Primary teachers threaten to boycott PEC examination

Ershad Kamol  | Published: 13:45, Oct 23,2019 | Updated: 00:18, Oct 24,2019


Cops drag away a protester during an agitation staged by Bangladesh Primary Assistant Teachers’ Alliance at the Central Shaheed Minar in Dhaka on Wednesday. — Sony Ramany

Government primary schoolteachers from a rally in the capital on Wednesday threatened to boycott the upcoming primary education completion examination scheduled on November 17 unless their demand for upgrading salary scale is fulfilled by November 13. 

In the presence of several thousand of teachers at Doyel Chattar of Dhaka University, Bangladesh Prathamik Shikkhak Oikya Parishad convenor Md Anisur Rahman placed the one-point demand to the government.

‘Give salary scale at  grade 11 to the assistant teachers and  grade 10 to the head teachers in sync with the National Pay Scale by November 13, otherwise we will boycott the PEC examination and annual examinations,’ Anisur declared from the rally.

‘Otherwise, 3.75 lakh primary school teachers will not do any duty of the PEC examination, will not check answer scripts, and we will not even hold annual examinations of other classes at the schools,’ he added.

‘Even then,’ he said, ‘If our demands are not fulfilled we will lock all classrooms of all the government primary schools.’

His declaration resonated with the rest of the teachers who came to attend the programme from different corners in the country and was reflected in cheers and slogans. 

Bangladesh Prathamik Shikkhak Oikya Parishad, a platform of 14 associations of the primary schoolteachers, was forced to hold the rally at the Doyel Chattar as the police slapped an embargo on holding the rally at the scheduled venue at the Central Shaheed Minar.

The association announced to organise the rally on Wednesday when all schools remained closed observing Akheri Chahar Shomba for giving the ultimatum to the government for upgrading salary scale of the assistant teachers from 14 to 11 grade while for head teachers from  grade 11 to  grade 10.

At present an assistant teacher draws Tk 16,000 as gross salary when their demand is Tk 20,000 in accordance with grade 11 while a head teacher of the primary school draws a gross salary of Tk 20,000 whereas their demand is Tk 24,000 after an upgrading to grade 10.

The teachers demanded an announcement of their salary scale upgrading from the prime minister soon in keeping with her pledge as had been mentioned in the last election manifesto.  

‘We have been demanding for the upgrading of the salary scale since the prime minister announced Class 2 status for the head teachers of the primary schools in 2014,’ Bangladesh Prathamik Shikkhak Samity general secretary M Abul Kashem told New Age.

‘The government did not even keep its promise as made by the then state minister for primary and mass education ministry and its secretary while requesting us to stop the hunger-unto-death programme in 2017,’ he added.

He said that the master’s degree holder primary school teachers get lower grade salary to the nurses and sub-assistant agriculture officers in government jobs.

The teachers do not even have scope for promotion, he added. 

Following the rally, primary school teachers took position at different points in the capital such as Doyel Chattar, Ramna Park, Central Shaheed Minar and Chankhar Pool, ignoring the police obstruction.

The agitating teachers claimed that some 20 of them were injured and one was arrested and later released when police tried to disperse them from different spots.

‘Police created obstacles to the teachers at different entrance points in the capital, though we had announced to hold a peaceful rally today,’ Bangladesh Prathamik Shikkhak Oikya Parishad member secretary Mohammad Shamsuddin told New Age.

Sajjadur Rahman, Ramna zone deputy commissioner, said that the schoolteachers had no permission to host any programme on the spot either from the Dhaka University or Dhaka Metropolitan Police authorities.

‘They won’t be allowed to hold any programme there,’ he added. 

Fearing ‘disorder’ over the teachers’ prescheduled rally in Dhaka, the directorate of primary education on Tuesday  ordered the authorities concerned to make sure the government primary schoolteachers did not leave their respective work stations on Wednesday despite it was a holiday for all schools on the occasion of Akheri Chahar Shomba.

Issuing another circular on Wednesday the directorate warned the primary schoolteachers of taking disciplinary action unless they stop agitation and resume routine works.

Primary and mass education secretary Md Md Akram-Al-Hossain said that actions would be taken as per the government service rules.

Prathamik Shikkhak Oikya Parishad convenor Md Anisur Rahman said the government has every right to take action, ‘but, we will make decisions collectively,’ he said.

State minister for primary and mass education ministry Md Zakir Hossain said that he would discuss the matter with the prime minister and finance minister soon. 

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