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Teacher protest turns violent

Batons and tear gas disperse demonstrators

Teachers demonstrate in Dhaka for better and regular pay Teachers demonstrate in Dhaka for better and regular pay
  • ucanews.com reporter, Dhaka
  • Bangladesh
  • October 5, 2012
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About 100 teachers were injured in Dhaka yesterday when police used batons and  lobbed tear gas to disperse a group demonstrating for better pay.

“We charged only after teachers tried to ignore the blockade and pelted brick chips at us,” said assistant police commissioner Nurul Islam.

More than 1,000 teachers have been protesting in the capital for the past four days, demanding to be added to the government payroll system (MPO). Only about half of Bangladesh’s primary schools are nationalized, and the privately run schools pay poorly and irregularly, teachers say.

Teachers at MPO-administered institutes get better pay as well as medical and housing allowances.

Jahedul Islam, 38, a secondary school teacher from the Panchagarh district said that despite teaching for 13 years, he relies on income from tutoring and weekend work as a laborer.

“I can’t run my family well or offer good treatment to my sick elderly parents,” Islam said. “I don’t know how I can manage.”

The Non-MPO Educational Institutes Teachers-Employees Union has submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, demanding MPO entitlements, job security and an end to irregularities and corruption in the payroll system.

Organizer Tapash Kumar Kundu said yesterday the teachers would suspend protests after the prime minister agreed to meet with them on Monday.

In August, after similar demonstrations by primary school teachers, the Education Ministry said the government will nationalize 26,284 more schools in three phases by 2014.

Successive governments in the past decade claim to have prioritized the education sector, which continues to get an increased budget allocation every fiscal year. But teachers maintain that funding remains insufficient.

“The government plans to nationalize educational institutions as many as possible, but not all at a time,” said Parvez Rahim, a deputy director with the Primary and Mass Education Department. “We have a funding crisis, and it takes time to regularize institutions.”

Home to over 152 million people, Bangladesh is one of poorest nations in the world with around 40 percent of its people living below the poverty line. Nearly half of the population is illiterate.

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