The TET Scam and the Disillusionment of the Common Student

The winds of change have not lived up to the expectations of the people of West Bengal. In the last four years there is only little else that, the people of Bengal are left to see. People had thought that, they were putting a woman in power; she would be empathetic towards the state of women in the state. But, the last four years has seen a series of ‘chhotto ghotonas’ (small incidents) and ‘shajano ghotonas’ (made-up incidents) where women have been the victims. 

The education sector has also been under attack. Sometimes, students have been beaten up by the police within their college campus after putting out the lights and in other instances, college teachers have been insulted and beaten up by the ‘young boys’ of the students’ wing of the ruling party. There has been much controversy also surrounding the recruitment of teachers in educational institutions over the past four years. Now again, a controversy has come to light. On 23rd August, 2015 the question papers for the primary TET exam were being transported in a bus and on the way, mysteriously one of the bags of papers went missing. The scheduled date of the exam was 30th August, 2015. 

Apart from the multi-crore Sharadha scam, the other scam that the TMC government has been involved is the, TET and SSC exam scam. Over the past four years, even though the government has been able to conduct the secondary TET exam once and the primary TET exam once but, there is a lack of clarity with respect to these being conducted fairly. When the Left Front Government sat in Writer’s Building, the teacher recruitment exams were conducted fairly and in an organised manner and were completed well within the fee year. The School Service Commission (SSC) was also set up during the Left Front rule and following which, regularly teacher recruitment exams were conducted by the commission. 

The Chief Minister , Mamata Banerjee, in  her public speeches has announced time and again that, one lakh recruitments will be made in the education sector- 35000 primary teachers, 46000 secondary teachers, 1400 college teachers, 6000 university heads, 3500 librarians and 7000 college and university non-teaching staff will be recruited. But, in the past four years, only 17000 primary teachers and 22000 secondary teachers have been recruited. 

After 2012, the state government had set the date for the secondary TET exam on 31st March, 2014 but, this date had to be changed keeping in mind the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The revised date was 30th August, 2015 which, again was suddenly changed to 16th August, 2015. Similarly for the primary TET exam, the government had decided on 30th March, 2014 which following a court order and also due to the Lok Sabha Elections was changed to 30th August, 2015. But, a week prior to the scheduled date of the exam, a bag of question papers mysteriously went missing from the bus that was transporting the papers. Following this incident, the government was forced to change the date of the exam once again. 

When leader of the opposition, Mr. Surjya Kanta Mishra was asked his views regarding the recent turn of events surrounding the primary TET exam, he said, “I have been seeing the news of the question paper being leaked for the past three days, but this is not only about questions being leaked, the papers are being sold. We have information regarding where and from which Police Station the papers are being sold.” On the other hand, Ms.Banerjee chose not to dwell on the topic of massive anarchy prevalent in the education sector in her speech addressing the students on the occasion of the foundation day of the Trinamool Chhatra Parishad (TMCP). 

The authorities have begun investigating into the mysterious disappearance of the bag of question papers from the bus and already many discrepancies have come to light. Two employees of the Serampore Post office , Arup Das and Arup Mukherjee were travelling in the bus. In the statements they have given to the CID, they say that, suddenly realised while sitting in the moving bus that, one of the bags had fallen out of a broken window in the bus and realising this, they stopped the bus and got off to look for this bag. Now, the question arises that, was a single bag that heavy that, since it fell off the bus, the two men could feel the rear portion of the bus get lighter? Their statements have increased suspicion further surrounding the entire incident. These two gentlemen are leaders of the post office employees’ union that aligns itself with the ruling party.

On 28th August, 2015 the education minister, Mr. Partha Chaterjee announced that, those candidates who had been unable to download the acknowledgement card before the 30th August exam could do so within one week starting from 31st August, 2015. It had been previously announced that, candidates who had been unsuccessful in the primary TET exam held in 2012, could sit for the exam with the admit cards that were issued during the 2012 exam. Soon after, it was announced that all the previously unsuccessful candidates must carry an acknowledgement card which they could download along with their admit cards. One month time prior to the exam to be held on 30th August, 2015 had been set aside for the candidates to download this acknowledgement card. So, now the question arises that why the government is making the option available for downloading this card again? The education minister reasoned that, apparently many complaints had reached him regarding the inability of many candidates to download this acknowledgement card.  Why were certain candidates unable to download the acknowledgement card? Do these candidates have close relations with the ruling party? Is this entire mysterious disappearance of the question papers actually a fabrication by the ruling party to ensure that ‘their’ candidates can give the exam and then can be recruited? 

Back in 2012, the unfair practices surrounding the TET exam was brought to light by the chairperson of the South 24 Parganas Primary Education Commission. They said that, the merit list for the exam was finalised in the Trinamool Party Office of the district. Following these claims when, investigations were made all over the state it was seen that, various candidates who had been successful were close relatives and friends of leaders of the ruling party. In spite of such massive corruption, many candidates who had paid money to local TMC leaders to ensure that they clear the exam remained unsuccessful and thus, there was much discord within the party at various local levels. So, it is also being said that, this entire chain of events had been a setup to ensure that all these candidates could emerge successful this time around. 

Only 2 months back, on 28th June, the colleges in the state offering ITI courses were to hold an entrance examination. But the exam stood cancelled because that time too, the questions had been leaked. On further investigation by the CID, a TMC leader from the Kalyani area was found to be involved. Dr. Surjya Kanta Mishra has claimed that, then too papers had been sold off for large sums of money. 

Since, the 30th August, 2015 stood cancelled, the government announced the new date for the exam as 4th October, 2015. But, questions arose regarding the selection of this new date also. There are many by-elections on the 3rd of October for many seats of many municipalities all over the state. So, doubts were raised as to whether the state machinery will be prepared enough to conduct the state-wide primary TET exam on the absolute next day. In the face of these questions and an already tarnished public image, the government has finally decided to shift the date to 11th October, 2015. Now, 12th October happens to be Mahalaya and many shops hire extra help prior to Durga Puja to deal with the increased work load. These positions are usually filled in by otherwise unemployed individuals, providing a vital be it informal source of income. Many of these individuals are also candidates preparing for many job recruitment exams like the TET. Now, if the TET exam is to be held on the 11th October, 2015 ,many of these people will be unable to work in the shops and will lose out on an important source of income.

Whenever this government being run by hoodlums and business people has gotten an opportunity, they have robbed the common people of Bengal off their money ensuring them either jobs, a seat in a college or a good return. Lakhs of people have lost their life savings in the Sharadha scam, local TMC leaders have collected money from people in their locality ensuring a job, the college TMCP hoodlums have charged exorbitant sums of money for getting one admission in the college or worse have even sexually exploited young girls in return for the same. The present TMC government has given people enough to be distraught over in the past 4 years. Let’s hope the people of the state are in the right mind to not try and experiment for a few more years.

The SFI West Bengal State Committee along with eleven other students’ and youth organisations has called for a march to Raj Bhavan in protest of the TET scam on the fifteenth of September. That day is the Students’ Demand Day. The rally will set out from College Square at 12 pm calling for education for all and also protesting the corruption related to the TET. 

A signature campaign is being conducted on this issue between the 7th and 14th of September, to be submitted to the governor along with a letter from the students and youth of the state on the 15th. The contents of the letter is attached.

9th September 2015