Vol. 5 Num 484 Wed. October 05, 2005  
Front Page

World Teachers Day
Daunting job, miserable pay for primary teachers

As the nation observes the World Teachers Day today, at least 10 thousand community primary school teachers serving the underprivileged rural children remain stuck in miserable living conditions with a monthly salary of Tk 750.

Employed to teach 10 lakh students across rural Bangladesh, they also do not get their salaries regularly whereas the education sector always gets the highest allocation in the national budget.

"We are given our salaries most of the time three months after the salary dates," said Hafizur Rahman, president of Bangladesh Community Primary Teachers Association.

The teachers said they have long been trying to call the government's attention to their plight but to no effect. Though the ministers on numerous occasions had assured them of bringing an end to their distress, in reality they never even seemed interested in taking steps to this end, they added.

Local Government Rural Development and Co-operatives (LGRD) Minister Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan in November last year in front of hundreds of teachers observing hunger strike on the Central Shaheed Minar premises had said the government would soon meet their demands.

The other demands include increase in education facilities including more rooms at the schools and education materials for the children.

As many as 10,565 teachers of 3,778 schools across the country have been observing indefinite strike since October 1, demanding salaries equal to those of teachers of the registered non-government primary schools.

The non-government primary school teachers get regularly 90 percent of Tk 2600 monthly salary from the government.

On the instructions of the primary and mass education ministry, thana-level committees led by thana education officers (TEOs) had appointed the community teachers between 1992 and 1995 through competitive examinations, both written and viva voce.

They told The Daily Star that most of them are graduate though the job circular required SSC as minimum qualification for females and HSC for males.

"We teach the underprivileged children in remote areas while our children are being deprived of education as it is impossible to maintain a family with only Tk 750," said Hafizur Rahman of Bhaluka in Mymensingh.

"The salary is so small that it's simply impossible to bear the family expenses. It becomes so embarrassing when people ask how much I get from the job," said a teacher trying to narrate the distressing situation he is in.

"We provide the same quality service as do the teachers of government primary schools. So, why should we suffer the discrimination, why we are not paid the same," questions Mahbubul Alam, general secretary of the association.

Academicians emphasised to spread out education especially primary education at the remote rural areas for making the country illiteracy free.

Educationist Prof Serajul Islam Choudhury said salary of the primary school teachers in rural areas should be raised in the interest of ensuring qualitative education. "It won't be possible to involve skilled people in primary education unless the salaries are increased. How can we expect quality education when these teachers are paid the lowest and that too is irregular," he added.

A meeting held at the office of primary and mass education Secretary AKM Samsuddin on May 18 recommended that the finance ministry approve for the community primary school teachers a monthly pay of Tk 1820, which would be 70 percent of Tk 2,600 scale. But the proposal has yet to be approved due to bureaucratic tangles, a source said.

If implemented, the salary proposal will cost the government over Tk 24 crore a year.

"We used to get Tk 500 as monthly salary from the government in 1992. Now after 12 years, we get Tk 750 when prices of essentials have shot up tenfold since 1992," said Mahbubul Alam.