Finally, the government was obliged to surrender to the demands of non-government teachers of schools, colleges and madrasahs. May be it has not agreed to meet the demand hundred per cent but partially their demands have been met.
The education minister gave a declaration on August 6 but some ambiguities were noted in his announcements. For this reason, discrepancy has been observed among the teachers' organisations about the next programmes from their fronts.
Before deciphering anything about the announcement of the education minister , the pro-government teachers' organisations brought out victory rally. They did not delay for a while. As soon as the minister announced that the government will pay 100 per cent salary of the non-government teachers including schools, colleges and madrashas, the pro-government teachers' organisation brought out procession.
But apart from increasing salary the education minister instructed that fees collected from the students must be deposited to the government fund. And in this regard, National Front of Teachers and Employees (NFTE) convener Kazi Faruq Ahmed has termed the government's decision as deceptive. He also said that conditional agreement or the proposal from the government is not acceptable to the teachers.
The issue of depositing student fees to the governmentfund is remarkable here and in this regard people have strong reservation. Yes, the government has announced that it will pay 100 per cent salary to the teachers of non-government schools, colleges and madarshas adding 10 per cent to the existing 90 per cent, but still teachers in these institutions are deprived of many facilities compared to government teachers.
According to the scale of Tk 6,800 a government lecturer gets basic salary Tk 6,800 Tk, house rent Tk 2,720 (40 per cent house rent), medical allowance Tk 500. So a lecturer in a government is getting monthly a sum of Tk 9020. What is the picture of non-government college lecturers? We may now look at the discriminatory picture of salary structure of these sections of our society. According to the new announcement, a non-government lecturer will enjoy Tk 6,800 (hundred per cent government donation), Tk 150 medical allowance, Tk 100 house rent and in total Tk 7050. So discrimination is obvious!
Let us drop this simple issue and we may now come back to the issue of long time episode of deprivation the non-government teachers have been facing. After doing job for seven years the salary of a government lecturer will be Tk 9075 (yearly increment by Tk 325), house rent Tk 3,630(40 per cent) and medical allowance Tk 500, so the total amount will be Tk 13,205. But what will be the salary of the non-government lecturers after seven years? After seven years, he or she will get Tk 7,175 in total. After one year he or she gets Tk 7050 as one increment is added which is according to the scale of 1993. After doing job for 25 years when a government teacher may get more than Tk 30,000 at that time due to the curse of quota system a non-government teacher will get Tk 7,175.
I mentioned in my previous writings in this newspaper that the non-government teachers are deprived in many ways. Through their career even with the highest degree (PhD) in their respective discipline they will get only one promotion, from lecturer to assistant professor. The scene is straightforward for government teachers. Depending upon qualification and scope, teachers will get time-to-time promotion and they will be promoted to assistant, associate or full professorships.
Considering all the aspects it is not possible for the non-government teachers to submit the student fees to the government fund. Besides these, in the schools and colleges of local area most of the students study with the lowest fees, or even free. The meager amount of money they collect from student fees is spent behind management expense and some other expenditure. A part of it is used for paying the house rent and other facilities of teachers. If student fee is deposited to the government fund then the facilities of teachers in well-established schools of urban areas will be contracted. May be it will not be acceptable to all. Yes, teachers will agree to deposit the student fees to the government fund when the government will agree to provide the non-government teachers with the equal facilities it gives to the teachers in government institutions.
In case of festival allowance, the experience of non-government teachers is another history of deprivation. After a longtime the government has started paying festival allowance and in some cases a teacher receives less than an employee.
After month-long strike this year one thing has been very clear to all which is that the government is not earnest or eager for the gradual development of non-government schools, colleges and madrashas. About 13 million students study in non-government schools, colleges and madrashas. But no government has made basic contribution to this sector of education. For this indispensable reason, all the achievements in non-government institutions have been attained through movement.
Through a massive movement in 1979 by non-government teachers the then Ziaur Rahman government included non-government teachers in national pay scale for the first time on January 1, 1980. The government agreed to pay 50 per cent of the basic salary. At that time the government was bound not only to include the non-government teachers in the national pay scale but also to pay them the arrears of seventeen months. So, the then non-government school and college teachers received 50 per cent of their basic salary from the government fund.
During the regime of Ershad, teachers were able to increase their salary by 20 per cent (10 per cent and 10 per cent) through two stages of movement. As a result, the salary reached to 70 per cent of the basic salary. Again in 1994, teachers of all the non-government schools, colleges and madrahas called strike and after 44 days of strike the then Khaleda Zia government agreed to pay another 10 per cent salary and teachers started enjoying 80 per cent of their basic salary from the government.
During the regime of past Sheikh Hasina government teachers observed a strike of 49 days and the government agreed to pay another 10 per cent and finally the salary reached to 90 per cent. The non-government teachers went on movement again in 2006 and finally their movement has been successful albeit not fully though they will get hundred per cent salary from government.
One thing still remains mysterious when around 13 million students study in non-government institutions why no government takes any pragmatic step to improve their fate or bring change in the fates of non-government teachers? May be the great hindrance in this regard is the word 'non-government'. This word has been attached to the educational institutions, which are not equipped with hundred per cent government facilities. For this reason government officers face tremendous problems for doing anything for non-government teachers. And many black laws are enforced which may be dubbed as oppressive laws. Another issue is important: may be the ministers of government think that what non-government teachers are paid is okay and is sufficient. Why will they have to be paid more? Even a section of people of the society like to think why the government will pay the salary of non-government teachers.
Dr. Md. Saidur Rahman is assistant professor, English in Chuknagar College, Khulna and commentator, Bangladesh Television and Bangladesh Betar