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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Aug 28:

Days after the Odisha’s School and Mass Education Department announced its ‘teacher-on-call’ policy to fill vacancies in secondary schools of the state, Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan today criticized it and urged the State Government against treating teachers as if they were “taxi-on-call service OLA or Uber”.

Dharmendra Pradhan Bhubaneswar

“The State Government should not implement shallow policies such as teacher-on-call. It should not be like a taxi-on-call service like OLA or Uber wherein you call them (teachers) up when you need and send them back with the fare. The government should not take education lightly. I urge the government to appoint the young men and women under ad-hoc service to be regularized for these positions,” said Pradhan.

School and Mass Education Minister Debi Prasad Mishra, on the other hand, clarified the government’s stance.

“It is unfair to compare teachers with cabs. We are considering this step because of the legal issues and unavailability of SC/ST teachers that are delaying the appointments. I believe, the union minister is not aware about the issue,” said Mishra.

Even though the retired teachers are by and large happy with this optional employment, some of the teachers’ organisations along with opposition parties are opposing this scheme.

“The schools will eventually collapse, if teacher-on-call is made out to be a regular feature. This can be a temporary solution, but cannot go on for long. The government, instead, should try and employ the unemployed,” said General Secretary of Odisha Secondary School Teachers’ Association (OSSTA) Prakash Chandra Mohanty.

It may be mentioned here that on August 23 the State Government made an announcement to engage retired secondary school teachers aged between 60 and 65 years on a contractual basis starting 2016-17 academic year. The teachers are expected to work at least 20 days a month for a fixed remuneration of Rs 10,000.

Explaining the decision, Minister Mishra had said that there are over 10,000 vacancies in teacher posts at the secondary school level and lengthy appointment process, pending court cases and unavailability of teachers belonging to SC and ST categories made matter worse forcing the government to take such a decision.