More than 80% posts of block primary education officers (BPEO) in Punjab are lying vacant as files of promotion cases have been awaiting the education minister's approval for the past more than two years.
No departmental promotion has been done in the past more than five years on seniority basis and existing BPEOs have been given the charge of many other blocks. As many as 185 posts of BPEOs are vacant out of the total 228 posts in the state.
"Despite several meetings with the chief minister on the issue, no steps have been taken by the department to fill the vacancies," said Bhupinder Singh Warraich, state president of the democratic teachers' front, adding that, "Whenever we approach them with our problems, we get the same reply that the government would normalise things in a fortnight."
"In many districts, there are only two BPEOs against 8-10 posts. The BPEOs are responsible for monitoring elementary schools, release of salary bills and other coordinating jobs. Due to work overload, the primary education system has virtually crumbled in the state," he added.
"Many vacancies of centre incharges, centre head teachers, headmasters and principals are also vacant," said Sucha Singh, another teacher, adding that, "More than 42% of the schools are without heads."
"Each BPEO is responsible for four schools under his jurisdiction. You cannot expect quality under such conditions," said Ramesh Kumar, a headmaster.
Education minister Sikandar Singh Maluka, when contacted, admitted that seats were lying vacant in the department, but denied that files of promotion cases were awaiting approval. "The process of promoting teachers in the state has been started. It is a lengthy procedure. We are also going to start fresh recruitments. Soon, things would be normalised."