Work abstention: Who will teach if teachers boycott class?

Prothom Alo illustration

Although the issue of inter-cadre discrimination in the cadre services of Bangladesh Public Service Commission (BPSC) often comes to discussion, there is no initiative to decrease it.  Education cadre and other cadre officials allege that officials of administration cadre get promotion quickly despite no vacancy in posts. On the other hand the officials of other cadres do not get promoted even if there are vacant posts.

BCS general education observed one-day ‘all-out’ work abstention seeking an end to the discriminations existing among different cadres of the BCS, promotion and other demands. Education cadres of government colleges, teachers training colleges, alia madrasas, officials of education boards and secondary and higher education directorate officials observed the work abstention called by BCS General Education Association on 2 October.

The BCS education cadres threatened to  observe the work abstention on 10-12 October if their demands were not met. The term ‘all-out’ would so far be used for political programmes such as all out hartal, all out movement and so on. The government officials, too, have now joined the bandwagon. By using this term, the government officials stress on their obstinacy.

The association earlier demanded promotion by creating supernumerary positions, upgrading professor positions to third grade and so on.  The association alleged that separate recruitment rules were formed for primary education directorate, madrasa education board and government alia madrasas to ‘usurp’ the posts of education cadre officials. They claimed the move is in conflict with BCS general education composition and cadre rules and demanded the repeal of the separate recruitment rules. They also demanded removal of outsiders from the posts scheduled for education cadre officials.

According to the association, the education cadre is the most deprived cadre in terms of promotion. As many as seven thousand eligible officials’ promotions are currently due. Many education cadre officials are going to retirement as associate professors due to being deprived of promotion on time. On 27 September, 690 BCS education cadres were promoted to associate professor posts while the number of eligible candidates for promotion is around 3000.

It is illogical not to give promotion to education cadre officials while officials of other cadres enjoy promotion despite having no vacancies. During the all-out work abstention programme, the education cadre officials completely boycotted class and the education administration officials abstained from attending any official work. The loss of a working day in administrative work could be made up for but the guardians of education should note that work abstention of teachers for a day hampers the study of students greatly.

The demands of the education cadres are logical. The authorities should settle the issue through dialogue before the next course of protest. If teachers boycott class for consecutive three days, the education sector would suffer a great loss. Making up for the learning loss would be difficult. A survey by Ganasakkharata Ovijan revealed that a large section of students in secondary level could not make up for learning loss incurred by the covid situation. This is also applicable for the students of higher secondary and higher studies.

Indifference of the authorities towards the education cadre is not acceptable at all.