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'Central funds could have solved para-teacher debacle'

Kolkata: State Education minister Partha Chatterjee on Sunday lashed out at the BJP leaders who have repeatedly gone to the agitation venue of the para-teachers and said if the Central government had disbursed the funds due for the state in time, the grievances of the agitators could have been met.

"Some of them (BJP leaders) have been saying a lot of things after visiting the agitation venue of the para-teachers. I will ask them to press for funds from the Centre so that this issue can be resolved. We have not been getting funds under the Samagra Siksha Abhiyan of the Centre. They have a budget of more than Rs 5,000 crore for us and out of it we have received only Rs 1,700 crore. Where should we get funds? They (the teachers) should understand the situation," Chatterjee said on the sidelines of a programme at Jyotish Roy College in Bijoygarh on Sunday.

He made it clear that he is always ready to sit for discussion with the para-teachers. "Has anyone of them said that they had asked me for talks and I have refused? I am always open for discussion. They should understand that our government has always been sympathetic towards the cause of the teachers and have increased their salaries time and again despite financial constraints," he added.

It may be mentioned that the para-teachers had started their agitation at Central Park from November 11 and since November 22, 30 of them have been on an indefinite fast. The location is very close to Bikash Bhavan, where the state Education department is situated.

A year ago the Education department had given a pay hike for 22,085 para-teachers at primary level, from Rs 5,954 to Rs 10,000. Similarly for 26,585 para-teachers at the higher secondary level, the increase in pay was from Rs 8,500 to Rs 13,000.

However, the para-teachers have alleged that the salary is meagre considering the present market condition and in comparison with the salary in other professions.

The Education department has already sought information on absence of the para-teachers from the schools. "If 1,000 para-teachers are sitting in agitation for so many days then how many students are suffering because of their absence? We are sympathetic and our Chief Minister has tried to address all issues of the teachers. She is taking some time and the teachers should understand that," the minister said.

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