2300 educated and qualified youth in the Solan district of Himachal Pradesh have occupied the Children’s Park overlooking the District Collector’s office. They are demand the rightful employment that had been promised them when they enrolled for the District Institute of Educational Training’s much publicized Junior Basic Training (JBT) course in the hopes of become teachers in government schools.
IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent Avdesh Negi happened to attend one of their protest sit-ins and he produced a video articulating the discontent and demands of the group.
Prior to 2008, the youth who enrolled in the JBT were given a bond to sign in which the government guaranteed then a job within one year if the students guaranteed that they would be willing to take up the position offered irrespective of the location at which it was available.
The trouble began in 2008, when the batch kept waiting for the bond to arrive but never did. Instead, the government began to issue promises whose deadlines had a tendency to jump back just when they seemed around the corner. Then later, a Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) was introduced. JBT pass-outs now had to clear the test before they became eligible for unemployment.
And adding salt to the wounds was the Siksha Mitra plan in which the village head and the School Management Committee (SMC) in the Panchayats were given the right to choose a teacher of their own choice for the schools in the village. The suitable candidate required no JBC or TET, only the blessings of the village head and the committee.
The JBT batch of 2008, 2009 and 2010 who had invested who had invested their hopes, dreams, futures and money into the course found themselves at the losing end of bad deal. Some of them had resorted to loans to pay for their enrollment. Weeks, months and years seemed to pass and the government kept making promises without delivering. Their anger and discontent came to the fore. They came together to form the JBT Behrozgaar Sangh, Batch 2008-2010. They first made appeals to the government. Their appeals were met with more promises. Finally, they decided to hold a protest.
Says Avdesh, “Solan is the education hub of Himachal. The government promoted the building of universities, colleges and schools to stop the brain drain in which Himachal’s best and brightest were forced to leave the state to pursue further education. In this effort, they have succeeded. But now when the time has come to deal with the educated youth passing out of these institutions, the government is clearly at a loss. The worst part of the government response is that it is being condescending and taking the hopes and dreams of the youth for granted.”
Avdesh himself has been actively looking for a job for sometime now. He describes it as an experience in extreme frustration, alternatively dispiriting and enraging. “I think I’m at a moment where I am giving up on any possibility of living in Himachal. I think now, I will have to move away from home,” he says, articulating the despair of thousands of the state’s educated unemployed.