SHILLONG, April 18: Meghalaya’s SSA teachers have opted for a week – long black flag protest as opposed to the indefinite strike they had announced earlier which would have seriously hampered the functioning of over 5000 SSA schools throughout the state.
Apart from this week - long black flag protest, the teachers, under the banner of the Meghalaya SSA Schools Association (MSSASA) have also threatened to intensify their agitation by staging a three-day hunger strike from April 26.
Earlier on Tuesday, the functioning of over 5000 Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) schools across the state were hit as thousands teachers did not attend schools in observance of the first day of the strike.
It may be mentioned, the indefinite strike was decided at a rally held in the city on April 12 to protest against the failures of the state government to release the revised pay of 12,481 SSA teachers and their arrears due from April 2016.
The other demands of teachers include salary enhancement of 1521 Fourth teachers, which was pending since 2013 and immediate announcement of a complete D.El.Ed (a 2-year teacher training course) results.
Announcing its decision at a news conference held here, MSSASA president Aristotle C Rymbai said, “In view of the request from concerned parents and managing committees, we have decided to withdraw our indefinite strike while taking into account the interest of the students.”
However maintaining that they would still continue with their agitation, he said that the association will begin observing the black – flag week from April 19 to 24.
“All SSA schools will be hoisting black flags,” he said while further informing that if the state government continues to be adamant, the teachers will go for a 3-day hunger strike from April 26.
On the other hand, MSSASA general secretary HM Marbaniang while claiming that teachers are getting the full support of the students’ parents and SMCs said, “They have assured us that they are willing to cooperate with the association.”
He said in view of this, the association will also organize a big rally which will be taken part by parents of the students to protest against what he termed as the condemnable attitude of the state government towards the plight of the SSA schoolteachers.
Alleging that there has been no official communication from the part of the state government so far, Marbaniang said, “This only reflects that the present state government is shying away from its responsibility.”
At present the SSA teachers are getting paid only Rs 9200 and Rs 9900 for Lower Primary and Upper Primary respectively.
Asked, Rymbai informed that the Project Approval Board (PAB) last year had approved the revised pay of the trained SSA teachers teaching at lower primary and upper primary schools at Rs 19,044 and Rs 20,493 respectively.
However, the State Mission Director in his order issued on October last year stated that the salary will be at Rs 13, 335 and Rs 14, 392 for untrained LP and UP teachers respectively, he said.
Stating that the government would require Rs 100 crore for releasing the revised pay, Rymbai however said the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) had on November last year given a direction to all the states and union territories to release the revised pay from their respective state budget till the amount is being compensated by the ministry.
“Surprisingly while states like Chandigarh have already complied with this direction, it is only in our state where the government has failed towards the teachers,” he said.