India Teacher Strike Over Chairs

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Teacher strike over chairs

A STAFF REPORTER - The Telegraph - Calcutta, INDIA
Thursday , January 19 , 2012

Teachers at Khalsa English High School in Bhowanipore have refused to take classes until the management apologises for removing chairs from classrooms.

The management of the English-medium school, run by a trust called Gurudwara Bara Sikh Sangat, had removed the chairs on January 9 since it felt that students are more attentive if their teacher stands while teaching. Several city schools do not allow the teachers to sit in the classroom for the same reason.

With 1,800 students sitting idle in the classroom for two days, the management of Khalsa English High School agreed to put chairs back in classrooms, but issued a notice that teachers found demeaning.

Teachers first refused to take classes on Tuesday, when they also wrote to the management demanding chairs in classrooms. The letter was signed by 50 of the school’s 65 teachers.

“Removing chairs from the classroom is humiliating. The chair is not just a seat: it is a symbol of authority,” said S. Das, a life science teacher.

Another teacher said they had to sometimes take five 40-minute classes at a stretch and found it impossible to be on their feet all the time.

“On Wednesday, the management said showcause notices would be served on us and those who are not permanent employees could leave if they did not take classes. We were forced to start a demonstration,” said Seema Mitra, an English teacher.

About 50 teachers demonstrated in the school from 8am to 5pm, demanding an apology and chairs in the classrooms.

The management later issued a notice, signed by honorary school secretary Barinder Singh, stating: “The teachers while addressing their lectures/lessons shall avoid sitting on chairs so as to control/monitor the students activities/discipline in class. However teachers who have any physical ailments/operations/physically handicapped (sic) may like to sit on chairs as and when they find it necessary.”

The notice also blamed the teachers for “poisoning and spoiling the academic atmosphere of the school and causing breach of school discipline”.