A week after teachers and other staff of non-MPO institutions postponed their agitation, those of the MPO-listed non-government schools, colleges and madrasas started demonstrations yesterday, demanding nationalisation of their jobs.
Several hundred teachers and employees under the banner of “Shikkhak Karmachari Oikya Jote”, a pro-BNP organisation, staged a sit-in in front of the Jatiya Press Club to press for their demand.
The organisation has been observing an indefinite strike since January 10. It threatened the government with non-stop agitation, assembling teachers from across the country if their demand was not met by yesterday.
Traffic from Kadam Foara to Paltan intersection came to a halt as the agitators started their demo around 9:00am, blocking Topkhana Road. Traffic congestion spilled onto the roads leading to the press club, causing sufferings to commuters.
In the evening, organisation chairman Selim Bhuiyan said, "We will stay at night as well to continue our non-stop sit-in till our demand is met."
Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid termed the demand impractical and said there was a political motive behind the demonstration.
Selim said the education minister insulted the teachers by announcing a hike in their house rent and medical allowance. "The teachers will not return home until an announcement about the nationalisation of our jobs comes.”
BNP leader Moudud Ahmed joined the sit-in, saying BNP will meet the teachers' demand if the party is voted into power.
Talking to reporters at the education ministry, Nahid observed, "I am compelled to say -- even though I never want to -- that there is a political motive behind the demonstration."
The demand for nationalising the jobs, at a time when teachers across the country are happy with the announcement of the hike, is creating confusion among the teacher community, the minister said.
Nahid questioned the organisation leader why he did not demonstrate during the tenure of his party's government if the demand is so important.
The teachers are making the demand now because the government just nationalised non-government primary schools, said the minister.
Nationalising the primary schools “was an obligation” but the same cannot be said of secondary schools, said Nahid. He urged the agitating teachers not to create confusion, adding talks may be held if necessary.