More than 110 government schools have been closed down in Rajasthan in the last three months by angry people over lack of teachers, an NGO has said, underlining the sharp contrast in a state with a flourishing private coaching sector.
The report by the NGO, RTI Manch, said 113 government schools, including primary and higher, have been closed down in six districts — Rajsamand, Boondi, Kota, Dausa, Baran and Tonk — from July to September.
According to another independent survey, only 50% schools in Rajasthan meet the desired teacher student ratio set by the Right to Education (RTE), 30:1 for primary schools and 50:1 for secondary schools.
Also, Rajasthan has a dropout rate of 8% in primary schools and lowest student enrolment amongst BIMARU states (Census 2011).
The state’s literacy rate of 67% is also lower than the national average of 75%.
“We compiled this report after reading numerous incidents of teachers getting locked out of their schools by villagers because they never come on time. We contacted various pro education organisations about similar incidents in their region and then came with an astonishing figure of 113 schools in 3 months. The statistics itself show the enormity of the problem which the government refuses to address,” said a member of the RTI Manch Mukesh who uses only the first name.
Lack of teachers in rural schools has become a major problem for the students as they face difficulty in completing their syllabus in stipulated time.
In a recent demonstration, around 150 students of a senior secondary school at Choru village in Tonk district protested the lack of teachers.
“We have no teacher for English, Geography and Social Sciences for the past four months. We somehow manage our syllabus through group study but how are we supposed to study English without any assistance? We desperately need teachers,” said Maneesha Saini (16), a Class 10 student.
In a similar incident in Bhim village of Rajsamand district, around 700 girl students of a senior secondary school locked down the school for the lack of teachers. Allegedly the school had no principal for the past 11 years and three teachers were posted to teach 700 students.
Educationists believe that the state government’s lack of will to uplift the educational system is the reason behind these increasing number of school lock down incidents.
“The government does not want to spend on public education. To save money and further degrade the scenario, they are just letting things be the way they are. They have already launched the private-public partnership in schools so now it’s only a long wait till corporate schools take over. Till then, the education department has decided to just sit back and watch the show,” said Vishambhar, educationist and a former member of Children Rights Platform.
Some activists have also called for a fair and transparent transfer policy to be enacted to end the teacher crisis.
Rajasthan School Teachers’ Association (RSTA) has also blamed the government for not filling the vacant teachers posts.
“40,000 teaching posts have been terminated due to staffing pattern and not even one posting was done after 5,000 higher secondary schools were converted into senior secondary. In my view, the government is launching schemes after schemes without a basic vision or the will to appoint teachers,” said Ram Krishna Agarwal, president, RSTA.