Though the Punjab government had constructed 378 science blocks in rural areas across the state for promoting the subject with the financial support of National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), it seems the government is not sincere about the effort as several blocks have been locked due to lack of satisfactory tools in science laboratories.
To add to the situation, the schools under the NABARD scheme are mostly vacant because of staff shortage.
The schools were started to provide education in vocational, commerce and science subjects to rural students but after 2008, the education department did not send a single science teacher for the students.
According to the education department, the district has 14 NABARD schools in rural areas where almost all the science blocks are locked. Each of the schools requires at least 16 teachers; four for science stream, six for vocational subjects, four for humanities and two for commerce, but the 14 schools under NABARD are being run by only two teachers in the entire district for the past six years.
According to information, students are dropping out of the NABARD schools and looking at private institutions where they end up spending too much money.
Manjit Singh, incharge of the government senior secondary school in Rauke Kalan village said there were 21posts for teachers but only six were teaching for the past four years. As a result, the staff was running the school with the help of private teachers. "Though the education department had built a huge building for the science block in 2008, not a single science teacher came here. We are using the science building as a store and have appointed some private teachers with the help of the villagers for higher and senior secondary classes for which, parents are paying extra," he said.
Darshan Singh Brar, president of the district Congress committee, alleged that due to government apathy, the students of senior secondary schools of the area like Badhni Kalan, Raunta, Thathi Bhai, Fatehgarh Panjtoor, Khukhran and Kaliewala villages were facing huge problems with tuitions. "Everybody can see locks hanging at the doors of the science blocks. Panchayats of the region have written to the education department several times about vacant posts of science teachers for NABARD schools, but nobody has paid attention to their grievances," said Brar.
When contacted, district education officer (secondary) Baldev Singh confirmed that all NABARD science schools were facing trouble due to lack of staff for the past few years. "We are going to conduct a special survey to find out if the schools can run separately or need to be merged with one another," he said.