With their backs proverbially against the wall, around 60,000 teachers in the state have hit back where it is sure to hurt the most. In support of the boycott staged by the Mumbai Junior College Teachers Union, these teachers have refused to check answer scripts of the ongoing Higher Secondary Examination until their many pending demands are met by the state government.
Flagging off the protest, members of the union boycotted proceedings on the first day of HSC paper assessment yesterday. This impasse may in turn wreak havoc with the schedule for declaration of results of over three lakh examinees in the state. Around 5,000 teachers from the city are participating in the protest.
The union members who had gathered outside the HSC board office in Vashi yesterday claimed that they had no bone to pick with the Maharashtra State Board of Higher Secondary Education (MSBSHSE), but it is only through the board that they can force the government to sit up and take note of their demands.
The teachers have raised several demands, including three-tier payscales in keeping with the fifth pay commission, with retrospective effect from January 1, 1996 and not March 1, 2000. They want the services of professors rendered in unaided junior colleges to be counted for the purpose of senior and selection grade. They also want a Diploma in Higher education (DHE) to be treated on par with a B Ed degree for the appointment of vice-principals and supervisors. They want Shikshan Sevaks to be granted 180 days of maternity leave without an extension of the Shikshan Sevak period.
10 years of protest
Amar Singh, president of the union, said, “We have been pressing for these demands for more than a decade now. However, this academic year we were keen on achieving results. All through the year we appealed to the government through the education board by submitting letters repeatedly, but we have still not received any kind of written confirmation.” The protesting union members pointed out that they had not caused any disruptions in the oral and practical exams, which had progressed smoothly.
“None of the examination papers will be touched till the government gives us a written confirmation that our demands are being met. It’s not like we are dropping this on the government suddenly; they have been aware about our demands for years now,” said Sunil Purnapatre, president of the Thane District Junior College Teachers’ Association, which has also joined the boycott.
Moderators are game
Union members have requested moderators for different subjects to support the boycott. “The board generally begins conducting meets with the moderators and chief moderator as soon as the exam for a particular subject is over. This year too, the same procedure is being followed. However, we have drafted a form, requesting moderators to boycott the assessment of exams and to press for these demands for their own welfare.
The form would be submitted to the Mumbai Division chairman,” said SL Dixit, chemistry professor at SK Somaiya College, Vidyavihar, and vice-president of the Mumbai Junior College Teachers’ union. Laxmikant Pande, the board’s division chairman for Mumbai, confirmed that the union members have been sending letters, which he has been forwarding to the state board.
“The checking of examination papers was to begin from February 25. But due to teachers boycotting the same completely, examination papers would lie sealed with the college custodian itself,” said Pande. He clarified that all necessary procedures prior to paper assessment have been completely successfully so far.
“The moderators and chief moderators have been coming to the board office in order to collect all the guidelines related to paper checking, but have said that they will not begin assessing papers till the government pays heed to their demands,” added Pande.
Quid pro quo
Union members gave the assurance that they would begin checking papers as soon as their demands are met and ensure that the work is completed before time. “In fact, we are even ready to work overtime and complete our work, once the government gives us a written conformation, acceding to our demands,” added Singh.
MSBSHSE chairman Sarjerao Jadhav said that he was aware of the situation. “We are hoping for a positive output from the government. I am sure that this problem will be solved; only, it might take a while. Teachers need to realise that checking papers is a part and parcel of their duties.”
Mistake in question will give full marks
The Board has decided to give full marks to all students who attempted question 5 from the rapid-reading section of the English paper. Among the four sets of question papers that were distributed to HSC students for their English examination on Saturday, those who got set-B were left confused after seeing question number 5.
“The name of a character in the passage was changed, which confused the students greatly. This led them to take time to comprehend the passage,” said Ishwar Awhad, an English professor from a Navi Mumbai college. Students, however, need not worry since the board officials have confirmed the mistake. “Any student who has attempted the question would be given full marks for the same,” said Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education chairman Sarjerao Jadhav.
>> Three tier pay scales as per the fifth pay commission, with effect from January 1, 1996 instead of March 3, 2000
>> Immediate sanction of all increased baseline posts till the academic year 2011-12
>> Selection grades should be given without conditions
>> Retirement age should be raised to 60 years
>> Dilpoma in Higher education (DHE) should be treated on par with B Ed for the appointments to posts such as vice-principal and supervisors
>> Maternity leave of 180 days should be granted to female shikshan sevaks without increasing the Shikshan Sevak period