Teachers blocking the Road in Bathinda
Unemployed teachers in the states of Utarakand and Punjab, India have been demonstrating for jobs
The protesting teachers in Utarakand who have a BEd and are Teacher Eligibility Trained have not been given a job in government schools, despite the fact that there are 7,500 unfilled vacancies in the state. The teachers sat outside the Vidhan Sabha (legislative assembly) to press their demands. The BEd Trained Teachers' Union said it would carry on pressing its demand till the teachers are employed.
Meanwhile on the road between Chandigarh and Bathinda in Punjab, teachers blocked the highway and others sat on top of a 100 foot water tank in intense heat demanding to be employed in government schools. Although qualifying as a teacher is difficult, with only one in 20 candidates passing the Teacher Eligibility Test, and although there are 40,000 teacher vacancies in the state - 9,000 teachers still have not been given jobs. Local villagers helped the protesting teachers - many of whom were young women - by giving them food and water, despite the fact that the protest meant that a large volume of traffic was diverted through their village, causing damage to the road surfaces. The teachers were planning to continue their protest today and were also arranging to meet government ministers.
These protests are happening against the background of the Right to Education act in India (2010) which purports to guarantee every child an education between the ages of six and fourteen. Even this promise - which is less strong than constitutional guarantees to education set in 1948 - is not being fulfilled. Teachers in India can be paid as little as $40 a month, class sizes are often huge and school buildings inadequate often without toilet facilities, science labs, libraries and sometimes without furniture or even classrooms. Yet World Bank funded research, the media and 'philanthropic' organisations typically blame teachers for the fact that children are not being taught rather than the failure to fund education properly and in the case of Punjab and Utarakand to employ teachers to fill thousands of vacancies.