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Para Teachers Mobilize State wide strike using Jharkhand Mobile Vaani

During the months of July to October 2012, Jharkhand Mobile Vaani was used extensively by Para-teachers to self-organize and use the platform to convey their demands to the government. Download the full report here.

In the state of Jharkhand, Para-teachers of the Government schools rallied support to fight for increase in their salary levels using Jharkhand Mobile Vaani (JMV) platform. Para-teachers are teaching assistants who aid the work of permanent teachers in Government schools. In the rural areas of Jharkhand, due to high rates of teacher absenteeism, Para-teachers shoulder the entire responsibility of imparting education to the students in the government schools. Their demands pertained to increment in salaries and other entitlements on account of a significant gap between their salaries and workload at school.

Para-teachers started voicing their discontentment on the JMV platform regarding low levels of salary since July 2012. Thousands of Para-teachers called in leaving messages that their salaries were meager corresponding to the amount of work they do and were insufficient to support their families. They expressed that such factors were a huge demotivation to carry out their duties.

Initially Para teachers from Bokaro district started leaving messages in JMV giving warnings to government that if their demands for an increment in salaries and other entitlements were not met with, they will hold fasts, practice civil disobedience and start a state-wide strike.

However, after repeated warnings there was no response to their demands. Owing to a cold reaction from the Government the Union members from the Bokaro district decided to declare a state-wide strike. Receiving bleak coverage in the mainstream media they began to publicize the strategy and updates related to their strike on JMV. Many conveyed their resentment towards the indifferent attitude and failing promises of the Government authorities to address the issue.

This trend caught attention of Para teachers from the districts of Giridih and Dhanbad, who followed suit and started sharing meeting and strike updates on JMV. During the Para Teacher’s Union meetings on the district and the state level, the information and updates related to strikes spread like viral across the state. Soon updates and comments started pouring in JMV from other districts of Jharkhand.
The messages on JMV brought many together to join the cause of Para- teachers. According to a unique story posted on JMV, an MLA joined the fight for the rights of the teachers by marching a ‘Padyatra’.
Constant Updates made by public on various meetings and awareness rallies such as motorcycle rallies, meetings, fasts, siege MLAs, were shared on JMV and were openly available to the multitude on JMV platform free of charge. Through JMV platform, Para- teachers from 13 districts of Jharkhand came together and mobilized the strike all across the state.

Hear some voices here:

Action Plan for Para Teachers’ Indefinite Strike – by K.C. Thakur [audio]
Kailash Chandra Thakur, the Bokaro District Spokesman for Para-Teachers called up to inform the listeners of JMV about the collective strike of all the Para-Teachers of Jharkhand, starting from 28th August 2012. He further informed that in this context, a meeting of the Kasmar block Para Teachers took place in Vinod Behari Smarak Mahavidyala, Mandira, Kasmar. In this meeting the action plan for the upcoming protest was discussed and decided upon.

Birni Para Teacher Chairperson shares updates on strike [audio]
Birni Block, Giridih, Para Teachers Association Chairperson, Gangadhar Ravidas spoke on JMV about their strike and the protest related events. Today they conducted inspection in various school premises in Markodi Sankul and found that all the schools are closed. No classes are taking place. Tomorrow, 47 para teachers are planning a siege around the local MLA, Vinod Singh’s house, another attempt at making their voices heard and their presence felt.

All Para Teachers on Strike, reports of rift false [audio]
Promod Singh from Pirtand block, Giridih district called up to inform the Jharkhand Association for Para Teachers that all the Para Teachers are on strike and requested the media not to spread rumors that Para teachers from across Jharkhand have not joined the protest fully. He also extended his sympathies to the parents of the children who are missing out on education, but told them that they are forced to go on protest due to the indifferent attitude of the Government towards the Para Teachers.

Dumri Block people support Para-teachers rally [audio]
Tarkeshwar Mahto from Dumri block, Giridih called up to report about the overwhelming support of villagers and local leaders received by Para Teachers in their area. Detailing on the matter he informed about the rally that the Para Teachers held in order to make everyone aware about their demands. They were very happy to see local leaders and villagers supporting them. On the occasion, the legislator of Dumri block also spoke about the justified demands of the para teachers. Mahto called JMR to thank all the people who came out in the open to support their demands and took part in the rally.

Student’s feedback on Para-Teachers Strike [audio]
Karormal Kumar, a school student from Dumri Tand Village, Latehar district called up to provide his feedback on the Para Teachers strike. He says that in the absence of para teachers, all the students keep on playing for the entire day. He is worried as to how the syllabus would be completed as the rich somehow manage to arrange for the tuitions for their children, but the poor people already live on limited means.