Mumbai/Nagpur: Over 60,000 government aided schools across Maharashtra remained shut Friday as around 700,000 teachers and non-teaching staff went on a strike to press for their demands, an official said here.
"We are opposing the state government's blatant refusal to stay a controversial decision which will render more than 45,000 teachers suddenly surplus. As a result millions of students will suffer and this could contravene the provisions of the Right To Education," Kapil Patil, head of Shishak Bharati, an umbrella organisation of the various teachers' unions told IANS.
The decision was taken early in October 2014 but following protests by the teaching and non-teaching staff, it was stayed by the former education minister Rajendra Darda of the erstwhile Congress-NCP government.
"Now, the new BJP-Shiv Sena government has taken over and School Education Minister Vinod Tawde has decided to go ahead and implement that decision aggressively. It appears as if they want to shut down all government-aided schools," Patil added.
The strike decision followed an unsuccessful meeting between Tawde and seven members of the Legislative Council that represents the various teachers' constituencies yesterday in Nagpur.
Kapil said that at the meeting, Tawde remained adamant about not staying the earlier decision though he would take a call on it within a week.
Those present at the meeting included Patil, Vikram Kale, Sudhir Tambe, Nago Ganar, Ramnath Mote, D. Samant, Shrikant Deshpande, Satish Chavan, Niranjan Davkhare and others who attempted to convince the minister.
Yesterday, the teachers' upped their ante by taking out a semi-nude procession in Napgur - where the Maharashtra Legislature's winter session is currently on - to draw the government's attention to their plight.
"Tawde's behavior is very arbitrary. We are surprised that when he was in the opposition, he always supported our cause, but after coming to power he has gone back on his promise to take a suitable decision... Its like a complete U-turn," Patil said.
Maharashtra has around 100,000 schools, including 60,000 which are aided, plus the rest which include private and others run by local government agencies.
They employ a total of around 700,000 teachers and non-teaching staff and cater to an 18 million student population in the state.