The Bihar Cabinet on Tuesday gave its nod to service rules for over 4 lakh panchayat teachers for Classes 1 to 12. They will now get the benefit of Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) scheme and inter-district transfers like government teachers.
The Cabinet cleared the proposal for panchayat teachers after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar made an announcement to this effect during his Independence Day speech. As per the Cabinet decision, a member of the teacher’s family will be entitled to a job on compassionate ground in case of his/ her death. The teachers will no longer be called ‘Niyojit’ (contract) teachers, and will get the same leave benefits as government teachers.
This is being seen as a deft political move ahead of Assembly elections, even as the teachers’ long-pending demand of pay parity has not been conceded. Bihar Secondary School Teachers Association spokesperson Abhishek Kumar said: “Service rules for teachers is nothing but a placebo. Unless there is pay parity, it does not mean anything. We already have some benefits like maternity leave. We are the bulk force of the education system. There has to be relook at our salary structure”.
The Bihar government started employing panchayat teachers on fixed salary from 2007. There was a huge discrepancy in teachers’ appointment as it was initially based on marks from Class 10 to graduation. The government later conducted teachers’ eligibility test (TET) and made a Bachelor of Education degree mandatory for all teachers. Untrained teachers were asked to get BEd or equivalent degrees to keep their jobs.
The teachers had fought a long legal battle for pay parity but lost the case in the Supreme Court. They were on strike for two and a half months until May to press for pay parity.