whereas present WBBSE, WBCHSE curriculum are designed based on whole of Bengal whose majority of population live in villages whereas Darjeeling has literary rate almost 100%. As such our kids deserves better education.
[Although Author is a diehard supporter of Gorkhaland , he is of opinion that any institution within proposed Gorkhaland statehood region must function democratically within framework of Acts passed by respective govt.]
Writes: Nahakul Chettri