Government teachers in Rajasthan have resented a government ‘diktat’ to mark their compulsory attendance for a government-sponsored Teachers Day event in Jaipur. The BJP-led Vasundhara Raje government organised a grand Teachers Day on Wednesday at Amroodon Ka Baagh in the state capital.
The Education Department made it compulsory for all teachers, who got their jobs after December 13, 2013 — the day Raje took over as Chief Minister — to attend the programme. Around 50,000 teachers attended the event. Speaking to IANS, a Jodhpur-based teacher, who declined to disclose his name, said, “We had to travel all the way from Jodhpur, about 330 km from the state capital.”
“In Digital India, is there any need to call thousands of teachers to the state capital when video conferencing facility is available in all cities and towns? Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been interacting with people via Mann Ki Baat. The Chief Minister could also have arranged video conferencing and saved money,” he said.
A teacher who came from Hanumangarh, a 7-hour train jouney, told IANS that teachers were being made victims in the politically-charged environment in the state. “We have been asked to stay in government schools. We are aware what kind of arrangements are available in these schools,” he said.
“We were promised travel allowance, but we have been spending from our pockets,” he complained. Yet another teacher from Jodhpur said that it would have been better had this programme seen voluntary participation from teachers. “This is a diktat for us. We had to leave all our work…we worked for this event for a week and were mainly focused on preparations for this event,” he said.
Long queues of vehicles were seen in the city throughout the day. “There was no need to create such a mess on roads,” he said. When asked why they can not disclose their names, the teachers had a common opinion. “We are already under pressure to attend this event. If we disclose our identity, we might lose our jobs.”
The Rajasthan Education Department made it compulsory for all government teachers appointed after December 13, 2013, to attend the state-level Teachers’ Day celebration in Jaipur. Raje took oath on December 13, 2013, and the day marks the start of the term of the government.
The Opposition Congress has criticised the move, questioning the government as to how the Raje government could differentiate between teachers.
Former Chief Minister and Congress leader Ashok Gehlot said: “The government’s behaviour towards teachers is condemnable. Teachers are not slaves of the government. This is not a respectable invite for them.” He said taxpayers’ money too was being wasted on “meaningless programmes.”
Surendra Saharan, patron, Rajasthan Senior Teacher’s Association said, “Verbal instructions were given to all teachers to avoid wearing black- colour outfits. We submitted a memorandum to the Education Department, but to no avail,” he said. “The government decision to invite new appointees while ignoring their seniors is sheer politicisation of education,” Saharan added.