EDUCATION: Parallel school bill in freezer

EDUCATION: Parallel school bill in freezer – all aware of the votebank ruse to reward the incompetent ?!!

The Telegraph Expose - excellent moral reporting & editing, always ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

Calcutta, July 30: A rare convergence of opinion among Opposition parties and a section of the ruling Left has forced the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government to abort its plan to fast-track a bill to create a parallel primary and secondary education system under the panchayat department.

The West Bengal Panchayat Board of Education Bill 2010, which fuelled fears of an undeclared caste system in the education system, has been put in the freezer for the time being.

The Telegraph had published a report on the bill on July 24 and raised concerns about the future of students passing out of the new education system under the panchayat and rural development department, which does not have the expertise to run an education board.

The government had stepped up the drive to push through the bill in this session itself to court a votebank of potential teachers before the Assembly elections next year, going as far as to propose an extension of the session by a day after a break to pass the legislation.

However, deviating from yesterday’s plan of placing and passing the bill on August 16, the government has deferred its passage till the winter session of the Assembly.

“The panchayat department minister wants an elaborate discussion on the bill to arrive at a consensus. That is not possible as the (extended) budget session of the Assembly ended today. That’s why we leave it to the next session,” said government chief whip Syed Mohammad Masih.

Sources in the government said that deferring the bill to the winter session — which normally gets wrapped up in less than a week — was almost like pressing a permanent pause button.

“A winter session is convened only if the government has important business and a good number of bills. Just for one bill, calling such a short session is not the usual practice,” a source said.

If the proposed legislation is not passed in the winter session, it’s likely to go into cold storage as the 2011 Assembly session will not witness a full budget but a vote-on-account because of the elections.

An “elaborate discussion” — as mentioned by the chief whip — was not part of the strategy the government had drawn up. As the passage of the bill would have created over 56,000 jobs in 16,108 sishu siksha kendras that hold classes from I to IV and 1,900 Madhyamik siksha kendras (MSKs) that run classes from V to VIII, the government wanted to rush it through.

With protests from the Opposition parties and a section of CPM-backed teachers’ associations intensifying, the government referred the bill to the standing committee a day after it was introduced.

Panchayat minister Anisur Rahman had claimed on July 28 that the bill would be passed today. The standing committee referred it back to the House in less than 24 hours without making any changes.

The growing opposition to the bill — even some former CPM ministers are against it — forced the government to buy time and the business advisory committee of the Assembly extended the ongoing session till August 16, with an adjournment between July 31 and August 15.

“The extension was planned only to get this bill tabled and cleared on August 16. But that’s not happening. Getting it cleared in the winter session is a remote possibility,” said a CPM legislator.

“At an informal meeting of Left ministers in the Assembly yesterday, the possible impact of the bill was reassessed. They realised that the passage will create more problems for the government and the party than serving the intended purpose of winning votes,” said a CPM insider.

This realisation forced the government to drop its earlier plan. “To ensure that the Opposition parties do not get any chance to claim credit by forcing the government to scrap the bill, it was decided to put it in cold storage,” said the source.

MEANWHILE

Protest at teacher selection – corruption in Education sector complete ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Siliguri, July 30: Trinamul Youth Congress today launched an indefinite dharna in front of the District Primary School Council office in Jalpaiguri, alleging that friends and family members of CPM leaders had made it to the final list for the recruitment of teachers through unfair means.

The CPM’s youth wing admitted privately that many eligible candidates had been denied jobs because of the unfair practices adopted by the council.

The council had conducted entrance tests and interviews to fill up 1,411 vacant posts of primary schoolteachers in Jalpaiguri district and around 1,000 names were published yesterday for the recruitment.

“Ever since the the recruitment process was set in motion, the council has been acting in a biased manner and there had been disputes on a number of issues like the cut-off marks, vacancies in different categories and likewise,” said Chandan Bhowmik, the secretary general of Jalpaiguri district Trinamul Congress.

“We had been suspecting irregularities and our apprehensions were confirmed yesterday when the council published the results of the tests and the interviews. We found that most of the selected people are family members, friends and relatives of CPM leaders,” he said.

According to Bhowmik, the primary eligibility to appear for the exam was a Madhyamik certificate. “Since yesterday evening, several candidates, who had secured even 90 per cent marks in Madhyamik, have been approaching us, saying they could not clear the tests and interviews. But those with lower marks in Class X board exams made it to the final list,” said the Trinamul leader.

A total of 1,31,500 candidates had submitted applications for the 1,411 posts and around 21,000 were called for the exams based on their marks in Madhyamik. The final screening was conducted through interviews, in which 6,634 candidates had appeared.

Council sources said names of candidates selected for the remaining posts were kept on hold as verification of their qualifications and other details was yet to be completed.

The sources also said the wife of the council chairman was among the chosen candidates.

The recruitment drive had met with protests for other reasons also. Members of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad ransacked a bank distributing forms for the tests in the Dooars to protest “higher” cut-off marks for tribal candidates. The council was also accused of being lenient towards candidates who had resorted to cheating during the entrance tests.

Mrinal Pal, the council chairman, said he was not ready to comment on the allegations over the phone. “I cannot speak on the issue right now,” he said before switching off his cellphone.

The selection has irked the DYFI. “Instead of the needy youths, it is the relatives of leaders, right from branch committee level to district committee, who have been recruited for jobs,” said a DYFI leader.

The CPM, however, vouched that the selection process was fair and transparent. “Trinamul is levelling baseless allegations. The council has complied with all rules and formalities during the process,” said a member of the CPM’s Jalpaiguri district secretariat.

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