KATHMANDU, March 5: Around six million students studying at government and community schools across the country will be affected on Tuesday as the relief quota teachers and pre-primary teachers in those schools have announced a nationwide school closure demanding revision of the draft federal education bill. The teachers launched their strike from Sunday. Private schools will not be affected by the strike.
The teachers came to the street after the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) in the draft bill proposed that only 20 percent of the relief quota and pre-primary teachers will made permanent through internal competition.
According to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST), there are 5.89 million students from grades 1 to 12 studying at community and government-run schools across the country. Another 1.5 million study at private schools. The government spends over Rs 130 billion annually on public schools.
“We will shut down all the public schools throughout the nation on Tuesday,” said Khem Raj Adhikari, the president of the agitating teachers' association. “Minister for Education, Science and Technology Giriraj Mani Pokharel should take responsibility for this situation,” said Adhikari. “The government discriminated against pre-primary and relief quota teachers. So we will continue our protests until our demands are addressed,” he added.
According to the relief quota teachers' association, there are about 40,000 teachers under the relief quota teaching at the public schools while around 26,000 female teachers are at the Early Childhood Development Centers (ECDCs) across the country.
On Monday, the agitating teachers organized a demonstration march from Maitighar to New Baneshwar. Police stopped and teargassed the teachers at Buddhanagar leaving several teachers injured. The teachers claimed that around two dozen teachers were injured. Also on Sunday, a similar number of protesting teachers were injured in police baton-charge in Buddhanagar area.
Meanwhile, posting a message on his social networking site, former education minister Dhani Ram Paudel has expressed solidarity with the demands of the agitating teachers. “The government should treat all teachers equally and resolve the problems through talks,” Paudel has stated.
"The government earlier allocated 70 percent of the vacant teachers' seats for temporary teachers and they were appointed through internal competition, but now the bill has proposed allocating just 20 percent seats. This is unacceptable,” said Khem Raj Adhikari, president of the agitating teachers' association.