The practice of recruiting staff, in schools or elsewhere, on contract basis, for a long period is a contradiction in terms and should be made illegal
The 26,151 temporary teachers of the community schools in the country have been in agitation for several years, demanding confirmation as permanent teachers through internal competition, as well as other facilities. This problem is the accumulation of years of politicizing the education sector and recruiting cadres or other loyalists of political leaders as school teachers. This trend strengthened particularly after the restoration of the multiparty system in 1990. Teachers have been appointed on various bases in the country since then, on contract, temporary, on lien, permanent and so on. Many teachers were recruited under contract, something which was an easier option to do for people in authority, and also on temporary basis, which was also easy. But for permanent teachers, a lengthy process had to be followed and a free competition had to be held to pass both written examination and interviews. Teachers on contract or on temporary basis, by definition, mean that that are there for a short period of time until permanent teachers are appointed. But in Nepal, teachers were put on contract or temporary basis for many years, and many of such teachers have retired in that capacity, getting no pension and other facilities and perks to which permanent teachers are entitled to under the law and the regulations.
Successive governments have been guilty of this state of affairs. The Eighth Amendment to the Education Act has given such temporary teachers options: They can choose to compete for permanent status or bow out by getting a golden handshake. Those going for the first option would lose the financial package they have been offered if they fail to pass the examination for confirmation. But the temporary teachers and the various associations representing them are demanding that they should be given the golden handshake even if they fail the tests. The government’s new options are not a bad offer because the teachers will get something. The education sector should have the best qualified people as teachers in community schools because they produce the future stars of the country. And no doubt, school teachers should be given better salaries and perks than they are getting at present; only such an attractive pay packet would attract better candidates to the teaching profession.
What should be regrettably admitted is that by politicizing the education sector, the political leaders brought mediocre manpower to the teaching profession and allowed them to carry on party politics there, even by neglecting their prime duty of teaching. By the present offer of the government, this problem would be somewhat resolved and then better teachers can be brought to the community schools. The Education Act has been amended without satisfying the demands of the temporary teachers and the imminent set of regulations accompanying the amended law will only pave the way for its implementation. The practice of recruiting staff, in schools or elsewhere, on contract or temporary basis, for a long period is a contradiction in terms and should be made illegal, as it has already caused huge problems of various sorts, including problems of substandard manpower, in universities, in corporations, as well as in other government bodies.
Assist quake victims
As many as 12,000 earthquake victims in Bhumultar and Phalante VDCs located to the east of the Koshi River of the Kavre district have been deprived of grant assistance to be provided by the government for the reconstruction of their damaged houses. They were left out when the National Reconstruction Authority carried out a household survey as these people did not possess land-ownership certificates or any other documents proving that the land and houses they had occupied belonged to them.
The Council of Ministers is mulling addressing their concerns. The government should provide these victims financial support as they seem to be squatter families residing in public property. Although they do not possess land-ownership certificates they are Nepali citizens and they should not be deprived of the government assistance simply because they do not have private property. On the other hand the government should also take a decision to register the public land they have occupied in their names so that they can get financial and other logistic support from the government.
A version of this article appears in print on December 21, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.