On Thursday, more than 3.5 lakh primary contractual teachers in Bihar went on strike, demanding increase in salary and better infrastructure.
Over 73,000 schools were shut on Friday as the protesting teachers locked doors of classrooms. This has caused primary education in Bihar to come to a sudden halt. The teachers did not let the district and block education officers enter the schools either.
The primary contractual teachers’ talks with the state Education Minister, P.K. Shahi, did not help fulfil their demands. This led them to call an indefinite strike and demand better working conditions, with salaries at par with regular teachers.
Bihar already has the lowest literacy rate in India, it is at 63 percent as compared to the country’s average rate of 74 percent. The teacher-student ratio is also below the national average, with one teacher for 63 students, as against the recommended ratio of one teacher per 40 students.
Earlier, the 3.5 lakh teachers had been appointed on a fixed salary by the Nitish Kumar government.
The teachers on strike went to the extent of forcing government primary schools to shut down. This happened in the districts of Saharsa, Supaul and Madhepura, where they asked the students and teachers to leave the classrooms and put locks on gates.
The minister has said that no conclusion has been reached in his talks with the primary contractual teachers because of issues with their representation. “The teachers should first decide as to who would participate in talks with the government. They should submit a list of 15 members for the meeting”, he says