45,000 Bihar schools witness attendance drop, mid-day meal halted as 3.5 lakh contract teachers on strike

Contract teachers’ strike for ‘equal pay for equal work’ led to the discontinuation of the mid-day meal scheme in several govt schools in Bihar. Students’ attendance also witnessed a sharp drop

Representative image
Representative image

NH Web Desk

Bihar schools and students are suffering due to the ongoing strike by over 3.5 lakh regular contract teachers that began on February 17. Over 40,000 high school teachers have joined the strike from February 25.

The contract teachers’ strike and protest for 'equal pay for equal work’ led to the discontinuation of the mid-day meal scheme in around 45,000 of 75,000 government schools in Bihar. The attendance of students also witnessed a sharp drop by 70 to 80 per cent, officials said on Tuesday. As there are only around 73,000 government teachers for Class I to VIII so the mid-day schools are mostly managed by the contract teachers.

Citing the Supreme court’s order, the state government says that the demand to increase their monthly salary was rejected by the SC. The contract teachers are getting ₹18,000-30,000 per month and the monthly salary of government teachers is ₹60,000-₹90,000.

Bihar Education Minister Krishna Nandan Prasad Verma alleged that the contract teachers are trying to ‘blackmail’ the government. And admittedly the strike has had a drastic impact on the functioning of schools in the state but “we are working on a long-term solution.” he was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.

General Secretary of Bihar Secondary School Teachers Association Shatrughan Prasad Singh told The Indian Express, “Our strike has already affected the Class 10 examination and evaluation. If the government does not concede to our demand, we will not assist the government in the proposed NPR exercise in May.”

On resuming the lunch scheme, a senior official was quoted by The Indian Express as saying that there was no instruction yet, “At least 30 per cent of schools have contract teachers as in-charge headmasters, so these schools are anyway not running. Our MDM (mid-day meal) online reporting system shows that over 45,000 schools have not been running MDM since the strike,” he said.

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