Once again contract teachers in India, protesting for labour rights and permanent contracts have been brutally attacked by police. The incidents happened in the town of Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir state, where teachers were teargassed, beaten and six were injured, one seriously. There were also some 36 arrests. Only in April, we reported similar scenes in the town, and such violence is often throughout India. 

There are some 65,000 contract teachers in the state who are on a monthly salary of $48 - yet they form the backbone of the teaching force in public schools. Now the goernment is questioning their credentials to teach, even though they were appointed by a transparent process and many of them have degrees or even in some cases PhDs. The president of the teachers' union said: 'We are protesting against the dictatorial decision of the government which is bent on insulting us.' The treatment of the protesting teachers just adds injury to insult and reflects the contempt with which the state treats its public school teachers.

The teachers say they will strike if the tests are not revoked.

The policy of hiring teachers on temporary contracts is rampant all over the global South, particularly in South Asia. It is one which is enthusiastically promoted by the World Bank, in document after document. Such a policy ties in with their mantra of 'getting more for less', as well as, in their view, disciplining teachers. As they say in their infamous document, 'the use of contract teachers can strengthen the scope for local monitoring of teacher performance by parents and school councils, which results in higher teacher effort, which results in better student learning outcomes.'

In fact the failure to treat teachers in a respectful way has dire consequences, both for students and  for the teachers themselves. There are many cases both in India and elsewhere of teacher suicide as a result of the uncertainty and poverty caused by this practice. Moreover the frequent protests and strikes in India are a direct result of the determination of teachers to be treated justly and to defend public education. As another teachers in the Sirangar protests put it: 'Teachers are nation builders and we know our responsibilities. But the government is showing a cavalier attitude towards us. This only exposes the government's hollow claims of bringing improvement in the education sector in the state.' The same could be said with equal justice about the World Bank, the main purveyor of the 'more for less' doctrine.