In UP, 69,000 Assistant Teacher Recruitment candidates await a fair hearing

Job Crisis: Assistant teacher recruitment pending, In January, a competition was held for the recruitment of Assistant Teachers for the primary schools run by the government. Over 4 lakh candidates had appeared in the competition for 69,000 posts. The issue, however, has been dragged to court due to the discrepancies pertaining to the merit list

Daya SagarDaya Sagar   6 Sep 2019 7:11 AM GMT

In UP, 69,000 Assistant Teacher Recruitment candidates await a fair hearing

"You'd know that staging a protest resolve matters quicker. You being a journalist would be aware of such matters. We are very disturbed. I gave up my teacher's job at a private school for this competition but now I am left hanging for the results. I am meeting officials, sitting in protests and doing rounds of the courts."

Meerut's Gita Rani, 32, poses her dilemma to the reporter. Uncertainty, angst, fury and desolation, which may have resulted from her fight with the system, tint her conversation.

Uttar Pradesh's capital Lucknow's Basic Education Directorate compound was besieged by over 5,000 protesting youths on August 27. These were the candidates from the competition held in January 2019 for the recruitment of Assistant Teachers for the primary school runs by the government. Over 4 lakh candidates had appeared in the competition for the 69,000 posts, including the candidates who had passed Bed and BTC or were already engaged as 'Shiksha Mitra'(Teaching Aide) with the Education Department.

The issue, however, has been dragged to court due to the discrepancies pertaining to the merit list. The candidates blame the government for its apathy towards the completion of the recruitment process. This seems grave in the face of the actual shortage of over one lakh teachers in state's primary schools which is admitted by chief minister Yogi Adityanath himself. Candidates allege that the government is not defending its stance with enough force. The state's chief advocate had only appeared once out of six hearings of the court held so far.

These candidates solely demand that the government sends the Attorney General to defend its stance in the court and that the chief minister fulfils the promise he made. It is noteworthy that amid issuing the notification for the said competition in January 2019, CM Yogi Adityanath had assured the candidates the complete execution of the entire process by February. Even after the current protest, the state's Basic Education Minister, Satish Dwivedi, had assured the candidates the Attorney General 's presence in the next court hearing.

UP struggles with a grave shortage of teachers

As per the provision of the Right to Education (RTE), the ratio of students versus teachers should be 30:1. As per the reports of the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA) and Child Rights and You (CRY), in states such as UP and Bihar the student-teacher ratio is 50:1 and that UP, Bihar share a combined shortage of 4.2 lakh teachers.In December 2016 the then Human Resources Minister Prakash Javdekar had in answer to a question accepted that 22.99% of teaching posts in primary schools were lying vacant.

Last year, on Teachers Day (September 5, 2018) UP's CM Yogi Adityanath had himself admitted to the shortage of primary school teachers in the state. Following this, he had assured to fill the 97,000 vacant seats of primary school teachers at the earliest. Protesting candidates were hopeful they'd become teachers by the coming Teacher's Day instead they still find themselves staging protests and doing rounds of the court, with the Teacher's Day only a week away.

Where the matter got stuck?

On December 1, 2018, the UP administration had released a notification for the Assistant Teacher Recruitment Test to fill up 69,000 posts. The test was conducted on January 6, 2019. A day after, on the 7th, the passing marks were established to be around 60-65%; meaning that in order to qualify the test of total marks as 150 a general candidate must score 97 marks and other reserved category candidates 90 marks.

Few candidates, primarily teacher's aides challenged the administration's cut-off limit in the court of law. Teacher's aides requested the Lucknow Bench of the High Court to lower the passing marks. On 29th March, a single bench of the High Court reduced the passing marks to 40-45%.

Thereafter, the B. Ed and BTC candidates challenged the above decision of the single bench of High Court and appealed to the double bench. Since then the hearing on the matter is undertaken by the double bench. The candidates alleged that the government is not taking the hearing on the matter seriously and they believe this is why the state's Attorney General has only presented himself once during hearings.

The Teacher's Aides believe that the last recruitment had been held at 40-45 per cent qualifying marks so should have been in the present case. Whereas BEd and BTC candidates contest that last recruitment wasn't based on multiple-choice format but the present test was, thus calling for higher merit.

A candidate from Ghazipur, Shivendra Singh, who also leads the B.Ed and BTC candidates on the issue, said: "Because the competition shall give leverage to the Teacher's Aide due to their work experience, they already have an edge over us. Lowering the merit would be detrimental to the employment opportunity of several thousand candidates like us. So, we demand the stay on the initial cut off(60-65%) set by the state administration as this would ensure that only the ablest candidate becomes a teacher thereby improving the quality of education in the state."

Pratham, an organization working in the field of education had, in its report Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) constantly raised speculations about the quality of primary education. The report shares that more than half of class V students are unable to read aloud the lessons of Class II. Also, most of the students of primary school are unable to perform simple mathematical operations like addition and subtraction. Reports of Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA) and Child Rights and You (CRY) concur with ASER on the matter.

The last window of opportunity

This probably the last opportunity for the 38-year-old Shailendra Verma, a protesting candidate from Shrawasti, to become a primary school teacher. Holding a placard speaks Shailendra, "Last time when the recruitment took place, BEd candidates weren't given a chance. When allowed this time the recruitment itself is impeded many times. This opportunity missed securing a government post may remain a distant dream for me."

Shailendra had informed that after 2011 this was the first time when the state held primary teacher recruitment process has included B.Ed candidates. Due to this reason, for several protesting candidates like Shailendra, the situation is quite critical. Shailendra also told that the actual number of such candidates in the state who've crossed thirty or thirty-five years of age far exceeds the one actively protesting and upon whom there is crushing societal pressure to secure employment at the earliest.

Many candidates suffer from mental stress

Standing next to Shailendra, Bahraich's Vikas Shukla, 25, told, "Left in a lurch with this competition, me and my friends suffer from anxiety. Due to constant protests, meetings and court proceedings our preparation suffers and many competitions have been so spoiled. No more desirous of qualifying the exam I do, however, demand that my result be disclosed so that I may breathe easy and move ahead."

A prolonged wait

The government of India's Personnel Department had in 2016 released a circular to this effect as per which it was mandatory for any Central Government's recruitment process to be completed within six months from its notification. Like the Central Government, state governments too persistently claim to be committed to filling up of vacancies as per the laid procedure within the stipulated time frame.

Whereas there are several thousands of such youth in the country who have to wait endlessly after appearing in the recruitment tests for various government jobs. Many states, including Bihar and UP, have pending teachers' recruitments due to legal battles or red-tape. Similar is the fate of police recruitment test, railway test, bank exam etc. due to various discrepancies.

Previously such inconsistencies were limited to the state government recruitments but now the same has also happened with the Central Government's reputed agencies like SSC, UGC and UPSC's competitive exams and recruitment processes. SSC CGL 2017's over 30,000 candidates still await its final result. SSC candidate Ankit Srivastava said: "In order to secure a government job in India, one must also brace oneself to face paper-leaks, court stays and hearings besides of course the pre, mains, physical tests and interviews with little hope of a timely result."

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