Volunteer taking class at Government Middle School, Mahle Wala, in Ferozepur(HT)
Volunteer taking class at Government Middle School, Mahle Wala, in Ferozepur(HT)

Punjab border schools battle shortage of teachers

Also, these schools are battling with inadequate infrastructure and lack of basic amenities, revealed a random visit to government-run educational institutions located on the India-Pakistan border.
By Vishal Joshi | Hindustan Times, Ferozepur, Ferozepur/fazilka
UPDATED ON AUG 29, 2019 01:28 PM IST

Many government schools in the border districts of Ferozepur and Fazilka are either running without teachers or have fewer educators than the sanctioned posts, and in some cases, local volunteers are teaching the children for a paltry amount paid by the parents.

Also, these schools are battling with inadequate infrastructure and lack of basic amenities, revealed a random visit to government-run educational institutions located on the India-Pakistan border.

Take the Government Senior Secondary School at Kussu Wala in Zira sub-division, for instance. The largest school in the rural belt of Ferozepur district, it has only 15 teachers against the sanctioned strength of 38 posts.

Students rued that they do not have teachers for seven subjects, including English, economics and mathematics. “Teachers of other disciplines instruct us in these subjects. We face a lot of problem but have no choice,” said a Class 10 girl student. Also, students complained that though the school has a computer science teacher, they do not have laboratory for teaching the subject.

“Pupils are studying computer science but they are not computer literate. In the absence of a dedicated laboratory, we are unable to impart practical lessons,” said a teacher requesting anonymity.

Vishesh, the officiating principal, said the authorities have been apprised of the situation.

Education department officials blame teachers’ reluctance to get posted in rural areas for the problem of shortage of teachers.

The Government Middle School at Mahle Wala near Makhu has no regular teacher for 29 students enrolled in Classes 6, 7 and 8. A teacher from an adjoining school is posted here as a stopgap arrangement for more than a year.

Kamaljit Kaur, a volunteer from Mahle Wala village, gets paid 100 each by the students’ parents.

“As the school has no funds, the parents are paying her from their pocket. She takes various classes to gain experience but not all of them are not in a position to pay,” said Pradeep Garg, a probationer teacher, who is posted there temporarily.

According to the education officials there are at least 15 schools without regular posting of teachers in Ferozepur.

“Of 1,409 posts in the primary wing (Class 1-5), 210 are vacant. We have 80 schools in the district with just one teacher. We hope the situation will be better in the next few weeks in the wake of the recent transfer schedule,” said district education officer (DEO primary) Harinder Singh.

Official said of the 422 sanctioned posts of school lecturers in Ferozepur, as many as 191 were lying vacant till Monday.

City schools too

cry for attention

The Government Primary School-2 in Fazilka city is housed in a complex that was declared unsafe last year.

Located in the busy Gandhi Chowk, the school has 154 students and six teachers.

Headmistress Nirmal Kumari says the safety of students and staff is a matter of grave concern.

“This school was constructed in 1951 and all four classrooms have been declared unsafe. We also need a functional toilet. We expect the authorities to take due notice of the challenges at the school,” she adds.

Moreover, pigs are a common sight on the campus of Government Primary School, Khatikan Mohalla, in the city.

The shabby building has four rooms to accommodate five classes and a section earmarked for the anganwadi wing. Headmistress Parvinder Rani said her top priority is to keep bad elements away from the school compound.

“Thefts of taps, bricks and other things are common here after the school hours. We stand nowhere when compared with other schools in terms of infrastructure. With the recently announced grant of 25,000, we can only strengthen the main gate to keep unwanted people out of school property,” she said.

The government primary school at Pucca Chisti, one of the last villages towards the international border, has only two rooms for 104 students even as it nice interiors and exteriors. The second room was constructed with the financial support of a teacher couple — Manoj Kumar and Shweta Kumari.

Two classes are held simultaneously in a single room whereas others sit under a tree with a pedestal fan on.

“In spite of all odds, we try to give best to the students from the underprivileged sections. We have examples like the national awardee and a young colleague like Lavjeet Grewal who have contributed so much,” says Kumar.

Muhar Jamsher, a village just a few hundred meters away from a border outpost at the international border, has three teachers for a strength of 96 students.

One has to cross the Sutlej river, that remains flooded during rainy seasons, and a defence check post to reach the school.

“There is no private school in the vicinity and farmers have no means to send their wards to any school in the city. They have high expectations from teachers and we have an example of our senior colleague Savikar Gandhi who during his stint of seven years worked to beautify the entire campus and installing several swings for students from his own resources,” said Varinder Kumar, a teacher.

Fazilka DEO BM Bedi claimed that about 98% sanctioned posts of teachers have been filled. “I joined in Fazilka on Tuesday and I will soon study infrastructural and other issues to take it up with the authorities,” said Bedi.

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