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The Odisha government’s decision to recruit 20,000 junior teachers through annual agreements, in what is said to be the largest hiring drive ever, has sparked controversy.

A notification from the school and mass education department stated that the engagement of junior teachers will continue to be based on annual agreements, with appointments renewed in subsequent years depending on performance.

In October last year, Chief Minister announced the abolition of the contractual recruitment system, leading to the regularization of over 57,000 contractual employees in various departments.

The department defended its decision, stating that the recruitment of junior teachers would fall under the central government’s Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan. The teachers will be referred to as “junior teachers (schematic)”.

The school and mass education secretary, Aswathy S, said, “Despite the recruitment being done under the Samagra Shiksha scheme, our government has already relaxed the norms to regularize their services. The recruitment will be done after a gap of seven years, and we hope to complete the process without any hindrance.”

According to the current practice, the jobs of junior teachers will be regularized after six years of service.

The Odisha School Education Programme Authority, under the department, will soon advertise for the recruitment of 20,000 junior teachers at one go.

An online computer-based test will be conducted, and district-wise and category-wise draft merit lists will be published on the authority’s website.

The decision to engage teachers through annual agreements has faced criticism, with opposition parties calling the BJD government’s decision to abolish the contract system as mere eyewash.

Leader Surath Biswal said, “When you said that there will be no contractual recruitment system, why are the junior teachers being recruited on an annual agreement basis?”

Bijay Malla, who heads the Contractual Employees’ Association of Odisha, expressed displeasure over the recent decision.

“It is unfortunate that junior teachers will continue to be recruited based on schemes, even though the contractual appointment system has been abolished. Candidates with bachelor’s degrees and diplomas in education who have already cleared the Teachers’ Eligibility Test will have to work with a monthly remuneration of Rs 11,000 for around six years,” Malla said.

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