Recruitment process cancelled, Language teacher applicants demand explanations and justice
“Not asking for regularization, we followed due process”
Gangtok, 06 Mar:
After camping at the Education Department at Tashiling Secretariat for the entire day on Thursday, the Graduate and Primary teacher candidates, whose appointment process was recently cancelled by the Department, finally met a department official a day later on Friday. Representatives of the Language teachers were called in to meet the Director [Higher Education], Kapil Meena, today, but the meeting itself was of little consequence beyond getting an appointment with the department head a week later.
Speaking to media persons after the meeting, the teachers informed that a meeting with the Additional Chief Secretary, Education Department, GP Upadhyaya, has been fixed for 13 March.
Although they wanted to meet the ACS today itself and share their grievances, they were informed that he was busy in a meeting. The Director heard their grievances but refused to officially accept their grievances which the teachers wanted to submit in written form. That is something they will be able to do only when they meet Mr Upadhyaya.
“On 13 March a five-member team of representatives will place our grievances in written to the ACS in the meeting. We are hoping for a positive response,” they said.
They mentioned that their main demand to the department is to withdraw the recent notice of the Education Department withdrawing the employment and other notices regarding recruitment of Language teachers, and that the department immediately publish the result of the Graduate Teacher interviews.
“We have an 11-point list of grievances to be submitted to the Education Department. We would also like to urge the Education Minister to take the matter seriously,” they said.
The teachers said that their future course of action will depend on the outcome of the 13 March meeting.
Around a hundred Graduate and Primary Language teacher applicants had gathered at the Education Department on Thursday to convey their grievances regarding the recent withdrawal of employment and other notices by the Education Department which effectively cancelled the recruitment process they had completed more than a year ago and were now awaiting the results for.
They had arrived at the department at 9 in the morning on Thursday and till around 6 pm, had not been able to meet any Department official. This, despite the Department’s invitation that affected applicants could approach it directly with any grievances with regard to the cancellation.
These teachers, all of them working on ad-hoc basis at present, had completed the recruitment process in 2018-19 and were waiting for the results to be announced. They had undergone a long drawn-out process that begins even before the recruitment process.
“We have to undergo B.Ed and then sit for Teacher Eligibility Test and only then do we qualify to apply for teacher vacancies. After that we applied for the vacancies, paid the application fee, cut BRs, sat for written exams and then classroom demonstration and viva voce. Having gone through all these steps, now they are cancelling it all,” said one of the teachers.
The Education Department had completed the recruitment process in Feb 2019 for the post of 173 Graduate Language Teachers, while for the 350 posts of Primary Language Teachers only the written exams had been held.
At a time when the candidates were still being given the run around for the results, the department issued a notice on 25 March stating that the employment notice, advertisements and other notices had been withdrawn in light of a petition filed in the High Court of Sikkim which alleged that NCTE norms had been flouted in the recruitment process.
Angry teachers on Thursday said that most of them came to know of the withdrawal notice from a Summit Times news-report and that only a few have received the actual notices.
The notice says that the teachers can approach the department regarding any grievance within 30 days from the issue of this notice in case of any grievances.
Here, it is interesting to note that individual notices have been sent to the applicants instead of a public notice.
“Many of us will soon be leaving for CBSE Evaluation training in Guwahati and there are many who work in other districts and can’t get leave to come here, so we thought we will talk to Department officials today but we have not been able to meet anyone,” said the teachers who were kept waiting the entire day without any word from the authorities.
They added that the Additional Chief Secretary, Education Department, was informed about the teachers approaching the Department on Thursday. He was clearly occupied with other tasks and does not appear to have delegated anyone to collect the grievances of the teachers.
AN OPPORTUNITY THAT DOES NOT COME OFTEN
According to the teachers, this was the first time that Graduate Nepali teacher recruitment was held while recruitment for regional language [Bhutia, Lepcha, Limboo,etc] teachers is being held after a gap of 12 years.
Most of the teachers have been working on ad-hoc basis for 08-10 years with one teacher who has been working on ad-hoc basis for 13 years now.
“We are not asking for regularization or any special favours. We sat for exams and viva following due process. Our documents were scrutinized before the recruitment began. Our recruitment process fulfilled all the required norms including NCTE norms. Why are they doing this to us?” asked the teachers.
DISCREPANCIES IN DEPARTMENTAL ACTION
The teachers also pointed out that the employment notice and advertisement notice that the department has withdrawn also included Post Graduate Language teachers whose recruitment process was completed and who are now working in various schools across the State.
This puts a question mark on these PG Language teachers who are about to complete their probation period.
The teachers have questioned the department’s decision to cancel the recruitment process even before the next hearing of the case which is scheduled for 17 March.
A pertinent question to ask since the court has neither passed a final order on the matter nor has it issued an interim stay on the recruitment process.
Further, even though the petition challenging the Language Teacher recruitment was filed in the High Court of Sikkim nearly a year ago on 23 May 2019, the State Government is yet to file its counter affidavit, it is learnt.
“We approached the department many times in the past. Every time they gave some excuse or the other. They also assured to announce the results after the 2019 elections, and now they have taken this sudden decision,” they said.
They remain unconvinced of the explanation being offered by the Department, a suspicion which has only deepened with the Department’s stand-offishness in how it has addressed their