Why do teachers take to the streets?


.Teachers of non-MPO educational institutions have announced that they would resume their movement if their inclusion in the MPO (Monthly Pay Order) was not ensured in the proposed budget. When they took up position outside of the National Press Club on Sunday as declared, the police obstructed them. Some of them tried to stage their sit-in demonstration despite the police obstruction.

But the education minister, Nurul Islam Nahid, called upon the teachers not to take up any movement, assuring them that these institutions would be included in the MPO.

There are 80,000 teachers and employees of non-MPO educational institutions in the country. Hundreds of thousands of students study in these institutions and some of these institutions have done well in the public exams.

Inclusion of educational institutions in the MPO category in Bangladesh has become a political issue to a certain extent. When influential persons are attached to certain institutions, these easily are included on the MPO list, even if performance of the institutions isn’t good.

And many good institutions fail to be included as they lack the clout to lobby. Similar discrimination and bias is seen when it comes to nationalising the educational institutions.

Non-MPO educational institution teachers had staged a strike in front of the Press Club last December as well, but withdrew their programme after a few days when an official of the prime minister’s office gave them certain assurances.

They had hoped that they would be included in the MPO category in the budget for 2018-19 financial year. But no such allocation was mentioned in the finance minister’s budget speech and so they resumed their strike.

When an official of the prime minister’s office assured the teachers that their demands would be given due consideration, then the teachers naturally assumed that the matter has the approval from the highest quarters. They waited for six months.

The government’s policy concerning education, teachers and educational institutions is contradictory, one-sided and discriminatory. On one had it has nationalised many educational institutions despite their being no demand to do so. Yet the teachers of the non-MPO institutions are not even receiving minimum salaries or allowances. In fact, in many cases they have to pay fat amounts to get these jobs. These teachers and their families are suffering, not receiving their due wages. How long can they endure?

The non-MPO educational institutions must be brought under MPO coverage to save the teachers. If the teachers do not survive, nor will the institutions, nor will education.

The education minister had requested the teachers not to strike as they will suffer during Ramadan. The teachers can, in turn, ask that the government meet their demands. Then they wouldn’t have to take to the streets. It is shameful that the teachers, in whose hands the future of the nation lies, have to take to the streets time and again.

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