Though the State Government has bagged an award, primary education continues to present a dismal picture.
WHILE THE State Government has been patting itself on the back for an ‘improvement’ in the education sector over the past three years, the scenario in primary and basic education continues to be dismal at the grass roots level.
Moreover, there is a question mark over a recent education award conferred on the State.
“The State Government has bagged the award on the basis of fake data,” alleged leader of the teachers' group in the Vidhan Parishad Om Prakash Sharma.
“Amid the prevailing gloom, officers are trying to present a rosy picture,” Sharma said.
Even though there is no dearth of money, it is not reflected in the overall condition of primary and basic education in the State.
The State Government spent Rs 3897. 65 crore on primary, basic and higher education in the last fiscal. The sum included Rs 330 crore on midday meal. “But there is no noticeable change,” said a senior IAS officer.
Though the government has created infrastructure over the past three years, it has not been able to make a dent in the overall illiteracy in the State. There was no increase in the number of teachers, Sharma said.
Fifty per cent of the 1.29 lakh primary and basic schools were ‘single-teacher’ schools, he added.
The government tried to bridge the gap by appointing 'Shiksha Mitras'. But that move also failed to solve problems. Village pradhans, who are the appointing authority, engaged the Shiksha Mitras in non-teaching activities, said Sharma.
In fact, the huge government expenditure on education should have led to improved literacy, reduction in the dropout rate and a high attendance rate in schools. But none of this has happened.
Sharma said the midday meal scheme had not improved the health of schoolchildren.
"There is massive pilferage in the midday meal scheme,” said an IAS officer.
Twenty-five of the 70 districts received over Rs 50 crore in the last fiscal.
Another 13 districts got Rs 40 to 50 crore.
Rashtriya Lok Dal president Chaudhury Ajit Singh's home district Baghpat was the only one to receive Rs 14.86 crore.
In Kanpur, 25 primary schools have been without a single student for the last two academic sessions. This belies claims of officials about 100 per cent admission of students in primary schools under the much-hyped Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan (Education for All campaign).
Officials said these schools had lost their importance because others had come up in the area. Thus, a process had been initiated to merge them with other schools, they claimed,
Additional director (Basic) Rekha Srivastava said the admission rate in Kanpur division was 100 per cent and the dropout rate six to seven per cent.
As many as 156 of the 338 schools in the urban areas are being run in hired buildings, most of which are dilapidated.
The fact was corroborated by both the AD (Basic) and basic shiksha adhikari Komal Yadav. They agreed on the need to shift these schools to government-owned buildings.
Yadav doubted the commitment of teachers in rural areas.
Om Prakash Sharma said teachers were being posted to schools where they need not go. All this was being done in connivance with the village pradhan and officials, it was alleged.
"There is a price for such postings", Sharma commented. He said there was a massive shortage of teachers all over the state.
The education department is in a mess in Bareilly. The district has reported at least ten per cent dropout rate in primary and basic schools. Large-scale transfer of teachers has made matters worse. Nearly 46 lakh students are registered in primary schools in Bareilly, but their attendance is less than 40 per cent. It shoots up to 90 per cent, whenever kheer-puri is distributed as midday meal. It touches 100 per cent when scholarship is distributed. "Education for all has turned out to be a mere slogan," said Intermediate Teachers' Association general secretary and MLC Panchanan Rai. He said the situation was deplorable in the entire eastern UP. He alleged there was massive bungling of the World Bank fund for education.
"Officials are only painting a rosy picture on paper, but the ground reality is different," said Rai.
In Varanasi, the basic infrastructure in rural educational institutes is not too bad. As per official records, the government owns school buildings in rural areas.
This is not the case in urban areas, where most of the schools are being run in rented accommodation.
However, there is a shortage of teachers in rural areas.
"Yes, we are facing a shortage of teachers in the rural areas of Varanasi division," said assistant director (Basic Education) Satish Singh.
But, in Agra, infrastructure for primary and basic education continues to be neglected. There are about 1770 primary schools and 450 junior schools in Agra district. Most of them are single-teacher schools.
However, officiating deputy basic shiksha adhikari RS Yadav said, "There is no paucity of funds and the dropout rate has gone down from 40 per hundred to 20 per hundred." Similarly, primary education is in the doldrums in Bahraich. Several attractive and beneficial schemes of the State and the Central Governments have failed to yield desired results.
The much-hyped 'Sarva Shiksha Abhyan' (Education for All) and the 'School Chalo Abiyan' have lost their sheen in the district.
As many as 156 schools are on the brink of closure due to shortage of teachers.
In the rural areas of Allahabad, there are dozens of schools which have no buildings and permanent teachers.
State Institute of Education and Management Training director Dr K M Tripathi said though the State had come first in implementing the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, there was an urgent need to create a pool of well-trained English and maths teachers to ensure quality. "Many schools have no regular teachers. We have to take special care in appointing more teachers," said Dr Tripathi.