One teacher for one student. This is the student-teacher ratio at Government Primary School, Wajidpur village, Majri block, SAS Nagar district, a stone’s throw from Chandigarh. Before you start gloating, realise that it is nothing to be happy about. This is, in fact, a sign that the state government has failed in its duty to educate its children and the schools it runs do everything but impart knowledge.
The 1:1 student-teacher ratio is a pointer to systemic flaws in policy. Teachers don’t complain, students and parents are not too enamoured of the quality of education on offer and the bureaucrats and ministers seem only too happy to let things drift.
Take the Wajidpur school, for instance. Official record shows it has four students and two teachers, but when the HT team visited the school, a solitary teacher (substituting for the one assigned to the school) was seen whiling away the time, instructing the lone student. There seemed to be no concept of what subject was to be taught and for what purpose.
POOR DEMAND FOR GOVT EDUCATION REFLECTED
Data shows that the state government’s policy prescriptions for education are not working and their implementation is also a cause for concern.
Of the 267 primary schools in eight blocks of the district, 18 schools have less than 20 students on the rolls and 100 schools have less than 50 students. There are 1,236 teachers leading to an average of five teachers for a school. Yet as documented in several studies by both private and government organisations and in Classes 10 and 12 results, the district is invariably at the bottom on any list of academic achievement. This can only be explained by the poor standard of education in primary schools.
Rajesh Joshi, the teacher at the Wajidpur school, said: “My posting is at the Majri village school, but I am here August 1 (on Friday) as the teacher is on leave. There is only one student as most parents, even the poor, want their wards to study in private schools.”
Wajidpur sarpanch Harkirat Singh Mavi said, “The state government is not encouraging students to get admission in government schools. Who will put their children in schools, where there is no infrastructure and facilities?”
Two other primary schools at Matran and Sainimajra villages in Kharar Block 2 also have four and six students on the rolls, respectively. There are 14 other schools in the district with less than 20 students.
Meetu, a teacher at Matran village says, “We have only four students, but are trying to get more students to enrol. There are 60 houses in the village and with private schools also present, most students go there.”
In December 2013, the then Punjab education minister Sikander Singh Maluka had said that the state government had decided to merge schools with less than 20 students. He had also promised transport facilities as an incentive to push enrolment, but the pronouncements have failed to get off the ground.
TOMORROW THE POLICY AND ITS (MIS) IMPLEMENTATION