On the sixth day of the ongoing indefinite strike by primary teachers in state-run schools in Odisha, approximately 1.30 lakh teachers collectively took mass leave, resulting in the closure of about 54,000 schools statewide. Despite the Odisha government’s plea to end their strike, the teachers continued their agitation.
The United Primary Teachers Federation initiated this indefinite strike on September 8th to demand the elimination of the contractual appointment system, an increase in grade pay, and the restoration of the previous pension scheme. The strike has left approximately 40 lakh students from state-run schools without access to education.
Protests took place in front of the offices of block education officers (BEOs), and a large number of schools had to remain locked due to the teachers’ strike. In some cases, only a few teachers were available to conduct classes.
The teachers expressed frustration with the government’s response, stating that instead of addressing their demands, the government had formed a sub-committee, which they believed was only meant to delay the process. Opposition parties, including the BJP and Congress, criticized the state government for failing to address the concerns of the teachers.
The state BJP spokesperson criticized the government for its inability to provide proper salaries to teachers, especially in light of other significant expenditures. The state Congress president described the situation in the education system as an “emergency” and accused the government of not taking action to resolve the issues.
In response, a BJD MLA assured that the state government would indeed address the teachers’ legitimate demands.